Successful International Institute Comes to a Close

Women in Public Service Project

Earlier this month, Simmons, Smith, and Mount Holyoke colleges ended a successful two-week Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Institute – “Reconstructing Societies in the Wake of Conflict: Transitional Justice and Economic Development.” While Simmons has hosted other U.S. Department of State programs before, this was our first time coordinating with two other women’s colleges.

A total of 48 women delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam attended, bringing with them a wealth of experience from their professional positions, which included roles in education, media, government, NGOs, and humanitarian programs.

Delegates tour the Massachusetts State House as part of their Simmons stay.

While at Simmons, the delegates saw “Principled Leadership in Action” through a day-long event at the Massachusetts State House where they met state legislators and judges; heard a discussion from a panel that included the Massachusetts State Auditor and the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development; and took part in a special luncheon at the historic John Adams Courthouse hosted by Simmons alumna and Massachusetts Juvenile Court Chief Justice Designee Amy Nechtem. The delegates then were immersed for two days in Simmons classrooms focusing on leadership through the lenses of culture, ethics, and gender; and visioning. Their time at Simmons culminated in a closing dinner at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, with special messages from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.

Student Ambassadors from Simmons, Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges.

This Institute is important for many reasons, not the least of which is helping to raise the national visibility of Simmons College. As a result of the Institute, Simmons received coverage in the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and the Huffington Post. Student ambassadors and the women delegates provided further visibility posting photos and comments via social media.

Marking the start of the Institute with Presidents Kathleen McCartney (Smith), Lynn Pasquerella (Mount Holyoke), and Helen Drinan (Simmons)

The Institute required a highly coordinated effort both within Simmons, and with our two important academic partners, with literally dozens of faculty, staff, and students involved. I would like to personally thank Chief of Staff Lynda Connolly who, as the program leader, coordinated all aspects of the Institute among Simmons, Smith, and Mount Holyoke. Simmons Professor Mary Shapiro led faculty in the development and delivery of the Simmons academic programming; Nancy Dimauro was project manager for the Institute; and Special Assistant to the President Erin O’Connor trained and oversaw the work of 12 student ambassadors including Simmons students Zara Ali, Mallarie Charbonneau, Ashli Edwards, and Ellen Garnett.

Simmons has now presented six programs through the U.S. Department of State and the Wilson Center since 2012. These important programs emphasize our areas of expertise in women and girls’ education, leadership, and success, and provide an excellent path toward our long-term goal of becoming a beacon of leadership in the world of higher education, a resource to our nation and world, and a global expert in educating women for empowerment and leadership.

The WPSP is currently looking for women and men to become WPSP Mentors to support women leaders in the journey toward leadership in public service. Those interested may email