Most alumnae will agree that four years at Wellesley is a rich, life-changing experience. Missy Siner Shea ’89 would concur—doubly so. In addition to her years as a student, she is concluding four years as executive director of the Alumnae Association. In March, she’s leaving her position at the College to return to her beloved home state and become president and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont, an affiliate of Special Olympics International.
When Shea became WCAA executive director in January 2015, one of her first priorities was to enhance collaboration between the Alumnae Association and other College divisions—Development, Library and Technology Services (LTS), the new Career Education program, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics, and more. “I knew what I came here to do. I was given the support and the tools, the time, in order to do it. I had colleagues who were open-minded and met me there, and we built those bridges,” Shea says.
Ravi Ravishanker, chief information officer and associate provost, speaks to the opportunities these bridges created. “In order for a collaboration to be successful, the senior leaders should be willing to give and take, have an institutional view and not the narrow divisional or departmental view. Missy is terrific at that,” he says. “I have collaborated with her on many projects, both between WCAA and LTS as well as projects involving us and Career Education. In all cases, she has brought in fresh perspectives and thoughtful ideas that have resulted in much better user experiences than would have been otherwise.”
Another of Shea’s passions has been promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work that the Alumnae Association does, a commitment shared by the College and the WCAA board of directors. During Shea’s tenure, the WCAA has added Shared Identity Groups (SIGs) like the Wellesley Alum Pride Alliance (WAPA) and Wellesley Jewish Alumnae (WJA). The Alumnae Association partnered with Wellesley Alumnae of African Descent (WAAD) and Tracey Cameron, assistant dean of intercultural education and director of Harambee House, and others to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Harambee House and the 50th anniversary of Ethos. The WCAA board also formed the IDEA (Inclusion and Diversity Engaging Alumnae) Working Group, whose work is in progress.
Dolores Arredondo ’95, a WCAA board member and past president of Wellesley Latina Alumnae Network, points to the BLUEprint leadership training weekend (formerly called Alumnae Leadership Council), which brings together volunteers from classes, clubs, and SIGs, as an example of Shea’s leadership. “What I love about Missy is that she knows that we’ll only get better at diversity and inclusion if we bring together alums from different walks of life, from different perspectives, from different regions, not only having the SIGs speak to the SIGs, or the [club] presidents speak to [club] presidents,” Arredondo says.
Other highlights for Shea included collaborating with Career Education to create the Hive, a networking and mentoring system for alumnae and students; reimagining alumnae volunteer training, resulting in BLUEprint; implementing a new alumnae engagement platform; and traveling to dozens of Wellesley events, large and small, across the country. “That’s something I’m going to miss, is those daily connections, those opportunities to meet just fabulous women,” she says.
Immediate past WCAA president Georgia Murphy Johnson ’75 says, “Missy brought a strategic focus or vision to the Alumnae Association, which allowed us to evaluate and take a fresh look at our programming and reposition it to maximize its effectiveness.” Current President Martha Goldberg Aronson ’89 adds, “Missy brought positive collaboration, strategic thinking, team building, and innovative improvements to alumnae engagement. Missy is a problem solver and learned with whom she needed to partner to solve issues. And she is fun!”
The Wellesley College Alumnae Association is seeking a visionary leader and experienced administrator for the position of executive director. To learn more about the position, see the job listing on Wellesley’s HR website, here.