Category Archives: Women

Alumnae Spotlights: An entrepreneur and a mobile crisis director

At the age of five, Dana McQueen knew that she wanted to become an interior designer and her passion has helped her continue a family legacy.

McQueen earned a degree in interior design in 1992 and decided to return to her family’s business at McQueen’s Interiors in Morehead City.  She admits a family business can sometimes be complex but said the knowledge gained from earning her degree helped with a successful ownership transition.

Dana McQueen

Dana McQueen

“My passion for my clients and interior design coupled with my staff have kept this long-standing business alive,” McQueen said.  Since taking the helm, McQueen has improved business practices including adding a barcode system for inventory and hiring additional designers. She has also expanded the showroom, adding 4,000 sq. ft. of space.

Named Business Women of the Year in 2014 by Crystal Magazine, McQueen said her favorite class at ECU was space planning.  “I still use this knowledge every day,” she said.  “I know the world of computers has opened up so many opportunities with computer-aided design, but it is always best to know the basics with a pencil, paper, and a scale.”

As a successful business owner, McQueen knows firsthand the time involved in building a clientele and communicating with them regarding their wants and needs.  The best part of her job is seeing a project completed and a happy client she said.

Another successful College of Health and Human Performance alumna is leading the largest mobile crisis management service in the state.

Mona Townes, who earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in social work, oversees mobile crisis services to 23 eastern North Carolina counties provided by Integrated Family Services, PLLC.

“My passion is intervening when people are at their worst and to help them see that things can get better,” Townes said. Her team delivers integrated crisis response, crisis intervention and prevention 24/7 to any location in the community, according to the website. Townes said crisis intervention is challenging.

Mona Townes

Mona Townes

“The reward is when you work with a person who admits that without our support, without our ability to provide them with hope, they had planned on taking their life,” she said.

It was Townes’ time at ECU that helped shape her leadership skills.  “I learned that no matter what my background is or where I came from, I could be successful,” said Townes.  “I saw several highly educated and experienced women that looked like me.”

Her favorite course was Human Behavior and Social Environment taught by Dr. Lessie Bass.

Among her many accolades, Townes received the ECU School of Social Work 2015 Rising Star Award.  She serves as a member of the National Association of Social Workers and assists as a training instructor for the local Crisis Intervention Team.  She is a licensed clinical additions specialist associate and is certified by the National Council on Behavioral Health as a facilitator for Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid.

–Kathy Muse

Women’s Roundtable event set for Oct. 13 at ECU

The fifth event in the Incredible Women Series will focus on leadership, service and philanthropy while also recognizing the careers and community service of several East Carolina University alumnae. 

Eleven women will be honored during the Oct. 13 event that will begin at 11 a.m. at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville. Their backgrounds are varied – from the the two college friends who started a worldwide public relations firm to a museum director whose goal is to inspire students through art. 

“It’s very humbling for me to look at this group of women. They’re giants in their fields,” said Gail Herring, chair of the Women’s Roundtable.

Gail Herring

Gail Herring

During the event, the following women will be inducted into the “Incredible ECU Women” group, joining the 117 previous inductees:

  • Angela Allen ’81, Raleigh, retired IBM Executive;
  • Alta Andrews ’74, Ayden, director of Community Partnership and Practice in the ECU College of Nursing;
  • Charlene Bregier ’82, Charlotte, director of the Hinson Art Museum and Visual Arts coordinator at Wingate University;
  • Mary Chatman ’90, ’96, ’12, Savannah, Georgia, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Memorial University Medical Center;
  • Karen Evans ’80, Washington, D.C., lawyer partner with The Cochran Firm;
  • Sarah Evans ’01, Darien, Connecticut, partner at J Public Relations and 7th and Wit;
  • Paulina Hill ’04, Charlestown, Massachusetts, principal at Polaris Partners;
  • Annette Peery ’96, Greenville, associate dean of the undergraduate program in the ECU College of Nursing;
  • Jamie Sigler, ’01, San Diego, California, partner at J Public Relations and 7th and Wit;
  • Cathy Thomas ’79, ’86, Raleigh, branch manager with Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Linda Thomas ’81, Charlotte, retired director of Human Resources Business Partners at Duke Energy.

The proceeds of the event will benefit ECU students through the Women’s Roundtable Access Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Women’s Roundtable Honors College Endowment Fund.

“We promise that you will be inspired, you will be motivated; you’ll hear from students who have benefitted from these scholarships and what it has meant in their lives and how it has changed their lives, because many of these students are first generation college students in their families,” Herring said.

Updates on university initiatives and an opportunity to connect with community and university leaders and volunteers will also be available during the event.

The Women’s Roundtable at ECU was founded in 2003. Its mission is to support ECU and create a culture of giving by raising money for its scholarships and to build a sense of community through leadership, service, networking, mentoring and philanthropy.

Tickets are on sale now for the event. Individual tickets cost $100 and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Visit www.ecu.edu/womensroundtable/incrediblewomen for ticket and other information. 

“Ultimately we’re raising money for scholarships and providing an opportunity for someone to earn a college education who otherwise would not have that chance,” Herring added.

To make a charitable gift to The Women’s Roundtable, Access Scholars or Honors College, or East Carolina University visit www.ecu.edu/give.

–Rich Klindworth

Amin attends national student entrepreneur program

East Carolina University’s Mona Amin is one of 19 students from across the country selected for a prestigious student entrepreneur program.

Amin, an Honors College student from Charlotte, is participating in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneurship Program held June 19-24 in Orlando.

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

“I am most excited about meeting other young female entrepreneurs as well as meeting my mentors from Kroger and Ragozzino Foods,” said Amin before leaving for the conference.

Amin is part of a team developing an app called FreshSpire, a mobile application and text system that notifies consumers, including low-income shoppers, about discounts on near-expiring foods at local grocery stores, allowing them to take advantage of healthy foods at lower prices.

Amin, a biology major set to graduate in 2017, plans to continue work on FreshSpire before attending the Brody School of Medicine as an Early Assurance Scholar.

ECU and North Carolina A&T State University are the only colleges in North Carolina with a student at the conference. Sixteen colleges or universities are represented.

The program aims to foster growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through a tailored entrepreneur curriculum, a live pitch competition awarding $10,000 in seed capital and mentoring from successful Women’s Business Enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.

Students also participate in experiential learning through off-site visits to WBE and corporate campuses and accelerators. Since 2008, more than 150 students from 40 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from the program.

Women-owned businesses are growing at one and a half times the U.S. national average and contribute more than $1.5 trillion dollars to the national economy and employ about 7.9 million people. An average of 887 new businesses opened every day in 2015, according to the WBENC.

For more information, visit http://www.wbenc.org/student-entrepreneur-program/#program-details.

–Crystal Baity

Brody women scientists, clinicians host workshop for middle-school girls

A couple dozen seventh and eight grade female students from three Pitt County schools recently participated in a Biomedical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Workshop at the Brody School of Medicine.

The May 12 event was sponsored by the Brody Women Faculty Committee in collaboration with East Carolina University’s chapter of Graduate Women in Science.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, works with student Kimya Boyd.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, works with student Kimya Boyd. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

The students participated in basic science experiments, lunched with basic sciences and clinical faculty, and joined in a medical simulation at Brody. Faculty, post-doctoral and graduate student volunteers ensured the daylong event was packed with fun-filled activities, advice and support for the future scientists and clinicians.

“The students left with smiles on their faces. It’s very rewarding to know that we had a positive impact on them,” said Dr. Lisa Domico, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and chair of Brody women faculty.

“This is where we need to start instilling a sense of support, confidence and a need to explore academic options,” she added. “The day was a success and we…were happy to be a part of it and lend to the growth and exploration of the biomedical sciences.”

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, demonstrates a tool for students.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras demonstrates a medical tool for students.

“My favorite thing that happened was when we got to pretend like we were doctors and got to solve a medical scenario,” said Kimya Boyd, a participant from Wellcome Middle School. “We got to see a simulation doll act like a real patient. It sweated and even trembled like a real person. This is definitely a field trip I would recommend to others.”

–Amy Ellis

College of Nursing honors 2016 Hall of Fame inductees

The East Carolina University College of Nursing inducted 11 members to its Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel Greenville on Friday, April 15. The event, which also recognized the college’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus, honored outstanding contributors to nursing in the areas of education, administration, research and practice.

2016 Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Sandra Smith, Sue Edwards, Wendy Leutgens, Jane Pearson, Donna Lake, Janice Neil, Annette Peery, Mary Chatman and Gina Woody, with Dean Sylvia Brown.

2016 Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Sandra Smith, Sue Edwards, Wendy Leutgens, Jane Pearson, Donna Lake, Janice Neil, Annette Peery, Mary Chatman and Gina Woody, with Dean Sylvia Brown. (Contributed photos)

This year’s class includes inductees from a range of impressive backgrounds, including two nurses who serve as leaders of major health systems; two who led accomplished, decades-long careers in the U.S. Military before pursuing inspired careers in health care and education; and several esteemed College of Nursing faculty members.

Not only does the Hall of Fame honor prominent nursing professionals, it has raised approximately $95,000 for a merit-based student scholarship fund since its inception in 2011. The 2015-2016 Hall of Fame Scholarship recipient, Tyler Knowles of Conover, North Carolina and a master’s student in the nurse anesthetist program, was recognized at the event. The college will award its sixth Hall of Fame Scholarship this fall.

“We created the Hall of Fame when we realized there were so many respected leaders who were graduates or supporters of our college and who have been leaders in our profession,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “It’s an opportunity to honor their contributions and also a way to give back to future generations of nurses through the scholarship program.”

Distinguished Alum Wendy Leutgens is pictured with Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. Wendy is president of Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL. (Contributed photo)

Distinguished Alum Wendy Leutgens is pictured with Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. Wendy is president of Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL. 

The 2016 inductees join a list of 79 Hall of Fame members representing nine states. Each new member receives a flame-shaped award that resembles the lamp illustrated on the college’s nursing pin. The lamp and its associated flame symbolize a commitment to service and a vibrant life. This year’s Hall of Fame class:

  • Mary Chatman, Savannah, Ga.
  • Sue Edwards, Ayden, N.C.
  • Ann King, Clayton, N.C.
  • Donna Lake, Goldsboro, N.C.
  • Wendy Leutgens, Oak Park, Ill.
  • Janice Neil, Winterville, N.C.
  • Jane Pearson, Forest, Va.
  • Annette Peery, Greenville, N.C.
  • Loretta Ritter, Milford, Pa.
  • Sandra Smith, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Gina Woody, Winterville, N.C.

On a night set aside for celebrating influential nurse leaders, the college also recognized the recipient of its 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award. This year’s awardee is Wendy Leutgens (MSN 87), who serves as the president of Loyola University Health System, an 801-bed academic medical center and health system in Maywood, Illinois.

Learn more about the College of Nursing’s Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumnus Award by visiting www.nursing.ecu.edu/hof.cfm.

–Elizabeth Willy

ECU named top school for military spouses

East Carolina University has been named one of the top 100 schools in the nation for military spouses.

ECU is the only university in North Carolina to receive Victory Media’s Military Spouse Friendly School designation.

MF16_SpouseSchool

As such, ECU demonstrates “best practices in the education of military spouses and military families,” according to Victory Media, which measured universities on 10 criteria from academic and military family support to offering programs leading to portable career opportunities.

Earning the designation brings great pride, said Rondall Rice, chair of ECU’s Academic Military Affairs Committee, which completed the surveys and compiled information for the designations.

“Having served 29 years in the Air Force, I know the importance of military spouses and families, and the hardships they endure to allow their loved one to serve the nation. Being Military Spouse Friendly recognizes that ECU values their sacrifice and has programs and policies in place to help them achieve their academic goals,” Rice said.

This is the fifth military friendly-related designation this academic year, Rice said, which is a testament to ECU’s campus-wide efforts to make it a welcoming and beneficial place for military students, veterans and their families.

“This specific student population is focused and hard-working, but often face difficulties and unique situations due to their service,” Rice said. “We are proud to work with them all to help them earn their degrees.”

In the fall, the Military Times ranked ECU 28th in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 – the highest ranked in North Carolina. ECU also was named a Military Friendly School, which recognizes the top 20 percent of trade schools, colleges and universities that are doing the most to embrace service members, veterans and their families. The other two designations given to ECU are the Military Times’ Best for Vets: Business Schools and Victory Media’s Top 50 Military Friendly Schools for jobs in the pharmaceutical and health care industry.

ECU offers participation in the Veterans Administration Yellow Ribbon Program, which extends GI Bill benefits to cover out-of-state tuition. ECU also has one of only 79 VA-funded Veterans Support on Campus representatives across the nation and the only one in North Carolina.

Other support groups on campus include the student-led Pirate Veterans and the ECU Student Veteran Services office which offers Green Zone training for faculty and staff to increase understanding of military and veteran students and issues they may face in college. ECU also has programs to award academic credit for military training using American Council on Education recommendations. And ECU’s Military Advisory Committee helps raise scholarship money for ROTC and military students and coordinates veterans recognition and military appreciation events.

Victory Media’s Military Friendly Guide is the premier resource used by military personnel and their families when choosing an institution of higher learning. The publication is distributed to all base education centers worldwide and offered to every military member at retirement or transition from service to civilian life. More information about the new designation can be found at https://militaryfriendly.com/militaryspouseschools/.

–Crystal Baity

ECU celebrates International Women’s Day

Voices were raised and myths began to shatter during International Women’s Day March 3 at East Carolina University.

About 100 people including faculty, staff and students attended ECU’s third annual observation of the day recognizing the achievements and challenges of women around the world, celebrated in various forms since the early 1900s.

“It was really well attended,” said ECU staff member and event organizer Rai D’Honore, a member of the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, which sponsored the event.

Intl Womens Day1.JPG

“The purpose was to examine some critical issues of gender relations and to inspire people both at ECU and in the community to work together to resolve such issues,” D’Honore said.

The theme of the day was “Sex, Violence, and Gender Roles.” National and local leaders including several officials from ECU and Pitt County led panel discussions on topics like the narrow portrayal of genders in the media, the perils of prosecuting sexual assault cases, transgender issues, and remedying intimate partner violence and the stigma surrounding it.

“There is a need to shatter the silence,” said keynote speaker Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, an associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and a nationally recognized expert on sexual trauma and healing.

“What does recovery look like? I looked around and I didn’t see any examples,” said Bryant-Davis, who is a survivor of sexual trauma herself. “If we speak, we tend to speak from a broken place. When we recover we often stop speaking out.”

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and national expert on recovery after sexual trauma, addressed approximately 100 people during her keynote address in Mendenhall Student Center as part of International Women’s Day at East Carolina University on March 3.

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and national expert on recovery after sexual trauma, addressed approximately 100 people during her keynote address in Mendenhall Student Center as part of International Women’s Day at East Carolina University on March 3.

Bryant-Davis led listeners in a chant of “silence no more, I was born to roar” and encouraged men in the audience to participate as well. She acknowledged that men can be both survivors and allies in efforts against gender violence.

“It is so important to have male allies and create space for everyone at the table,” Bryant-Davis said. “People think feminists hate men but that is not so. We must build up our entire community while addressing issues of gender.”

Essential to recovery after sexual assault is for victims to reclaim their sexuality, according to Bryant-Davis.

“Often people don’t talk about sex except for the ugliness of it,” she said. “Sexuality is a gift. It is part of who we are and should be celebrated.”

Sex is everywhere, but society says we can’t talk openly about it, ECU Victim Advocate Kat Bursky told listeners during her panel, “The Myth of the Slut.”

Women can often be the biggest perpetuators of this myth by shaming other women, Bursky said, which is makes it all the more important to criticize cultural norms and speak out in support of victims of sexual assault or shaming.

“I do not buy into the idea that women are competitive and do not get along,” Bryant-Davis said. “That is a myth we are taught. When we build each other up, there is no stopping us.”

International Women’s Day is sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women with support from the Office of the Provost, the Division of Student Affairs and ECU Women’s Studies. For more information on the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, visit http://www.ecu.edu/women.

–Jackie Drake

Medical school names first female surgery chair in the Southeast

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named a new chair for its Department of Surgery, making Brody the first medical school in the Southeast to have a female in that position.

Tuttle-Newhall

Tuttle-Newhall

Dr. J.E. “Betsy” Tuttle-Newhall is the seventh woman to be appointed surgery chair at any of the nation’s 200-plus medical schools, according to the Association of Women Surgeons.

Originally from Madison, Tuttle-Newhall has returned to North Carolina after serving as the division chief of abdominal transplant surgery and primary transplant surgeon at Cardinal Glennon Pediatric Hospital in St. Louis. She was also vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the St. Louis University Hospital School of Medicine and co-director of their Abdominal Transplant Center.

While in St. Louis, Tuttle-Newhall was the recipient of multiple clinical and teaching awards, as well as several Medals of Honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her efforts to improve and expand organ donation and transplantation processes.

Her research efforts have focused on living kidney donors, critical care of transplant recipients, and transplant center design and governance.

After earning a medical degree from Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1988, Tuttle-Newhall completed a surgery residency and a clinical fellowship in surgery at the New England Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. She furthered her training with a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an abdominal transplant surgery fellowship at Duke University Medical Center.

Following her fellowships, Tuttle-Newhall held several academic positions at Duke, including associate professor of surgery and critical care, and director of the medical school’s physician assistant residency in surgery.

She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health care administration at the St. Louis University School of Public Health.

ECU celebrates International Women’s Day

The 2015 celebration of International Women’s Day will be held Wednesday, March 4 in the Mendenhall Student Center, Great Rooms 1 & 2. The day features a series of speakers on the following topics:

8-8:50 a.m. International Perspectives on Women’s Status
A discussion between representatives from the University of Gdansk, Poland; Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Pakistan; and Covenant University, Nigeria.

9-9:50 a.m. Women in the Media
Beth Mendelson has more than 25 years experience in media and is currently executive producer at Voice of America. Her portfolio includes broadcast, radio and the web. Mendelson was Winner of the 2006 Women of Vision Award by Women in Film & Video.

10-10:50 a.m. Women in Religion
Ann Harrington was recently ordained as a priest by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a renewal movement within the Roman Catholic Church whose goal is to achieve full equality for all within the church as a matter of justice and faithfulness to the gospel.

11-11:50 a.m. Women in Social Justice
Shirrell Thomas has more than 40 years experience working on domestic violence. She leads the social enterprise section of the Center for Family Violence Prevention. Her initiative of My Sister’s Closet plays a major role in aiding victims of domestic violence in our community.

Noon-12:15 p.m. Is There Still Bias Against Women?
Brody School of Medicine professor Rachel Roper shares the latest studies on this subject.

12:15-12:30 p.m. ECU Chapter of She’s the First
ECU student and chapter president Keerthana Velappan shares information about this organization, which sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school.

12:30-2 p.m. Lunch and ECU Panel on Sexual Harassment
Speakers include ECU students, faculty and staff.

2-2:50 p.m. Women in Romance
Laurie Kahn is a resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center. Her film “Tupperware!” was broadcast in more than 20 countries, won the George Foster Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy. Kahn is executive producer of The Popular Romance Project, which explores the origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and Internet fan fiction.

3-3:50 p.m. Women in Health Care
Dr. Janice Daugherty, assistant professor of Family Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine. Her interests include women’s health through the lifespan, integrative mental health care, nutrition and wellness and chronic disease mitigation.

International Women’s Day is sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Student Affairs and ECU Women’s Studies.

Individuals requesting accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department for Disability Support Services at least 48 hours prior to the event at (252) 737-1016 (Voice/TTY).

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