Message from the President

A Message from the President

Happy New Year Thrive Members! We are excited to be kicking off the new year with a theme of confidence. Coming soon, you can expect to see more roundtable discussions, a second round of our successful lunch pairings, a new book club starting, and an event featuring renowned speaker and author Kimberly Faith. We’ve started a new ambassador program and have a strong and vibrant membership of 877 at last count. It's thrilling to think how far we've come since Marianne Corr and other leaders began first thinking about this idea back in 2015.

To learn more about our history, current structure and our vision, continue reading here. I look forward to seeing you at upcoming events as we grow in confidence together!

Yours in Notre Dame,

Diana Placzkowski, Thrive! President

Our History

With the establishment of Fr. John’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and subsequent initiatives, Marianne Corr and other senior level women administrators got together to talk about what they could do to enhance the work life of women at Notre Dame.

They decided that the best thing they could do was, first, to listen to other women to hear what they think would make ND an even better place to work for all of us.

  • A series of small group lunches were held in the spring of 2015, from which three themes emerged:
    • A desire for more networking opportunities to address the issue of women feeling isolated in their work environments where there were often too few other women
    • A desire for targeted professional development to help women round out their skills to become even stronger candidates for advancement within the organization
    • A desire for a mentoring program to tap into the advice of more senior employees, both men and women

Two committees were formed in an effort to make progress on these specific areas: the Professional Development and Networking committee chaired by Sarah Misener, and the Mentoring committee chaired by Liz Rulli. These groups put out a call for volunteers and began organizing and working towards programs that would fill the needs identified by the women on campus.

At the same time, another women’s group on campus existed as well and was working towards a similar mission. The Notre Dame Committee for women was a group committed to being a visible and effective advocate to provide opportunities for recreational, motivational, and instructive idea sessions for the women employed by the University of Notre Dame. This group began as an offshoot from the Staff Advisory Council (SAC) in 2004 and originally only included nonexempt staff members, but was later opened up to all female employees including faculty. With similar purposes of serving the women of Notre Dame, it made sense to align the newly formed group with the existing one.

In July of 2016, Marianne Corr, Linda Costas, and Sarah Misener met with me in my role as current president of the Notre Dame Committee for women to invite me to lead the newly created Employee Resource Group for women. I gladly accepted and immediately began work putting together a team of officers to assist in the task of developing bylaws, formalizing our structure, and getting the group up and running. In August of 2016 we officially launched THRIVE! Inspiring ND Women.

Our Structure

We are fortunate to have a group of senior level leaders to act as a steering committee who are supportive of this group and provide guidance and overall vision as we think strategically about advancing women here at Notre Dame.

The governing body of Thrive is the board made up of our executive officers and committee chairs as well as a Steering committee representative.

We currently have four committees designed to carry out the work of Thrive.

  • Professional Development and Networking
    • Focused on providing opportunities for developing skills and interacting with others on campus to assist in professional growth
  • Engagement
    • Focused on creating opportunities for women to build community and connection here on campus
  • Mentoring
    • Focused on developing a formal mentor program to match interested mentors/mentees, encouraging those relationships, and equipping/empowering mentors
  • Communications
    • Focused on ways to spread the word about Thrive, create a strong brand, and keep our membership informed

We have been intentional about creating opportunities to advance women throughout our own organizational structure. Often, women continue in their growth and development, but find few opportunities to practice their skills within their current roles. We have many opportunities through committee work, both chair and officer roles, our ambassador program, and mentoring for women to work with and learn from one another. Our bylaws support short terms for leadership positions to encourage movement giving more women the change to practice their skills in a safe, low risk environment. These opportunities also provide access and exposure to leaders at Notre Dame as well as people from other areas of campus one may not cross paths with otherwise.

Our Vision

Moving ahead we would like to continue to find ways to see women advanced at Notre Dame. I attended a women’s leadership conference last year and one of the speakers said “It’s hard to be what you cannot see.” That really struck me. For women to believe there is a place in leadership at Notre Dame for them, and if we want to attract and retain talented women, we need to see women in leadership at Notre Dame. To that end, we will continue to work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and with Talent Acquisition to find ways to support that initiative and quantify and track our progress. We will also continue to dedicate time and resources towards professional development and meaningful professional connections through networking and mentoring for the women of Notre Dame.

In order for us to enhance the environment of women on this campus, it is also a fact that we will need to identify and engage our male allies, those who will partner with us to champion the cause. First, we need to learn to champion each other. While studying opera in college, I had a sage voice teacher who told me, “There is a place for everyone in music.” What she meant was that there are many paths, not one, and many needs in the world to be filled and that each of us has talents and gifts worthy of appreciation, capable of filling those needs. The thought that every person, including me, could find a place gave me hope in a time of uncertainty in my life. I don’t believe that this applies only to music.

I believe that we need to support one another. We need to recognize the greatness we see in others. We need to celebrate one another’s successes. We need to reach a hand out or down or back, whenever we can.  We need to believe that another person’s light burning bright doesn’t cause our own to diminish; someone else’s success doesn’t have to take away from ours. There is a place for each one of our unique talents and abilities.

I am so proud to have had a part in developing this group and so grateful for the incredible women I have met and served with along the way. As we continue to work together, my hope is that we will inspire others to thrive here at Notre Dame and make this an even better place to work.  

Diana Placzkowski, Inaugural President for Thrive! Inspiring ND Women