Today@Sam Article

Women Trailblazers: Mentorship Program Supports Women in Higher Education

March 2, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


Top Row (L-R) Jaime Anderson, Dana Bible, Brittni MacLeod, Tiffany Driver

Bottom Row (L-R) Montse Feu, Heather Varela, Michele Mitchell, Tessy Rappé, Kyley Houck

At Sam Houston State University, there is no shortage of strong women professionals, including Tessy Rappé, Kyley Houck and Heather Varela, the three founders of SHSU Women: Leadership, Engagement, and Development (We LEAD), an employee resource group that allows faculty and staff to establish a support network around a common identity or interest.

The mission of We LEAD is to examine issues relevant to women in higher education, while also furthering the university strategy of promoting lifelong learning, providing a stimulating environment, anticipating employee needs and enhancing community outreach.

SHSU_WeLead_icon_txt_orng_fRappé, associate vice president, Houck, budget analyst II, and Varela, human resources diversity coordinator, all for the Finance and Operations division, recognized that, while the women and allies of SHSU are unique individuals from various backgrounds, they all share a common desire to succeed and develop professionally. To meet this need, We LEAD was launched in fall 2018 and continues to grow in size and impact. 

“By participating in We LEAD, our members can connect with others who share similar struggles, goals and achievements. The feeling of connection and being a part of something can bring so much more value to your career,” Rappé said. “We LEAD events give members something to look forward to, because we enjoy learning from one another.”

In addition, it is their hope to connect women who have achieved success, with those who are trying to cultivate their own paths, by fostering sponsorships and mentoring.

“The opportunities to connect with other people at work who understand and cheer for us, is crucial. Those networks can make it easier to develop and work toward our goals,” Brittni MacLeod, program specialist for Leadership Initiatives said. “The more people we can connect with in a meaningful way, the better.”

Their initiatives and projects throughout the year aim to promote a constant message of inclusion and empowerment, while also examining issues like tenure, compensation, paternal leave and representation in senior leadership positions.

All faculty/staff are encouraged to apply. We LEAD membership is open to all SHSU faculty/staff, women and allies.

Click here to read more from the SHSU's Women Trailblazers issue of Heritage Magazine. 

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