Happy 1st Birthday to the WISA Blogging Initiative!

Happy 1st Birthday, WISA Blogging Initiative!

What started as a dinner between friends on the 27th floor of the Wit Hotel in Chicago 14 months ago has become a catalyst for a new kind of on-line community for women in higher education.

Sometime between the Cabernet (Julie) and the fish tacos (Ann Marie) a two sentence conversation started our little labor of love:

“We should start a blog”

“We should totally start a blog!”

While WISA had a blog established, we knew it could be more powerful.  We knew women in higher education had much to share and learn from each other and we sought to create a place where they could share their experiences, challenges, fears and triumphs.  We knew we couldn’t do this alone, and decided to reach out to our WISA community and engage them in making this blog a true community endeavor.

In order to make the blog a space for our WISA community, we set one very specific goal – to post one new blog at the same time each Wednesday from a different contributor within the WISA community, and to do this for a full year.

We knew we were asking a lot of our bloggers. It required time at various points of the year when people were at their busiest.  It required vulnerability, a willingness to share failures publicly and the courage to claim and own their successes.  And it required commitment from our writers and from us as editors.

But the real testament of this blog would come from the readers, their actions and their feedback.  Would this be a valuable format?  Would people care?  Was this needed?

Our answer came quickly and definitively.  It is our readers who – every week – anticipate the blog and even plan on it, devour it, and ultimately share it with colleagues, friends and their respective networks.  They ask questions, start on- and off-line conversations with each other based on shared experiences outlined in the posts – commonalities they only discovered by reading about the personal truths shared by our brave contributors.

What we love best is about the WISA blog is that we don’t often know the age, title or experience level of the author. We don’t need to because it is not relevant. The story is what is important and the lessons resonate regardless of whether reader or writer is a grad student or a Vice President. It’s the words of the women that bring about this catalyst for conversation, connection, communication and change.

This is what we have learned in last 365 days:

  1. Giving someone the opportunity to share their experiences can be an incredibly empowering act: How many times have you read the WISA blog and felt yourself nodding because it resonated so strongly with your own experiences? Yeah, us too!
  2.  Nothing lifts people more than finding a community of support:  Kindness matters. A little generosity goes a long way.  The blog reaches out beyond boundaries and provides all of us with reassurance that we are not alone.
  3. Women’s contributions and voices can be largely overlooked: The WISA blog following has dramatically increased, as has its readership, thus providing a much-needed avenue for women’s voices and perspectives to be heard.
  4. This work must continue: Having a strong social media presence through our blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and resource websites provides women in higher education and student affairs an opportunity to connect with a community of women and male allies who support their work and goals.

To bring the WISA social media experience to new heights, we knew we needed to involve even more women in leading this initiative.  Our new social media leadership team is comprised of a dynamic group of women who are readers and contributors of the blog, users of and engagers on Twitter, and followers and contributors to Facebook, LinkedIn and the resource site. They support the goals of our on-line community and are shining examples of the power behind building relationships with other women.

To that end, we are pleased to announce the new WISA Social Media Team!

WISA Blog Editors:

Kristyn Tomlinson, Director of Alumnae Relations, Delta Gamma Executive Office
Amy Jorgensen, Marketing Coordinator, Department of Housing and Residence Education, University of Florida

WISA Twitter Account Managers:
Ciji Heiser, Coordinator for Assessment, UNC-Chapel Hill
Shanoya Connor, Area Coordinator, Davidson College

WISA Facebook Page Manager:
Melissa Robertson, Residential Life Manager, Purdue University

WISA LinkedIn Group Manager:
Niki Rudolph, Director of the Residential College for Arts and Humanities, Michigan State University

Resource Site Manager:
Dr. Shelly Morris Mumma, Director of Leadership and Student Engagement, St. Norbert College

We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve as your co-editors for the WISA blog for the past year, and look forward to leading the social media leadership team this year.  Happy Birthday, to the WISA blogging initiative and to the women and men who help make it a success.  Here’s to more great years to come!

Thank you for your participation, support and belief in the transformative power of this community!

Julie & Ann Marie

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