The award recognizes Koverola's commitment to mentoring women in Higher Education.
Catherine Koverola, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences at Lesley University was recently awarded the 2014 Massachusetts American Council on Education Women’s Network Leadership Award for her mentorship of women in higher education. The award “recognizes women at any stage of their career who exhibit leadership in mentoring, promoting, and encouraging women in the field of higher education in Massachusetts.”
“The Massachusetts ACE Women's Network is a part of a national organization of ACE state-coordinated groups dedicated to the IDEALS to identify, develop, encourage, advance, link and support women in higher education. The annual Leadership Award recognizes women leaders in higher education who embody the IDEALS and have impacted others,” says Lisa Ijiri, Associate Provost for Academic and Resource Planning at Lesley, and 2014-2015 Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Women's Network executive board.
The network sponsors several events each year, which Koverola regularly attends, bringing female colleagues with her as an opportunity for them to connect with other faculty and administrators in the region. Dean Koverola’s first encounter with an ACE women’s network was in 2008, when she attended a New England Conference. At the time she was living in Alaska, where she worked for five years. The experience stands out for Koverola as a defining moment in her career; she considers her continued involvement with the network to be the pathway to her career as a Higher Ed administrator.
“This award means a great deal to me because it recognizes the value of women mentoring other women, which is something I feel is extremely important and very much needed in higher education,” Koverola says. “It makes me think of all of the times I was mentored, and given a hand throughout my own career. There were women in my life who believed in me, and weren’t threatened by my strength or vision.” It also highlights for Koverola the need for continued mentorship for women in professional settings.
“As much as it makes me reflect on my own incredible mentors, it reminds of those times when I wasn’t supported. I know how that feels, too.
Koverola has brought her mentorship philosophy to the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences at Lesley, where she has established a program through which new faculty hires are paired with experienced Lesley faculty members. The program is also for those faculty who are new to administrative roles within the University.
“Since my arrival on campus as a new faculty member last summer, it has been clear to me that Dr. Koverola is committed to the advancement of women,” says Raquel Stephenson, Assistant Professor of Expressive Therapies and participant in Koverola’s mentorship program. “Not only does the depth of her interest in my ideas move me, but also her commitment to helping me advance my vision is remarkable.”
"My approach to mentorship has always been about 'being' rather than 'doing,'" Koverola says. "It's being with that person through whatever state they're in -- worry and ambivalence, or joy and success. It's the way I've approached being a mentor, a clinician, and a parent." It is this human-to-human connection that has touched many of Koverola's colleagues.
"Many deans are perceived as 'administration' or 'the other,' yet Catherine makes systematic efforts to break down such stereotypes," remarks Lisa Fiore, Dean of Faculty at Lesley. "I seek her personal advice with respect to my own wellbeing, but especially regarding the parenting of my own two children. As the proud mother of an intelligent, curious, and strong young woman, Catherine shares her own stories of success and stumbles, which I consider to be powerful reminders of our humanity and connectedness."
Catherine continues to make connections with women across the field of Higher Education.
“So often women are made to feel that their authentic selves aren’t okay. I want women to know that you can be yourself and be a great administrator or faculty member. You don’t have to give up who you are.”
Ultimately, for Koverola mentorship is about creating pathways and opportunities for others to become exceptional leaders.
“It’s exhilarating to see people I care about go on to do incredible things in their careers.”
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