Oregon Women in Higher Education Conference and the Moving the Needle Pledge

16251703_10154958199104557_3271148685388399567_oOregon Women in Higher Education (OWHE) is the higher education association representing women in the state of Oregon.  Its mission is to “Inspire women to connect, grow and lead change in higher education” and strives for “An educational, social and political climate in which diverse women benefit from the opportunities in higher education and shape the progression of their chosen field.”

We (Ann Mestrovich, Rachel Samuelson, and Sarah Kenney) are PSU’s representatives for OWHE, Rachel as outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors, and Ann and Sarah as institutional representatives. In late January, we traveled to Sunriver along with 28 of our colleagues to attend the OWHE 2017 Annual Conference. As you can imagine, the weather did not disappoint and we spent 2 days in a winter wonderland complete with accumulations of several feet of snow (and ice) which made for a picturesque and somewhat slippery environment!

The conference offered  sessions that provided opportunities for strengthening our skills 16265960_10154954947534557_1973660594494969623_nat leading people through change, expanding our understanding of personal finance, and , asking attendees to confront difficult and challenging questions. One of the most engaging sessions was focused on confronting whiteness in the workplace and attendees reviewed recent case studies from Oregon colleges and universities to create a dialog on a topic that many people find hard to discuss.  In the spirit of OWHE’s mission to “Inspire women to connect, grow and lead change” attendees engaged in an honest dialog about their own experiences confronting whiteness with their colleagues, their campuses, and within themselves.

During the conference, we learned about the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Moving the Needle Pledge from keynote speaker Evie Myers, JD. The pledge is part of a national campaign that asks presidents of colleges, universities and related associations to commit to help achieve the goal that by 2030, half of US. college and university chief executives are women. On our return to campus we asked President Wiewel to sign the pledge and we are thrilled to announce that it has been signed, making PSU the 437th organization to commit to the pledge. We looking forward to welcoming a new president to campus this fall and to learn more about their vision for supporting women in leadership roles.

16797967_10155039498004557_8860069055292408618_oNow more than ever, we believe that it is critical for women to come together and support each other. We would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone on our campus to join the PSU chapter of OWHE, established to create a network of peers who can support one another and work towards fulfilling OWHE’s mission. Our chapter holds meet-up events throughout the year to build relationships and explore various professional development topics. You can register to receive our monthly newsletters and learn more about our events.

If you would like to contact us, please email:

Ann Mestrovich: ann.mestrovich@pdx.edu

Rachel Samuelson: samuelson@pdx.edu

Sarah Kenney: skenney@pdx.edu