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About the Center

Two hands framing a rising sun
 

The Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is designed to support and educate the next generation of innovators and financially-savvy leaders. 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.


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.

Launched in Fall 2016, the Conway Center is a 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, and interdisciplinary teamwork as well as the development of financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.


Staff

Monica Dean, Director
Previously the administrative director of the Lawrence N. Field Programs and Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College, City University of New York, Monica continues to provide students with opportunities to hone their entrepreneurial skills. Her courses have specifically focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset and teaching students about women and entrepreneurship. Prior to Baruch, Monica 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.

René C. Heavlow, Director of Operations and Special Programs
René has been active in the field of collegiate program development for almost twenty years. She directs the Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs and serves as a resource liaison for aspiring undergraduate entrepreneurs at Smith College through the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's Entrepreneurship Initiative. Her research projects focus on women’s entrepreneurship and the financial knowledge, behavior and attitudes of educated women. René received her master in sociology, with a focus on economic sociology, from the University of Arizona and is a graduate of Smith's Ada Comstock Scholars program (BA, Afro-American Studies/Ethnics cum laude with honors).

Jennifer Kennedy, Administrative Assistant
Jennifer joined Smith College in August 2018. She serves as the primary contact for external offices and students. She spent nearly a decade working in intercollegiate athletics on three Division III campuses and in a conference office. Jennifer has an MEd from Springfield College and a BA from Cedar Crest College - where she is a lifetime member of the Alumnae Association and the Class Agent to the Class of 2007.

Rick Plaut, Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Rick became an entrepreneur after an extensive corporate career in the specialty paper business with James River Corp, REXAM, FiberMark and others. There was a logic to it; though the term had not yet been coined, Rick was a corporate "intrapreneur" throughout his career beginning in sales, and then through sales management, product and market development, directing international sales and marketing, and corporate business development. In 2008, Rick discovered his great enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and learning, using, and teaching the techniques of the Lean Launchpad. He is currently cofounding his fourth enterprise, Launch413, a group of serial entrepreneurs and veteran executives dedicated to helping startups become profitable engines of prosperity in our region. His previous enterprises include incommn, Universal Quality Machine and EOI. Rick is an advisor to a variety of startups and businesses among which are CellZone, SteamPorio, Subclipr, Tripletote, Tursus, WoofTrax, and WorkSafe Technology. He is also a facilitator and mentor at Valley Venture Mentors, an angel investor with River Valley Investors and board member for Speaker Sisterhood and The Field Club of Longmeadow.

Affiliates

  • Jon Crispin, Photographer
  • Michele Wick, Faculty Mentor Coordinator

Course Instructors


Student Interns

For this academic school year, we have the following students who have joined the center and their mission to support women in finances and entrepreneurship!

 

Conway Intern Maha Awaisi

Maha Awaisi '21, General Office Support

Maha is currently a junior double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is a co-captain on the South Asian fusion dance team, SC Masti, and tutor for computer science classes. She is excited to help promote the activities at the Conway Center and learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation this year!

Picture of Conway Intern Imane Berrada

Imane Berrada '21, Communications

Imane is a junior double majoring in Economics and Computer Science. She forms part of the Smith College Consulting Club, in addition to the International Students Organization and the Five College Language Center. Imane has had the opportunity to work for the Conway Center for over a year and is extremely grateful for the connections she has made and the skills she has gained.

Conway Intern Talia Deady

Talia Deady '21J, Draper Competition

Talia is a junior majoring in Classical Studies. She lives in Morrow House and is a part of the debate club on campus. Her favorite part of working at the CIEC is getting to learn about all the competitors at the Draper Competition and how creative they are.

Conway Intern Christie Lee

Christie Lee '22, Draper Competition

Christie Lee is in the class of 2022. She is an art major (who is hoping to double major with computer science). Whenever Christie is not studying you can find her playing the violin!

Conway Intern Theo Dean-Slobod

Theo Dean-Slobod '21, Research

Theo is a resident of Sessions House. She is majoring in economics and minoring in engineering. She is currently treasurer for the A Capella group The Noteables. She is excited to learn more about the innovative projects that Smith Students undertake through CIEC, and hopes to be able to support the upcoming entrepreneurs in Smith's community.

Conway Intern Lillian Emenogu

Lillian Emenogu '20, Campus Liaison

Lillian is a senior with an Economics major concentrating in GFX. She is Treasurer of the Investment Club. Lillian also tutors ESL in her spare time, and likes to attend interesting events on and around campus. She enjoys working at the CIEC because it keeps her connected to the world of business and innovation which are key drivers in any economy.

Conway Intern Ileanna Garcia

Ileanna Garcia '22, Web Administration

Ileanna is currently a sophomore planning to declare a Computer Science and Mathematics double major. She lives in Gardiner house and is the sophomore class rep for her house. Ileanna is part of the website administrators team and is excited to work at the Conway Center to learn more about interdisciplinary opportunities.

Conway Intern Joyce Huang

Joyce Huang '22, Research

Joyce is a sophomore planning to declare Economics as her major. Joyce is a part of Smithies in Statistics and Data Science, the Smith Kpop-Dance Crew, and is also the treasurer for Duckett House. Joyce became interested in working for the CIEC after participating in the 2019 Draper Competition, and is especially excited to join the center and their mission to support women in finances and entrepreneurship!

Conway Intern Luca Jaccodine

Luca Jaccodine '20, Campus Liaison

Luca is a senior graduating in 2020 with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. She is involved in the ceramics club and a group off campus that teaches once a week at the Hampshire County Jail. Luca enjoys working at CIEC because she believes this center has the potential to build confidence and inspire entrepreneurship in women.

Conway Intern Lily Jin

Lily Jin ‘22, Campus Liaison

Lily is a sophomore at Smith, double majoring in Statistics and Quantitative Economics. She is currently involved in the investment club and Sazanami. Lily has decided to intern at CIEC this semester because she really interested in helping with the function of the center and all the events that Conway provides.

Conway Intern Clara Kim

Clara Kim ‘22, Blogger

Clara is a sophomore on a pre-med track majoring in English with Creative Writing emphasis. She is involved with WOZQ 91.9 FM, Display Art Collective, and is a gallery assistant at Smith College Museum of Art. She is interested in the Conway Center’s ability to incorporate entrepreneurship and financial literacy into the arts and humanities.

Conway Intern Sara Kragness

Sara Kragness 'AC, Communications Team Lead

Sara is an Ada Comstock Scholar who hails from the Midwest. She is an American Studies major with a focus in Social Movements with a minor in Film and Media Studies. Sara hopes that her time with the CIEC includes getting to know more about our programming, helping others learn about merge their personal work with the CIEC services, and growing alongside the communications team.

Conway Intern Danielle Davis

Danielle Davis '21, General Office Support

Danielle Davis is a rising junior majoring in Economics. The Conway Center has been her second home on campus where she’s been able to conduct research regarding entrepreneurship offerings at peer institutions, learn technical skills like Excel and Bloomberg, and expand her network of passionate entrepreneurs.

Conway Intern June Lee

June Lee '20, Draper Competition

June is a senior double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology interested in a career in finance or consulting. June is involved in the Smith College Global Brigades organization, and played on the tennis team for 2 years. June is super excited to learn more about entrepreneurship while promoting the CIEC to other Smithies.

Vivian Ma

Vivian Ma '22, Communications

Vivian is currently a sophomore majoring in Economics. She lives in Haven House, and is involved with multiple clubs such as Investment Club, Asian Student Associations, Consulting Club, First Generation Student Alliance, Chinese Student Associations. She is excited to work at the CIEC because of the leadership skills, like communication.

Conway Intern Vanessa Morales

Vanessa Morales 'AC, Communications

Vanessa is from Chicago originally and pleased to be finishing her Senior year here at Smith. She’s an English major with a minor in Arts + Technology. Vanessa is interested in the intersection of communication and design and how she can best relay information within these mediums.

Conway Intern Finn Murray

Finn Murray '21, Communications

Finn is a junior majoring in English and living in Chase. She enjoys working at the CIEC because it gives her a window into a world that, as an English major, had not previously had much experience in; and because it helps her to develop a healthy work ethic in a friendly and supportive environment.

Conway Intern Whitney Mutalemwa

Whitney Mutalemwa '20, Web Administration

Whitney is a senior with a double major in Mathematics & Statistical and Data Sciences. Whitney plans events as the special events chair for the Student Event Committee (SEC). In addition, Whitney is the treasurer of the Black Students’ Alliance. Whitney continues to work at the CIEC because of the interdisciplinary resources that the center offers.

Conway Intern Camille Ollivierre

Camille Ollivierre '20, Blogger

Camille is Vincentian-American poet from Brooklyn, New York. They are currently a Senior studying English at Smith College. They are the Founder of Dey Magazine, a platform dedicated to amplifying the expressions and voices of marginalized folx that would otherwise go unheard. Camille aims to use a combination of art, interviews and the facilitation of conversations to forcibly carve out space for marginalized folx in the world.

Picture of Conway Intern Sanjana Sunder

Sanjana Sunder ‘22, Blogger

Sanjana is a sophomore majoring in Cognitive Science with an Applied Statistics minor. They are involved in the fencing club and the ConBust club. Sanjana is part of the blogging team at the CIEC.

 


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