On Governance

From the WCAA President

Photo of Laura Wood Cantopher

Photo by Bailey Davidson

Photo by Bailey Davidson

The WCAA Board of Directors has been spending significant time discussing governance. “How thrilling!” you might be thinking. Or perhaps not.

The thing about governance is that it guides everything we do; it creates the structure through which we determine how we spend time and resources. Are resources being allocated to enable the WCAA’s mission to support the institutional priorities of Wellesley College by connecting alumnae to the College and to each other?

On the board, we regularly ask ourselves, “Are we spending our time on what matters?” I love this question, because it makes me stop and think, “Are we doing what’s best for Wellesley and our alumnae?” Right now, I can honestly say, “Yes, looking at the way we’re structured, our bylaws, and governing guidelines is exactly what we should be doing in order to do our part to implement the College’s strategic plan.”

If you haven’t read the strategic plan (wellesley.edu/about/strategicplanning), I encourage you to do so, because alumnae are called upon with others “to join together as one Wellesley to realize this bold vision for Wellesley’s future.” It’s a daunting task to look at an organization like the WCAA that’s been around for almost 150 years and think about how to evolve and innovate to meet the needs of the College and its alumnae for the next 150. It sometimes keeps me up at night.

I think about the 59 women who sat together in the drawing room of College Hall in 1880 and formed the WCAA. I think about those who signed the articles of incorporation in 1916. And I think, “They would do what we’re doing now, and they would be as proud of us as we are of them.” They would see that we are a complex, varied, and magnificent community, that we push boundaries and push ourselves, that we open doors and hold them open to others. I am certain they would tell us to hold on to what works and adapt what doesn’t so that we get the most out of each other in support of this institution they—and we—love so much.

We are a community of changemakers and leaders on international and local stages. We are a community that lives in the “Wellesley bubble” and then launches itself to become Wellesley in the world. And the alumnae community is a forever community. On our journeys, we listen to one another’s stories and try to understand each other, even when we disagree. We dig our heels in when we’re certain we’re right, and maybe—just maybe—we dig deep and acknowledge that there is another point of view.

We have all traveled down College Road and driven past the same buildings; and perhaps we have felt unheard, invisible, or misunderstood. Perhaps we have felt that there wasn’t a place for us in the Wellesley community. The diverse views of each member of our community affect how they experience Wellesley. Just think how different our experiences are from those of the alums who sat in that drawing room so many years ago. How could we possibly think that an organization structured to meet the needs of Wellesley and its alums in 1880 wouldn’t need to be modernized to meet the needs we have in 2023 and beyond, creating space for all our alumnae?

I told you thinking about governance is thrilling!

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