Women in Philanthropy of Ohio University (WIP) hosted "Divas and Desserts" April 27 at Walter Rotunda.

Photographer: Allison Hartman

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Women in Philanthropy celebrate "Divas and Desserts"

Women in Philanthropy of Ohio University (WIP) hosted "Divas and Desserts" April 27 at Walter Rotunda. This mixer was the first event of the "OHIO Women Making a Difference Conference."

Alumnae were invited to network with others over a glass of apricot punch and a plate of pastries. The attendees celebrated their post-graduate non-profit work, and gained inspiration from featured speakers.

"This is where the real divas are," said 1976 graduate Barbara Strom Thompson, a child development specialist from Maryland. As the chair of the WIP executive committee, she emphasized its mission to increase loyalty and to train future generations in the program. "When you make the time to hang around and observe, it is very rewarding," she said.

Regarding philanthropic contributions, she said, "we celebrate even a first time $5 donation.". Although, she also assured that you need not donate money in order to participate in service, only time and attention.

Alyson Kado, a freshman student representative, spoke of her desire to help those less fortunate. As a high school senior, she was the head of a service project that donated $20,000 among several third world countries for them to build wells. On the Athens campus, she has found the number of service opportunities to be plentiful.

The keynote speaker for "Divas and Desserts" was Janelle Simmons, a 1995 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She is currently the director of community relations and philanthropy for Limited Brands, Inc. Prior to this, she had more than 15 years of experience of work with non-profits.

Simmons said the sought to establish a positive stereotype for the "divas" of the world, suggesting that these women are independent and successful intellectuals, who are always prepared and unforgettable.

"Whatever it is you do, do it well...it will raise the bar," she said.

Simmons urged women to know and love themselves, to give others grace, and to give back their time, talent and treasure.

"You must encourage others women, and listen...otherwise you’re not learning," said Simmons.

Each alumna offered wisdom to current students. Thompson assured that time management was perhaps the most valuable things she gained in her undergrad experience.

"Follow your passion," said Simmons. "You will be so shocked where you go."