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Celebrating International Women’s Day Through MI-ACE

March 08, 2021

International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Schoolcraft College is fortunate to have many women in key leadership roles across campus. Two of these leaders are Dr. Michele Kelly, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Jodie Beckley, who recently was named Director of Continuing Education & Professional Development (CEPD).

In addition to those duties, each serves as Schoolcraft College’s Institutional Representatives on the Michigan American Council on Education Women’s Network (MI-ACE).

They graciously provided their insights on this important organization.

Q: How would you describe the MI-ACE Women's Network?

A: The MI-ACE website through Grand Valley State University is a great place to read accurate information about the network. However, in a nutshell, the MI-ACE Women's Network is the professional network for Michigan women in higher education. The Michigan affiliate has been active for over 40 years and works in concert with the American Council on Education Office of Inclusive Excellence Group to identify, develop, encourage, advance, link and support women in higher education. In Michigan, our network spans member colleges and universities where each President appoints Institutional Representatives (IRs).

Q: How long have you been an Institutional Representatives? What are your duties and responsibilities?

A: The Institutional Representative (IR) enlists the support of women at each institution by facilitating professional development programming, collaborating with campus activities, educating women about the Network's mission and major initiatives, and encouraging attendance at Network-sponsored events.

I (Dr. Kelly) have been associated with the MI-ACE Women's Network since 2012. I served as an IR at a different institution and benefitted greatly from the professional development, mentorship and friendship, and participation in formal leadership opportunities. I owe many of my career advancements to the power of this network. When I came to Schoolcraft in 2018, I learned that the College is a member of the network, but had not been active for some time. I set out to revitalize our participation in the network.

Dr Michele Kelly and Jodie BeckleyAround the same time, I met Jodie as she was working on her doctoral dissertation, focusing on women’s leadership roles in higher education. Immediately, I realized that she would be someone who would have much to offer this group and would benefit from it too. Jodie joined me as an IR last year and we thought it would be great to showcase Schoolcraft College by hosting and sponsoring the MI-ACE Annual IR Institute. 

When the Network made the decision to move the Institute to a virtual format split over two different dates, we quickly adapted. We were able to host, sponsor, help plan, and present at the event in October and February. We serve on the IR Committee and Jodie is engaged with the Women of Color Collaborative, which is a very active component within the network. 

You do not have to be an IR in order to get involved and benefit from the professional development opportunities available through this network. Women from all backgrounds and employee groups are welcome. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact me or Jodie Beckley.

Q: What initiatives or ideas for Schoolcraft College have come about from your association with MI-ACE?

A: Obviously, the pandemic has sidetracked our plans to host recruitment/information sessions and arrange face-to-face professional development events on campus. However, the timing of Schoolcraft's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the DEI Task Force is fortuitous. Because the network has a legacy of promoting gender equity within institutions like Schoolcraft College, our partnership has potential to be a powerful collaboration.

For example, at the state level, the MI-ACE Women's Network raises awareness for Equal Pay Day and encourages IRs to bring this concept into the consciousness of their campuses. To raise awareness about the gender pay gap, Equal Pay Day (this year it is March 24) signifies how far into the new year a woman must work to earn what men were paid the previous year. In addition to March 24 this year, there are other Equal Pay Days to denote that mothers and many women of color face a wider-than-average gap and must work even longer into the year to equal the earnings of men.

Many organizations wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how far women and people of color are “in the red” with their pay.

The MI-ACE Women’s Network provides opportunities for professional development throughout the year. For example, on March 5, the Network sponsored a workshop from the MSU LBGT Resource Center, which introduced pronouns beyond the binary. Presenters from the University of Michigan-Flint shared tested strategies that foster inclusivity and enhance growth and leadership skills.

Finally, the MI-ACE Women’s Network holds an annual two-day conference in June each year. Women in higher education institutions throughout Michigan come together for networking, mentorship, and professional development. The conference will be a free virtual event this year, taking place on June 14 and 15. Registration is located at the MI-ACE website.

International Women’s Day facts

  • The first International Women’s Day was in 1911.
  • Internationally, purple is used to symbolize women.
  • This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, selected because a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.

MI-ACE facts

  • Formed in 1978, it is the voice of women in higher education in Michigan.
  • A 16-member Executive Board, led by the State Chair conducts the network’s activities along with Institutional Representatives.
  • MI-ACE is an award-winning network. The network was nationally recognized in 2005 by the ACE Office of Women in Higher Education and again in 2016 when it received the National ACE State Network Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women in Higher Education.