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October 30, 2007

Panel to Discuss Ambition and Friendship—Narratives of Conflict and Support

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Five women will share their experiences of conflict and support within friendships as part of a Smith College project that is furthering the national discussion about achieving work-life balance.

The panel will be held at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Alumnae House Conference Room, and is the latest in a series of dialogues intended to promote reflection among women at all stages of life about careers, friendship, family and life choices.  The event is free and open to the public.

Smith launched the “Women’s Narratives of Success Project” last year with support from the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation – a family foundation directed by Smith alumna Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien ’57 and her husband, Philippe. de Gaspé Beaubien and her daughter, Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick, will both be members of the panel.

In addition, the panel will include Bernice Johnson Reagon, Smith alumna Martha Southgate ’82 and Heather Abel. The discussion will be introduced by Maureen A. Mahoney, dean of the college, and facilitated by Jennifer L. Walters, dean of religious life.

In January, interested students will also participate in “Get a Life,” a workshop designed to invite reflection about their ambitions and expectations. The workshop will strive to reach beyond headlines that point to a false “choice” between career and family.

About the panelists

Nan-b de Gaspé Beaubien ’57 is co-chair, with her husband, Philippe, of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, a family foundation based in Montreal. She led a successful career in human resources management before building, with her husband, one of the top multimedia companies in Canada, Telemedia. She is a founder of the Canadian Broadcast Institute and is a member of its Hall of Fame. de Gaspé Beaubien has served on numerous boards including the one for the non-profit organization Women in Management.

Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Along with her two brothers, she has been involved in running the family business, Telemedia. de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick serves on the boards of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, among others. She currently resides in Vancouver with her husband and two children and is actively involved in a software start-up company.

Bernice Johnson Reagon is professor emeritus of history at American University and curator emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. She is also a singer and composer and recently retired after 30 years performing with Sweet Honey in the Rock, the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973. For her work as a scholar and artist in African American cultural history and music, she received the 2004 Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities.

Martha Southgate ’82 is the award-winning author of the books “Third Girl from the Left,” “The Fall of Rome” and “Another Way to Dance.” Her non-fiction articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, O, Premiere, and Essence. Formerly an associate chair of the writing department at New School University, she now teaches in the Brooklyn College master’s program and resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

Heather Abel teaches creative non-fiction at New School University. The New York Times described her most recent essay, “Emily,” in the collection “The Friend Who Got Away,” as “obviously winning.” Abel, a former newspaper editor and reporter, earned her master’s degree in fiction writing at the New School. She is currently working on a novel about faith, place and family set in Colorado and California.

About Smith College

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. By linking the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, Smith is developing leaders for society’s challenges. Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country, enrolling 2,600 students from nearly every state and 61 countries.

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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
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