The Women and Public Service Initiative

The Women and Public Service Initiative

The Women and Public Service Initiative

April 20, 2011

Dear Alumnae and Friends,

Smith College’s ongoing efforts to expand its global reach gained a powerful endorsement recently when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the Women and Public Service Initiative, a partnership that will bring together the resources of the U.S. Department of State, Smith College and our sister institutions—Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley.

The details are being developed, but the effort aims to address the need to educate and train a new generation of women to enter the public sector with the strategic leadership skills, energy and commitment required to tackle daunting world challenges. The Sisters are a logical partner in this endeavor, as each has a rich tradition of educating and inspiring women leaders from around the world.

This new venture, which launches with a colloquium this fall at Bryn Mawr and will eventually include programs hosted by each college, is a natural extension of our own mission as an institution of and for the world. At a time when governments, nongovernmental organizations and businesses are increasingly recognizing how educating women and girls allays poverty and political instability, the world needs women leaders from many nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds who are committed to the public sector, globally educated and prepared to lead. Smith is meeting this need in profound ways.

Around the world, Smith alumnae are setting examples of leadership in service to their countries and their communities. Denise Silber ’74 recently received the French Legion of Honor—the highest decoration bestowed by France—for her work in promoting the use of new technologies in health care in the country. Durreen Shahnaz ’89 is the founder and chair of Impact Investment Exchange, a stock exchange that provides social enterprises in Asia greater access to capital, allowing them to more rapidly expand their activities. Farah Pandith ’90 is the first special representative to Muslim communities for the U.S. Department of State. Her office is responsible for executing Secretary Clinton’s vision for engagement with Muslims around the world.

These amazing Smith women, and thousands of others across the globe, are a source of pride for the college and inspiration to our students, who come to Smith with global ambitions and a deep desire to engage the world beyond the Grécourt Gates. We are currently working on a number of global educational initiatives that will offer Smith students expanded opportunities for international study, cultural exchange and leadership development. I am excited at the potential of the Women and Public Service Initiative to complement these opportunities as it provides young women valuable perspectives, insights and skills that will serve them as they prepare to lead on the international stage.

I look forward to sharing news about this promising collaboration as it develops over the coming months.

Carol T. Christ