Over the last few years, Maneesha Patil ’78 has led the charge for the WCAA to build a more diverse and inclusive board. As chair of the Nominating Committee for the Alumnae Association’s board, she heads up research and recruiting of alumnae who can represent Wellesley graduates in all their diversity—seeking alumnae for the board from different class years, geographic locations, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, or professional backgrounds. The members of the board provide governance oversight and strategic direction to the WCAA and its staff, as well as ensuring the long-term financial and operational health of the Association.
Patil sat down with the magazine to discuss her work.
How do you start with your recruiting?
We look ahead two to three years to see where we will have gaps in representation and skills as board members complete their terms. Then we actively seek qualified alumnae candidates who will fill those gaps.
What qualifications are you seeking?
We look for a demonstrated interest in engaging with other alumnae and a passion for advancing the priorities of the College and the WCAA. In short, someone who will be a good ambassador for the Association.
Other traits are similar to what you would look for in hiring a good employee: the ability to listen and ask good questions, excellent oral and written communication skills, experience within a particular industry. There is a lot of committee work, so candidates must be able to lead as well as be good team members on other committees. Following through on assigned work is also very important.
Is there a typical path onto the board?
As you might expect, the names that come to our attention are alums usually involved in their class or club, special interest group, the Business Leadership Council, friends groups (like Friends of Wellesley Athletics and others), or who are recipients of the Alumnae Achievement and Sed Ministrare awards. But you don’t need to be in multiple organizations.
We are also interested in alums serving their fellow alums or students in nontypical ways, such as writing for Wellesley magazine, mentoring, speaking to students on campus, providing internships, or as authors speaking to alumnae book clubs.
We welcome recommendations from any alumnae. It is important to note that this can be a very lengthy and confidential process. We often have a surplus of excellent candidates identified, so we may need to wait for the right set of criteria to open up (for example, a particular class decade, region, or skill set that is needed) to nominate them.