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News & Events for the Smith College Community
News of Note September 22, 2021

Meet the 2022 Smith College Medalists

Closeup of the Smith College Medal

Four extraordinary alums will receive the Smith College Medal at Rally Day in February, in recognition of their contributions to their communities and the world.

This year’s medalists, announced at a faculty meeting in September, are:

  • Former U.S. Representative and global security expert Jane Lakes Harman ’66
  • Gender-equality advocate S. Mona Ghosh Sinha ’88
  • Civil rights leader Deborah Archer ’93
  • Entrepreneur and sustainable foods advocate Jessie Banhazl ’06

This year’s honorees will be celebrated at Rally Day on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Event details will be posted online closer to the date.) Afternoon classes are canceled for Rally Day, which marks the first time seniors publicly wear their graduation gowns—along with inventive hats—in keeping with the day’s spirit of Smith pride.

The Smith Medal was established in 1962 to recognize alumnae who exemplify in their lives and work “the true purpose” of a liberal arts education. More than 200 outstanding alums have received the award in recognition of their professional achievements and outstanding service.

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Jane Lakes Harman ’66
Global security expert; former U.S. Representative

Jane Harman, distinguished fellow and president emerita of the Wilson Center, is an internationally recognized authority on U.S. and global security issues, foreign relations and lawmaking. Raised in Los Angeles and a public-school graduate, she earned her graduate degree from Harvard Law School and went on to become a nine-term member of Congress, serving for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives. Drawing upon a career that has included service as President Carter’s Secretary of the Cabinet and hundreds of diplomatic missions to foreign countries, Harman has held posts on and received awards from nearly a dozen governmental and non-governmental advisory boards and commissions. Harman resigned from Congress in February 2011 to join the Woodrow Wilson Center as its first female director, president and CEO. After leading the Wilson Center for a decade, she retired from that position this past February. Harman is the author of “Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe,” published in May by St. Martin’s Press. Harman received an honorary degree from Smith in 1994.

""S. Mona Ghosh Sinha ’88
Advocate for gender equality

Mona Ghosh Sinha is a champion for gender equality in business, politics and society. Originally from Kolkata, India, she has parlayed a career in the corporate world to leverage business tools and build sustainable social justice organizations that uplift women’s leadership. Founder of the Feminist Circle Fund and the Asian Women’s Leadership University, Sinha is the board chair of Women Moving Millions and of the ERA Coalition Fund for Women’s Equality. She is an executive producer of “Disclosure,” a documentary film on trans rights. With a focus on strategic planning and governance, she serves on the founding boards of the Smithsonian Women’s American History Museum and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is on the advisory boards of Apne Aap International, the Museum of Natural History, Columbia Business School Tamer Center and the Columbia School of Public Health Global Mental Health initiative. A trustee emerita of Smith, she was vice chair of the board of trustees and co-led the $486-million Women for the World campaign. Sinha has been widely honored for her vision and leadership: among others, Columbia Business School—her graduate school alma mater—has recognized her with the Horton Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise.

""Deborah Archer ’93
Civil rights leader; president, American Civil Liberties Union

Deborah N. Archer is president of the American Civil Liberties Union and a leading expert in civil rights, civil liberties and racial justice. A professor of clinical law and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law, she is an award-winning teacher and legal scholar whose articles have appeared in leading law reviews. Archer is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Charles G. Albom Prize. She previously worked as an attorney with the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination and school desegregation. A former chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Section on Civil Rights and the Section on Minority Groups, she previously served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency. Archer has been widely honored by community organizations and legal institutions, including Yale Law School, Columbia Law School and the American Association of Law Schools.

""Jessie Banhazl ’06
Entrepreneur; founder, Green City Growers

Jessie Banhazl is the founder of Green City Growers, a mission-driven urban farming company transforming underused spaces into biodiverse and productive landscapes. After graduating from Smith with degrees in sociology and studio art, she moved to New York City to begin a career in reality television production. Disillusioned with the entertainment industry, she moved back to Boston in 2008 to establish and run GCG. “I wanted to do work that would have a positive impact on the world,” she has said. Green City Growers re-awakened her passion for food and introduced her to the importance of sustainable farming. In 2019, Banhazl was an agriculture fellow with the Eisenhower Fellowships, traveling throughout Europe to connect with a global network of dynamic change agents committed to creating a more just, peaceful and prosperous world. Green City Growers was acquired in 2021. Banhazl continues to support the company in an advisory capacity. She currently resides in Portland, Maine, and is gearing up to provide technical support to local entrepreneurs with a focus on social impact.