In May 2002, then-president Nannerl O. Keohane launched the Women's Initiative to document the personal experiences and needs of women at Duke and to develop strategies to address the challenges women face as students, faculty members, employees, and alumnae. After the Women's Initiative Steering Committee (WISC) delivered its report last fall, Michele Miller Sales '78, J.D. '81, then-president of the Duke Alumni Association (DAA), urged officials to share it with the Duke community, particularly in the cities where focus groups of alumni had provided information.
With the backing of the DAA and in partnership with Duke's Council on Women's Studies, WISC took its message on the road. Venues were chosen, invitations were mailed, and a panel of speakers from the steering committee was formed. At receptions in New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Triangle, the committee reported on its findings, recommendations, and actions--from stronger undergraduate-life programs to graduate-student program enhancements, from changes in the faculty tenure system to improvement in staff support, from educational opportunities to better child care.
Keohane kicked off the first reception in New York in February and spoke in March in Washington. Panel participants in the various cities included Allison Haltom '72, vice president and university secretary; Donna Lisker, director of the Women's Center at Duke; Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs; and Ellen Medearis, director of major and leadership gifts at the development office. The seven-city tour attracted nearly 1,000 alumni, parents, and friends of the university.