“Women in public service.” That was the theme for Hollins’ first alumnae-in-residence program, which brought five graduates back to campus in March to meet with students.
From left: Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89, Sarah Poulton ’06, Leigh Ann Wood Gillis ’97, Mary Catherine “M.C.” Andrews ’86, and Lindsay Lucas ’08
Inspired by the annual Career Connection Conference, or C3, which showcases career paths across all disciplines, the alumnae-in-residence program aims to connect students with alumnae in a specific field. Participants in the spring 2016 program work in the public service sector, including government, political organizations, and nonprofits.
Mary Catherine “M.C.” Andrews ’86 (political science) is senior strategist at Vianovo. She previously served at the White House in various roles, including special assistant to the president and director of global communications. She also served on the 2000 presidential transition team. Before joining the White House, Andrews served at prominent NGOs and international organizations, including the International Republican Institute, World Bank, and Open Society Institute. She obtained an M.P.A. from the John R. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She received Hollins’ Distinguished Alumnae Award in 2011.
Jennifer Barton Boysko ’89 (psychology, French) represents the 86th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Read her profile.
Leigh Ann Wood Gillis ’97 (political science, economics) is the founder and principal of the LAWGroup, Inc., a political consulting firm specializing in fundraising for center-right candidates, committees, and causes. Named by Campaign and Politics magazine as one of the 50 most influential Republicans in Georgia, Gillis has worked with clients at all levels of elected office. Over the last 14 years, her clients have included Governor Sonny Perdue, John McCain for President, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, as well as all major national committees. She served as director of executive appointments in the office of Governor Sonny Perdue. In 2008, she served as a presidential elector in Georgia.
Lindsay Lucas ’08 (political science, international studies) works for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) in Washington, D.C., supporting projects in this country, as well as in countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In 2011-13, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda, where she worked on youth and community development projects with the Ministry of Health.
While completing her M.P.A. degree from the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, Sarah Poulton ’06 (history) worked for the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services Department as a contract administrator. In 2011, she was hired by the city’s procurement management division as a contract officer. Poulton also teaches in the UNC-Charlotte M.P.A. program as an adjunct professor of contract and grant writing and management.
Sarah Poulton wrote about her experience with the alumnae-in-residence program:
I am the service and technology procurement team leader for the City of Charlotte. My division is responsible for vendor sourcing, project management, contract negotiation, and city council presentation of services and technology required by the various city departments. I am also the environmental purchasing coordinator for the city, meaning that I identify and report on environmental purchasing opportunities. Finally, I am a super user of and primary trainer for the city’s financial and procurement business system. These three focuses of my work may seem disparate, but really they’re variations on a theme: bringing together teams of individuals who are highly qualified in what they do in order to achieve goals that may not be their specialty.
And here’s where my Hollins education has served me well. At Hollins, students don’t just go to class and communicate with other students who are like them; they are also encouraged to communicate with others who aren’t like them, with professors who have various specialties, and with external parties through opportunities such as community work and study abroad. My experience as SGA secretary, campus tour leader, CASA volunteer, rider in the equestrian program, and in various service projects exposed me to groups and individuals of very different backgrounds, perspectives, and goals. I think many of those interactions were unique to Hollins because of its small size, its focus on developing the whole woman and not only the scholar, and its surprisingly wide course offerings, considering the size of the faculty. Hollins encourages taking a global perspective and valuing the viewpoints of others around you, both of which are crucial for success in any level of government organization.
Although the five of us represented different fields within the area of public service, we had similar advice for students to help them excel in the professional world:
- Take advantage of the opportunities provided by Hollins to practice such skills as public speaking, leadership, coordinating groups, and interacting with others who have different frames of reference.
- Balance academic and personal commitments; recognize when one needs to take precedence over the other.
- Reach out. Use the Career Center, alumnae connections, or suggestions from professors to find professionals working in fields of interest and to learn more about various career paths.
- Be prepared not to get the dream job right after graduation and be open to such contingencies as moving to an unfamiliar city or taking a job that’s not your first choice. Be ready to say yes to opportunities that could lead to a fulfilling career.
I was honored to be a part of the first alumnae-in-residence program, and I am excited that this effort is important to Hollins.
Photos: Sharon Meador
In January, Nikki Johnson Williams ’98, M.A.L.S. ’13, who for many years worked in various roles in the admission office, became the executive director of alumnae relations. At the same time, Anna Moncure ’07, formerly director of alumnae relations, joined the institutional advancement team as director of the Hollins Fund.
Beth JoJack ’98 interviewed three Hollins alumnae. Read her fascinating profiles >