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About the Center

Two hands framing a rising sun

The Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center builds on the programming of Smith’s Women and Financial Independence program, a successful initiative that was launched in 2001. The Conway Center is an intellectual hub where students receive the tools to think expansively and develop innovative solutions to pressing problems.  The center hosts and facilitates a slate of programs and activities focused on creative thinking, problem solving, interdisciplinary teamwork and development of business and entrepreneurial skills.

Our core pillars are:


Support students, faculty and alumnae to generate, share, test and refine new ideas that create value.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Provide instruction, mentorship and resources to help Smith entrepreneurs convert their passions into viable enterprises.

Financial Education

Empower Smith students to make sound financial decisions for themselves and their ventures .

Through all aspects of our programming, the center fosters cross-disciplinary thinking, risk taking, financial acumen and business planning capabilities. We enable students to work collaboratively on entrepreneurial ventures that address real-world challenges.


The CEIC is designed to support and educate the next generation of innovators. It is driven by our students’ demand to be constructive in the world. Our mission is to give them the tools and confidence to do so.


Monica Dean, Administrative Director
Monica is the administrative director of the Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Smith College. Previously she was the administrative director of the Lawrence N. Field Programs and Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College, City University of New York. Prior to Baruch, Ms. Dean was a senior vice president at the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a national not-for-profit founded by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, and an associate with Booz, Allen & Hamilton. She holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a BS in civil engineering from Howard University.

Judith Fountain, Administrative Assistant
Judy Fountain has worked at Smith College for more than 25 years, joining the center in July 2013. She serves as the primary contact for external offices and students. She has an associate’s degree in executive secretarial science from Holyoke Community College and in her other life is a watercolor and oil landscape painter. Fountain has been married for more than 40 years and is the parent of two adult daughters.

René Heavlow, Program Director
René Heavlow has been active in the field of collegiate program development for more than 15 years. Formerly the director of the Center for Women and Financial Independence, she was responsible for program design and management, as well as strategic and fiscal planning of the center’s financial education and entrepreneurship activities. She has served as a mentor to and resource liaison for aspiring undergraduate entrepreneurs at Smith College and developed interactive financial education workshops for middle and high school students. Heavlow also currently serves as a research associate for projects focused on women’s entrepreneurship and financial knowledge.


Course Instructors

Student Interns

  • Latifa Al-Mohdar '18
  • Ha Cao '20
  • Kaitlyn Coyne '19
  • Katharina Geppert '19
  • Natalie James '18
  • Fatima Keita '20
  • Hannah Kwon '18
  • Jodi Lowe '18
  • Michaella Mentu '19
  • Brianna Moore '18
  • Katie Rose '19
  • Sasha-Kay Shrouder '19
  • Lizzie Sturtevant '18

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