Message from the President

Kate And Diana CropInaugural President Diana Placzkowski and 2019–20 President Kate Garry

We are excited to be kicking off the 2019–2020 year with the theme Champions for Change!

We can think about this in two ways—first is championing each other—supporting and mentoring fellow women in the workplace, and providing outstanding professional development, networking, and engagement opportunities focused on women and issues specific to working women.

The second is reaching out across campus to engage male allies in Thrive’s mission to increase opportunities for women to be recruited, retained, and advanced as leaders at the University of Notre Dame. 

This is an important next step, particularly given that the senior leadership team at Notre Dame—and at most other institutions—is still predominantly male. 

The good news is when men do become directly involved in gender diversity efforts, studies show that both men and women see a positive impact. A recent worldwide study by Boston Consulting Group shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress—compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.

The Thrive! board is planning an event for fall 2019 that will highlight some successful examples of male leaders championing women at the university and we hope this will be a great way to kick off this important conversation on campus.

I welcome your suggestions for programming or any other ideas you have to contribute to the Champions for Change effort and to Thrive! more generally. So please, reach out to me or any one of the other board members or committee chairs at any time.

Thank you so much to all of our officers, chairs, committee members, and ambassadors for your willingness to dedicate some of your time and energy to Thrive! As a working mom myself, I know time and energy are precious commodities, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you. I'm thrilled to be partnering with all of you in the coming year!

To learn more about our organization's history and structure, continue reading here. I also invite you to check out the latest issue of our Thriving@ND newsletter and our upcoming events, and consider joining our Thrive! Linkedin group

I look forward to seeing you at one of these events soon!

Yours in Notre Dame,

Kate Garry, Thrive! President

Our History

With the establishment of Fr. John’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and subsequent initiatives, Vice President and General Counsel 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.

OfficersInaugural officers at the Thrive! launch event

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 Diana Placzkowski, then-president of the Notre Dame Committee for Women, and invited her to lead the Employee Resource Group for women they had created. As the inaugural president, Diana put together a team of officers to assist in the task of developing bylaws, formalizing a structure, and getting the group up and running. In August of 2016, THRIVE! Inspiring ND Women was officially launched. It is now one of the largest and most active Employee Resource Groups at Notre Dame. 

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


Focused on creating opportunities for women to build community and connection here on campus, including outreach to new members through a Thrive! ambassador program


Focused on developing a formal mentor program to match interested mentors/mentees, encouraging those relationships, and equipping/empowering mentors


Focused on ways to spread the word about Thrive, create a strong brand, and keep our membership informed

Our Leadership Opportunities

Since the beginning, Thrive! has 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.

Each spring, Thrive! puts out a call for self-nominations for officer and committee positions. Applications are open to any member of the organization. For more information, review our bylaws or contact any one of our officers or committee chairs.