Over the weekend of November 15-16, St. Andrew's welcomed alumni and families to campus for our 2019 Women’s Network Weekend. The theme of this year’s conference was The Built World: Reimagining Space & Place, and events celebrated alumni who are working in fields such as engineering, architecture, design, construction, and the many other professions involved in creating and improving our communities and habitats.
“Through the journeys of their lives, our alumni also tell the story of St. Andrew’s,” said Women’s Network founder and chair Elizabeth Roach. “They tell the story of how a community of care and kindness, of collaboration and creativity, of intellectual rigor and joy, of diversity and co-education, of adults and teenagers, can challenge us all to keep striving to make the world a better place. This story is made visible and audible during the Women’s Network Weekends when our alumni return to campus and engage with our students and faculty for two days.”
The weekend began with a keynote talk by Jean Li’ ’06, which she delivered in the duPont Memorial Chapel on Friday afternoon. Li is an architect with MBB Architects in New York City, and currently oversees projects for schools and religious institutions. She spoke about the ways in which our spaces affect the spirit and health of our communities, outlined some of the collaborative challenges of working in architecture, and shared three project examples from her work. You can read more about Li and her work here, and watch her talk on our Livestream channel.
On Friday evening, Annie Imbrie-Moore ’12 and Margaux Lopez ’11 gathered on stage in Engelhard Hall to deliver the weekend's second keynote address—a fun, thoughtful, wide-ranging conversation on engineering, stem careers, gender, and life at St. Andrew’s. You can also watch their conversation on our Livestream channel. Imbrie-Moore is a mechanical engineering student at Stanford, where she researches heart valve repair techniques; read more about her work here. Lopez is a mechanical engineer at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where she works on an enormous digital camera destined for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, an observatory currently under construction in Chile; read more about her work here.
Imbrie-Moore and Lopez, along with Trustee Michael Evans ’98, who helped organize the weekend, were introduced by Roach. Evans shared his vision for the weekend, defining “the built world” and giving context to the theme. Evans is the President of Moynihan Station Development Corporation, where he oversees the redevelopment of the James A. Farley Post Office Building into a new intercity passenger rail station for New York City.
On Saturday morning, students, faculty and guests gathered in Engelhard Hall for a panel discussion with the following alumnae:
- Kim G. Cortes ’01, Associate Art Director, Guardian News & Media
- Clair Colburn ’87, Senior Associate, Finegold Alexander Architects
- Elisa Espiritu ’98, Organizational Development Specialist, The Innocence Project
- Faith Loehr ’13, Engineering Intern, Turner Construction Company
- Elizabeth A. Martin ’09, Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
- Heather Williams Mitchell ’92, Former President & COO, Head of Asset Management, Capri Capital Partners
After the panel (which you can also watch at standrews-de.org/livestream), students, faculty, and alumni dispersed throughout campus to attend more than 50 workshops hosted by both male and female alumni. Workshop topics were wide-ranging; a few samples are listed below:
- Community-Based Planning in NYC’s Chinatown and the Lower East Side: A Case Study (Elisa Espiritu ’98)
- Electric Autonomous Vehicles (Probably) Won’t Save the Planet: The Past, Present, and Possible Futures of American Transportation (Jamie Carrington ’98)
- Engineering a Solution to Save the Bay (Beth Martin ’09)
- Exploring a Career in Real Estate Private Equity (Rob Toomey ’92)
- Historic Preservation: Planning the Future of the Past (Alice Duffee ’88)
- Inclusivity in Design (Clair Colburn ’87)
- The Psychology of Urban Spaces: Creating a Vibrant and Welcoming Public Realm (Michael Evans ’98)
- Talking Shop: Inside the Business of Interior Design (Lucy Long ’00)
- The Very Stubborn Phenomena of Redlining (Bret Peters ’81)
“Many of my conversations with alumni throughout the weekend centered on the renovation of Amos and the Sipprelle Field House and how these new buildings have created amazing learning and communal spaces,” Roach reflected after the fact. “Their imaginations were alive, invested in a vision—in both practical and whimsical ways—of the future of the school. Certainly, their willingness to participate in the weekend signaled to me that they care deeply about the school, but talking to them about their dreams for the school and their interactions with students fueled me with hope and gratitude and optimism about the capable and brilliant hands in which we’re leaving the future of the school.”
"It is always a pleasure to be back at SAS," said Faith Loehr ’13 after the weekend. "I could never express how much SAS has provided for me, but coming back to share just a small bit about myself to the student body is nowhere near enough to reciprocate the impact the St. Andrew's community has had on me. I will be forever grateful for my time at SAS and wanting to return the kind energy SAS radiates."
The Built World was our ninth on-campus Women’s Network event since the Network’s founding in 2009 by Roach—and that number does not include the many off-campus Women’s Network gatherings that have been held over the past ten years as well. The Women’s Network came into being as the school was celebrating its 35th anniversary of co-education. Our earliest female alums are now in the midst of their adult careers and doing fascinating work out in the world, and thus the motivating idea behind the Women’s Network was to celebrate the accomplishments of these alumnae while also allowing them to reconnect with the school and with each other, and to create a means by which they could share their professional insights and expertise with our current students. Since the spring of 2010, Women’s Network events have brought a wide variety of St. Andreans back to campus for just this purpose, often around a professional theme—business, the arts, medicine, journalism, education, and so on. The size and scope of these events has expanded over the years, and since 2013 both men and women have come back to campus to present and participate in our Women’s Network Weekends. Today, the central goal of the Women’s Network is to provide community, inspiration, and mentorship for all members of our community.
“The Network celebrates the full maturation and development both of coeducation at St. Andrew’s and the steady evolution and progress women have made in the 20th and 21st centuries toward leadership in every field, every endeavor, every responsibility in global and American life,” explains Roach. “We want to celebrate the incredible collaboration among men and women, boys and girls in the creation of our abiding spirit and ethos, connecting and inspiring us all.”