Women’s Center Celebrates 20 Years Serving Kent State
This year, the Kent State University Women’s Center is celebrating 20 years of service and leadership at Kent State. Over the past two decades, the center has changed its mission to respond to the changing community, expanding from a resource center for faculty to a much larger center serving students, faculty and staff, with programs addressing a wide variety of needs and interests.
As the center’s mission has expanded, so has its staff and its need for space. This year, the center moved to a new home in the Williamson House. The new student lounge in the house is bright and spacious, reflecting the ways in which the Women’s Center has become a meeting place where community is formed. The center is a unique place where faculty, staff and students can mingle and find common interests and causes. Study hours for students who are mothers might overlap with a yoga workshop attended by Kent State staff or a mentorship meeting between a faculty member and an intern. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is challenged to expand their horizons.
At the Women’s Center, small ideas and needs can often spark exciting projects as more people get involved in the work. For example, several years ago, a kitchen cabinet was given over to storing donated nonperishables for students, faculty and staff who would drop in to the center in crisis and describe how hard it was to make ends meet. This cabinet quickly evolved into the SHARE Project: a program devoted to building community by giving everyone the chance to both give and receive help. In addition to a much larger food pantry, the SHARE Project now includes initiatives such as a diaper drive, opportunities to take action against food insecurity and a collaborative project to provide coats and hats when Ohio weather turns cold.
At the core of the work of the Women’s Center is its celebration of the leadership and achievements of women. This year marks the launch of a new Women’s Leadership Academy, which pairs students with mentors and includes workshops and projects to build confident, able leaders who are ready to change the world.
Additionally, annual events such as the signature Mothers, Mentors and Muses awards and SAGE Project recognize the sometimes overlooked contributions of women on campus. Since its initiation, Mothers, Mentors and Muses has honored more than 300 women for their roles as leaders and mentors who have nurtured, inspired and birthed innovation and success. The SAGE Project, now in its third year, celebrates students who have overcome adversity with creativity, risk-taking and leadership.
These programs are just a sample of the creativity and energy at the Women’s Center. As the community settles in to its new home in the Williamson House, things are only getting busier.
“We are excited to have room to breathe and grow,” says Heather Adams, executive director for the Women’s Center and the Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services, which is also housed in the Williamson House. “The move to the Williamson House gives us an amazing opportunity to better respond to the needs of faculty, staff and students, and I just love seeing the energy in new spaces like the student lounge.”
Make sure to stop by the Williamson House for its grand opening on Sept. 28 from 4-6 p.m., and keep your eyes open for opportunities to celebrate with the Women’s Center as it marks its 20th anniversary.