Owning It: An Interview With the GUWIL Summit Team

owning itThis week, The Hoya guide profiled Georgetown University Women in Leadership, whose sold-out Own It Summit is slated to bring a slew of inspirational women to the Hilltop on April 12. Judy Smith, inspiration for “Scandal” character Olivia Pope; Richelle Parham, chief marking officer for eBay; and Norah O’Donnell, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” are among the many big names set to take the stage at GUWIL’s inaugural event.

Here at 4E, we’re undeniably fans of Maria Shriver, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and the numerous others who will be making an appearance at the GUWIL Summit; however, we are even bigger fans of the dynamic team who put the event together. We sat down with the women behind GUWIL’s Own It Summit to talk about everything from girl crushes to summit aspirations to how one team member avoided being eaten by a bear.

ui9dketxvaz6svj13haiKendall Ciesemier
Summit Co-Chair
COL ’15

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Okay, I’m about to get super cheesy on you all. I really believe that planning this summit will be the most rewarding experience I have at Georgetown. I have found incredible friends through this organization. I have an incredible co-chair. I just really love being a part of something I believe in so much. GUWIL is an organization that pumps you up. We are all about that: supporting each other, celebrating success, etc. It’s really an amazing community and it’s really become one of my “homes” at Georgetown.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am most looking forward to the media panel. I swear I’m going to poop my pants, or cry, or both, standing in the same room as Norah O’Donnell and Alex Wagner. I think they are the bees knees. And then of course it’s always fun to think about the day when my work for nearly a year will come to fruition.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I have so many of them. Top two as of now are probably Lisa Ling and Mindy Kaling. I basically want to be Lisa Ling when I grow up. She tells amazing stories and is such a fantastic journalist. As for Mindy, I just want to be best friends with her because she would make me laugh so hard that I wouldn’t be able to drink because it would come out of my nose. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love coffee shooting out of her nose?

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador would be Bradley Cooper for a few obvious reasons.
1. He went to Georgetown, so as far as being a GUWIL manbassador goes, he fits the bill entirely.
2. He’s incredibly good-looking.
3. He seems like a really nice guy.

Leading by example:
When I was little, my friends and I desperately wanted to be like Lindsay Lohan from The Parent Trap. But instead of just eating Oreos with peanut butter, I took it a little farther. I successfully developed a plan of action, convinced my brother and three of my friends to follow and carry out a Lindsay Lohan makeover via a “side-bang” haircut. Of course one of my friends had to be in a wedding the next day and her mom made her cut off all of her hair to match the damage. I was grounded for two weeks and at age six I started to think that I was heading down the wrong path.

Power style:
I think my power style during the duration of this summit planning has become the “make-them-think-I-just-worked-out” look. Others feel lazy because they didn’t work out (that’s a plus). You all know what I mean. Basically, you didn’t have time to shower and have no intention of actually going to the gym, so you just wear workout clothes because you don’t have any clean clothes and you don’t have time to do your hair or makeup. Yep, that’s it. That’s my secret sauce. I’ll make up for my poor hygiene on the day of the Summit. I already bought a banging bright colored dress that I’m pumped to wear!

 

xjsmlgae7vh6elg6zqkaHelen Brosnan
Summit Co-Chair
SFS ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
It is beyond cool to meet a group of women who you know are all advocating for your and women’s success in general. That, and working alongside the one, the only, Kendall. We’ve shared a few frantic phone calls and a few more rolled eyes in meetings where people did not take well to the Summit. I consider myself very lucky to work with someone who has a work ethic of all of the best animals combined, you know?

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
Probably when Kara Swisher and I inevitably end up taking a selfie on stage. No, this was not in her speaking contract, but I did tell her it was a dream of mine so we shall see. Also, on a serious note, I am really looking forward to having women and men at Georgetown realize how many insanely awesome and non-linear career paths there are out there.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
They change from day to day, but right now I’m on a complete Madeleine Albright binge. I just read her book, Prague Winter, and couldn’t put it down. She’s incredibly astute, extremely loyal and literally saved our country from multiple disasters. Disclaimer: I dressed up as Albright for four consecutive Halloweens.

On manbassadors:
Manbassadors are a HUGE part of our organization, especially as it pertains to the mission of the Summit. A large part of generating and supporting women’s success is contingent on men’s efforts (and if both are successful, then the world is more successful!). It is a simple fact that the majority of CEOs are men and they will still be the majority for the next few years. Accepting this, we need to make sure men know the best ways to elevate the women in their companies. The same goes for government — if we have male leaders in place, we need to do a better job at making sure they are capable of advocating for the women around them. My ideal manbassador, as of late, is Seth Meyers. I want him to teach a course to Congress on being a manbassador. One time he said this and I cried: “When you work with the sort of really strong women that I work with, the idea that anyone would want to make decisions for them is hard to wrap your head around.”

Leading by example:
When I was chosen to be a line leader in second grade – FIRST GIRL TO BE CHOSEN, OH YEAH – I led everyone straight to the cafeteria when it was gym time. #priorities

Power style:
I’ve definitely tried to rock the Madeleine Albright brooch and cannot pull it off. I would say my power style is a black coat with black sunglasses that blantantly don’t fit my face. This look is sort of a la Hillary Clinton (not this) but really there is just something about wearing aggressively large black sunglasses even when it’s raining out that makes you feel 1/28 as powerful as Hillz.

 

zih3idigvgfut5n3vqo3Ava Arroyo
Co-President of GUWIL
SFS ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Seeing the organization grow from 0 to over 100 members in just under a year is so inspiring because there is a true need for this community and network on campus. Also, I love meeting new and interesting people all the time!

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I’m looking forward to inspiring the attendees to #Own their success and reach for what they want in life. Also, I’m so excited for all the amazing speakers who are going to blow people away with their personalities, stories and wisdom.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is Kristen Wiig because she’s hilarious. She doesn’t hold back anything. I’ve seen every single one of her “SNL” skits.

The ideal manbassador:
John Hamm, or Don Draper as some people may know him from “Mad Men.” John Hamm actually has spoken out a lot for women’s rights and equality and I think he would set a good example for other men in the room if he attended.

Leading by example:
When I was 8 years old at camp, my counselors had forgotten to follow regular camping protocol of leveraging the food high up in a tree in order to prevent bears and other animals from coming near the campsite, and a bear ended up being right outside our tents at 3 a.m. I somehow managed to remain calm even when my counselors had no clue what to do and comfort the other 8-year-old campers who wanted to hysterically cry. I call that crisis management.

Power style:
I love wearing all black. It instantly commands a room and is just so classic and powerful.

 

girqhtrjyfuaekxsjnmpAlana Snyder
Co-President of GUWIL
COL ’16

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
I’ve gotten to lead an incredible team of women and men. I’ve met so many people who are just as passionate about the things I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s nice having such a close-knit community available to support me and encourage me to always do my best. No matter how cheesy that sounds, it will always be true. I’m forever thankful that this group I put together with Ava sitting at a back table in Saxby’s my freshman year has exploded into quite the Georgetown buzz. It makes me happy to be able to say I’ve been here since the beginning.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I’m most looking forward to seeing the reaction that the attendees will have the day of the event. I know that sounds pretty generic, but I don’t think people recognize what they have coming to them. This event is going to be fun, inspiring and representative of Georgetown, and I think people won’t be able to get enough of it!

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is Maria Shriver. She’s done so many incredible things for women everywhere that it’s impossible not to be impressed. She gets things done. She meets with the president. She’s a mom. She might as well have super powers.

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador for GUWIL would be Calvin Millien. He is the kind of guy who focuses on himself but always has time for others. He doesn’t discriminate based on gender. He comes to a lot of our events. He is supportive. He is honest. He isn’t afraid to tell people that he is a manbassador. He goes out of his way to make sure that we know he’s on our side. It’s very flattering and I think GUWIL is only made stronger by its members, especially the men. It’s important for us that men be part of the conversation because we need them to be aware of the obstacles women face. Men are just as much a part of the solution to a lot of the problems we address as women are.

Leading by example:
When I was little, I was on a dance team. At one of our performances, I forgot the moves so I made up my own and the rest of the girls on my team followed. We ended up with a routine of seven year olds trying to do the worm on stage.

Power style:
I love all things pink. And I still manage to get taken seriously!

 

lmfzzh0meivatal5rxvnAllyn Rosenberger
Director of Marketing
COL ’17

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Meeting absolutely amazing people, both students and speakers, has been the best part of GUWIL! These connections are invaluable and I’m so lucky to be making them.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
Even though every single moment of the Summit is going to be equally incredible, I am most looking forward to the conversations that attendees will have with each other and our speakers. Just like in my previous answer, I really value connections.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
Chelsea Clinton. I love her. Her dedication to improving the lives of individuals both here and globally is truly inspiring.

The ideal manbassador:
My ideal manbassador would have to be Jon Stewart. His progressive thinking is the essence of advancing women in leadership.

Leading by example:
In third grade, I successfully founded and ran a “pencil fixing” business with a girl in my class. Basically, we charged people candy to take the erasers off their pencils (in retrospect, we obviously weren’t fixing anything!). Sadly, our teacher learned of this secret business and ended it forever.

Power style:
I wear a silver ring on my left thumb and I don’t go anywhere without it!

 

adahufwdvqndi6xx6a8aElizabeth Buffone
Director of Speakers & Host Committee
COL ’14

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
My favorite part of being in GUWIL has been being able to connect with other like-minded, strong females. Many of my friends who are also seniors are focusing only on graduation and “what’s next.” It’s really been nice to be surrounded by a group of girls who are so present in the moment. We are focusing on making Georgetown a better place for now.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am most looking forward to seeing Judy Hofflund and Louisa Spring because they are two of my own personal role models. They are both in the entertainment industry and that is the industry that I am looking to go into next year. I also have an existing relationship with both of them so I am excited to see how the summit strengthens that. But, let’s be real, I’m also really excited to see the real Olivia Pope, Judy Smith.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
My biggest girl crush is probably on Brit Marling just because I want to do exactly what she has done. She also made movies at Georgetown at a time when the technology made it a lot harder. Back then, you really needed to want it in order to put the effort into making a film. That is something I really admire.

The ideal manbassador:
Bradley Cooper would be my ideal manbassador because he is so relevant to Georgetown, so good looking and so cool.

Leading by example:
One time when I was little, I steered a sled with my dad down my driveway. Right as we passed through, a huge tree fell down. It missed us by two seconds. Leadership, luck or superpowers? You be the judge.

Power style:
My power accessory is my signature red Goyard bag. It has my initials on it and I love it.

 

zfir1g5gnoeq0q7l8udaKatherine Key
Director of Logistics
SFS ’15

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
I have loved getting to know all of the other great women involved in leadership across Georgetown’s campus.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I am very much looking forward to all the speakers. I think I will probably freak out the most about Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, because I am starting to learn to code so she is an inspiration to me.

Who is your biggest girl crush?
Amy Poehler, bar none. I am obsessed with both her organization, Smart Girls at the Party, as well as her work on “SNL” and “Parks and Recreation.”

The ideal manbassador:
My favorite “male feminist” is probably Jimmy Carter. He realizes the importance of empowering women as an agent for change. He is also a fellow Georgian.

Leading by example:
If you know me, you know none of my leadership stories are short…

Power style:
I can’t leave my house without my favorite watch. It is set three minutes ahead so I am always early, and I have worn it every single day since seventh grade.

 

kxreplp7pqpixo7acvoq-1Kelly Mosser
Director of Sponsorships
SFS 2015

What has been your favorite part about being in GUWIL?
Working with such a talented team of amazing female leaders and seeing a strong reaction to our cause. And bowling.

What are you looking forward to most about the GUWIL Summit?
I can’t wait to feel the buzz of having all of these amazing women interacting together in one room!

Who is your biggest girl crush and why?
My older sister, Kim. She #owns her awesome Capitol Hill career and is an amazing mom to my niece, who just turned one. She teaches me so much about balance.

The ideal manbassador:
Derek Jeter, because I like to think we have similar styles of leadership. He’s always composed, energetic, and knows that actions speak louder than words. He’s all about the team.

Leading by example:
I started a Disney sing-along on an airplane at age 4. #LeadersAreBornNotMade

Power style:
I’m obsessed with jackets. You can go pretty much anywhere in a blazer and jeans.

For more information about GUWIL, head to their website here, and click here to find out all the latest information about the inaugural Own It Summit.

Photos: Courtesy GUWIL
KP

KP

KP served as 4E's senior editor from Fall 2013 - Spring 2014.
KP

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