Andrews University Celebrates Women in Leadership

   Campus News | Posted on April 20, 2023

Lake Michigan College and the Andrews University Office of University Culture & Inclusion hosted “Speaking Up With Women,” on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. The event aimed to show support for local women in leadership. The event took place in Newbold Auditorium on the campus of Andrews University.

Attendees experienced an afternoon filled with inspiration, networking and learning from outstanding women in the region. The event began with Andrews University student Nicholas Gunn giving opening words on the importance of celebrating diversity in Southwest Michigan. “Highlighting the contributions of women and other communities should not be delegated to a month but our differences should be highlighted and celebrated all year long,” Gunn emphasized. Michael Nixon, vice president for University Culture & Inclusion at Andrews University, then took the stage to offer opening remarks and prayer. 

Cam Herth, Lake Michigan College Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, spoke on the topic “What is DEI?” Herth closed his statements with a moment of silence as a tribute to the late Gladys Peeples Burks. Andrews University senior Khaylee Sands then gave a presentation on the fight for women’s rights and how she has been able to use her voice to advocate for her community.

During intermission, food was catered by Base Bowls & Company, a local female-owned business.

Attendees returned to the auditorium for an awards ceremony where the diversity offices of Lake Michigan College and Andrews University honored Summit Financial Wellness, Princella Tobias, who publishes the Benton Spirit newspaper, Chelsea Lake of WAUS 90.7 FM, and Andrea Luxton, the first female president of Andrews University. Certificates of appreciation for service and dedication to leadership were given to each of the honorees.

A panel discussion featuring prominent women leaders in the region closed the event. Panelists included Laura Goos, mayor of St. Joseph; Danielle Pilgrim, PhD, Andrews University chaplain; Afiya Latham, co-owner of Express Employment Professionals in St. Joseph; Charmae Sanders, Lake Michigan College Start to Finish program director; Stephanie Ott, owner of Base Bowls & Company; and Dashuna Robinson, president of the Benton Harbor Area School Board. The panelists shared on the issues of advocating for women and speaking up for justice. 

When asked how men and other members of the community can better advocate for women, Robinson said, “I think it’s important for men to understand the strength of a woman is not a threat. Often there is a misinterpretation that when a woman is dominant or a strong leader that it somehow makes the man next to her look or feel minimized. And I think it’s an important conversation that we need to have and that men need to have amongst themselves to understand that there is power in a woman to be strong.”

Event coordinator Nicholas Gunn said “‘Speaking Up With Women’ was a tremendous opportunity for everyone in our region to connect and share experiences to support one another. I look forward to planning and coordinating more events like this to create a more inclusive community that will showcase our great diversity that is often overlooked.”

   Jeff Boyd