connect | support | engage
connect | support | engage

The University of Rochester’s new volunteer-led Women’s Network has a mission to harness and celebrate the rich contributions of women around the globe who are part of the University of Rochester family. Through dynamic programming and engaging conversations, the Network will help members connect and support one another.

Guided by the spirit of Meliora and open to all, our values are strong, our community is vibrant, and our commitment to each other runs deep. We know we can achieve great things—together.

Leading Through Change: Today and Looking Forward

Some of our distinguished University alumnae who have served in various leadership positions in law, education, sports, medicine, technology and music joined us for a candid conversation about Leading Through Change.

Hear from them about how pivotal moments in their personal and professional lives served as catalysts for growth, and the lessons learned when faced with changes and challenges.

Membership Benefits

We consider everyone a member of the Women’s Network—all women are welcome.

• Connections: Take part in our networking, professional, and social activities

• Supportive educational programs: Learn and grow with us through in-person and virtual programs

• Exclusive opportunities: Join us at special virtual events and regional pre-receptions, including future Meliora Weekends and Volunteers in Partnership Leadership conferences, and get special access to virtual networking opportunities within The Meliora Collective Women’s Network group.

“I am inspired by how many alumnae around the world are doing amazing work personally and professionally. The Women’s Network provides a new way for us all to connect, celebrate our contributions, and learn from each other. I’m excited to help lead this effort for my alma mater.”

Tiffany Taylor Smith ’91
Women’s Network Co-Chair

Regional Groups

Metro New York City

Leadership: Barbara Grossman Berger ’77, P’10 and Sherli Looi ’04S (MBA)

Washington, DC

Leadership: Debbie Dorfman Drumheller ’74 and Tess Troha-Thompson ’06

San Francisco

Leadership: Ashley Nevins ’16S (MS)

Los Angeles

Leadership: Radhika Dewan Fliegel ’03, Wallis Nash ’15, Lingyu Liu ’10

New England

Leadership: Marcia Mantell ’83 and Sara Halton ’04

Affinity Groups

Simon Women’s Alliance

Leadership: Sheffali Welch ’02S (MBA) and Lynne Amerson ’09S (MBA)

Women in Medicine

Leadership: Allison Ramsey ’05M (MD), ’08M (RES), ’11M (FLW) and Heidi Schwarz ’83M (MD), ’89M (RES), P’11

Get involved

Women who ROC

A Lifetime as a Leader

Ruth Lawrence ’49M (MD) is a pediatrician, clinical toxicologist, neonatologist, and mother of nine. At 95 years old, she can be still found in her Medical Center office three days a week, clad in one of her many white coats and conducting research, advising staff, or preparing for her next classroom lecture.

Blazing new trails for Black women in science

Monique Mendes ’18M (MS), ’20M (PhD) moved from Kingston, Jamaica to South Florida, when she was a teenager. Her parents came to the U.S. with the hope that Monique would live the American dream. And, because of her hard work, determination, and passion for science, she has.

Toting a Tony

When Madeline Topkins Michel ’77 took the stage at the Tony Awards ceremony in June to receive the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award, she quickly asserted that the award wasn’t hers alone—it also belonged to her diverse group of drama students at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“What I learned about the importance of connections with women, I learned from my fellow alumnae. They are simply the best and have inspired me to share the rich contributions of women around the globe who are part of the University of Rochester family.”

Gail Lione ’71
University Trustee
Women’s Network Co-Chair

What we can do, together.

We invite you to take an even more active role in our community. Together, we can do more, change more, and inspire more. With your support, we can:

• Harness ideas and actions that will foster the personal and professional growth of our members

• Develop programs, events, and activities that will inspire and enrich us all

• Create distinct opportunities to hear more women’s voices, to engage the leadership of women, and to foster equitable and inclusive communities

• Channel our collective philanthropic resources to advocate for the causes that matter to us the most, from student support to career and leadership development to innovation across academic disciplines and beyond

○ Consider a gift to our Women’s Network Scholarship to help support students with financial need, who demonstrate excellent character, and whose background advances the University’s goal of having a more diverse student body.

○ Support the Susan B. Anthony Center (SBAC) which helps bring awareness to, and advocates for, social justice and equality. A gift to the SBAC supports many of their initiatives including the HEAL Collaborative which is the only one in the country to provide protection orders bedside and research to address the racial disparities for survivors of abuse.

Upcoming Women’s Network Events

February 19

Leading Through Change

See event details

February 28

Fostering Women’s Health through Self-Care

See event details

March 4

Understanding Our Impact: Women and the Power of Philanthropy

See event details

Women’s Network Webinar Library

These videos exemplify the values of the volunteer-led Women’s Network. Through dynamic programming and engaging conversations, the Network helps members connect and support one another.

Contact Us

For more information about joining the Women’s Network, please contact Caroline Tolbert, associate director, women’s initiatives: or (585) 276-5580. If you want to participate and you’re not sure if this applies to you, contact us.

Caroline Tolbert leads efforts to design programs and events that celebrate women. Caroline joined the University of Rochester in 2015, and through roles in Alumni Relations and Special Events, has showcased her passion for women’s initiatives. Caroline has served for the last six years on the board of trustees at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, a private school based in Rochester, New York, most recently as Chair of the Board. She is also a member of the Junior League of Rochester, and sits on the nominations committee for the ATHENA Awards, sponsored by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.