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Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

The Power of Resilience

Fall, 2013, Spring 2014

What we call our dispair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope. George Eliot

Stepping Up, Speaking Out, Breaking Through: The Power of Resilience

Resilience is deeply woven into the fabric of human experience. When confronted with obstacles or injustice, people throughout the world have pushed forward in creative ways to achieve their goals and bring about positive changes. We are inspired by individuals who do not back down from daunting challenges but instead stare back and whisper, "Bring it on." While we often marvel at the incredible perseverance of icons long before our time, we also need to acknowledge the courage demonstrated by our young people's actions which serve as the foundation for resilience. How do we maintain our convictions in the face of discouraging odds? What gives us the strength to continue on, despite pushback and criticism, no matter how steep the climb?

This year, the Weissman Center for Leadership will spotlight three extraordinary women who demonstrate the power of resilience. Award-winning actress America Ferrera, the daughter of immigrant parents from Honduras, has appeared in star-studded roles in the TV comedy "Ugly Betty" and movie "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." She has stepped up as an artist ambassador for women and girls around the world, bringing to light incredible stories of resilience and the need for education. Meghan McCain, a blogger and political commentator, has been speaking up despite critics from her own political party on behalf of women's rights and gay rights. She will take her words to a new stage as she hosts her own TV show "Raising McCain" to bring to light issues of concern among young people. Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon, breaking through gender barriers despite being physically intimidated. Her story inspired Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education and sports.

We will also feature two Leading Women- the "Leading Women in the Arts", co-sponsored by the InterArts Council, is world-renowned architect Billie Tsien. The "Leading Women in Technology" is Rehma Saujani who founded Girls Who Code. Finally, our leadership conference, "Meet Your Inner RIsk Taker," will be led by author and coach Selena Rezvani whose book "PUSHBACK: How Smart Women Ask- and Stand Up- for What They Believe" has received critical acclaim.

Whether in the field, on the campaign trail, or at the office, we need women to speak out, break through barriers, push back, and persist in their convictions. We invite you to join us this year as we celebrate women's leadership with a focus on resilience. At the same time, we hope this is an opportunity to take a closer look at the positive power of our own actions, and to challenge ourselves to step-up as change makers.

Becky Wai-Ling Packard
Director, Weissman Center for Leadership
Professor, Psychology and Education