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President Obama Urges 2012 Graduates to “Fight for your Seat at the Head of the Table”


President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at Barnard College’s 120th Commencement ceremony on May 14, 2012. He received the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college’s highest honor, alongside Athena Advisory Board member, Helene D. Gayle ’76, president and CEO of CARE USA; Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry; and Sally Chapman, Barnard professor of chemistry.

Delivering an eloquent speech to an overflow crowd of Barnard students and their families, faculty, alumnae and friends of the college, the President urged the graduates to take leadership roles: “After decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the destiny of this nation and of this world.

But how far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world -- well, that will be up to you.  You’ve got to want it.  It will not be handed to you...Don’t just get involved.  Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

He urged our students to give back and to be role models for others and to persevere in the face of adversity.  He continued: “America needs you to reach high and hope deeply.  And if you fight for your seat at the table, and you set a better example, and you persevere in what you decide to do with your life, I have every faith not only that you will succeed, but that, through you, our nation will continue to be a beacon of light for men and women, boys and girls, in every corner of the globe.”

18 Athena Scholars graduated along with their class of nearly 600 Barnard seniors. Graduates also heard from two Athena Scholars: Jessica Blank,’12,  SGA President and Jaclyn D’Aversa,’12,  Senior Class President as well as Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, Athena Advisory Board Member and Chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees.  The 2012 Bryson Award was also given to a 2011 Athena Summer Fellow, Madalena Provo.

View Photos & Video of Commencement

Athena Partners with Rutgers and Spelman to Discuss Women’s Leadership


On May 3rd, 2012, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, along with the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University, and the Women's Research and Resource Center at Spelman College, hosted a day-long workshop, "Desperately Seeking" a Feminist Approach to Women's Leadership Studies. The discussion, held on Barnard's campus, brought over 40 specially invited faculty and administrators from the three institutions, as well as guests from Princeton, Brooklyn College, and Columbia Medical School to advance understanding of women and leadership beyond the worlds of business school and management studies. The discussion sought to engage scholars who are studying such issues as power structures, racial and gender inequality, social movements, and activism. This Fall, Spelman will host a follow up discussion on this very important topic.

View the Day's Agenda as well as Photos of the Conference

Athena Center Co-Sponsored Events

G(irls)20 Summit


May 28-31, 2012
Mexico City, Mexico

The Athena Center is proud to be a key partner in the G(irls) 20 Summit 2012. Athena Consultant, Erin Vilardi, will join other women from Google, Nike, NOVO, Avon, Women for Women International and others to deliver leadership development training to the delegates of the G(irls)20 Summit, a conference in advance of the G20 Leaders meeting. Find Out More


NCRW Annual Conference


June 20-22, 2012
Washington, D.C. 

The Athena Center is proud to co-sponsor the National Center for Research of Women’s Annual Conference that will be held June 20-22 at the Georgetown University Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The twin focus of this year’s Conference is on strengthening women’s economic security and advancing women’s leadership, two critical areas in the path towards greater gender equality.

Scholars Program Director, Abigail Sara Lewis will be representing the Athena Center at the event. Click Here To Register for the NCRW Conference


Financial Fluency Workshops

Full-Day Event on Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Register Now!


Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College | 212.854.1865 |
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