Daycare teacher, telemarketer, vacuum salesperson, property manager…women’s studies scholar? It may seem an unlikely résumé, but for Shannon Lundeen, a series of odd jobs led her to find her calling as the director of Case Western Reserve University’s Flora Stone Mather Center for Women.
After graduating from Colgate University in 1999 with degrees in philosophy and women’s studies, Lundeen knew she wanted to earn her PhD eventually, but she wanted a break first. After moving to Madison, Wis., she worked in a daycare during the day, followed by telemarketing at night. A move to Colorado led Lundeen to take up door-to-door vacuum sales, property management at the University of Colorado and also a job as a nanny. After a stint in the mountains, Lundeen moved back to Wisconsin, where she taught at a newly formed public school.
“This was the job that was most surprising,” Lundeen said. “I would get up every day at 4 a.m. and work until 10 p.m. I didn’t care because I loved teaching. I realized that this was my passion.”
This realization propelled Lundeen to begin graduate school, receiving full funding from Stony Brook University. She earned a master’s degree and PhD in philosophy and an advanced graduate certificate in women’s studies before becoming the associate director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women at the University of Pennsylvania, where she stayed for eight years.
Last year, Lundeen decided it was time to explore leadership opportunities in her field, and it was Case Western Reserve University’s Flora Stone Mather Center for Women that caught her eye.
“This center is unique,” she said. “It provides a level of service that serves the full person and can do proactive work for the whole university—not just women. In this women’s center, the university has institutionalized financial and staffing support to serve faculty, staff, graduate and professional students, undergraduates and alumni.”
She began as the new director of the center in July and has been working tirelessly to create a vision for the center’s next 10 years by identifying strengths and weaknesses and trying to fill the gaps.
“We are working to see who we are not serving and figure out a way, with the resources we have, to begin engaging them in the center and in efforts to advance gender equity,” she said.
To accomplish this, Lundeen connects with an array of people and groups on and off campus, including former (and first) director of the center Dorothy Miller, Deputy Provost Lynn Singer, the Staff Advisory Council, Graduate Studies, Student Affairs, the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the center’s Community Advisory Board members, deans, professors, staff, students and alumni.
She plans to create new advisory boards for faculty and for students open to both men and women, have the Center represented on a Staff Advisory Council subcommittee, and launch new programming such as the new Moms Offering Moms Support (MOMS) group.
For the foreseeable future, Lundeen—who also is an assistant professor of bioethics, adjunct associate professor of philosophy, a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Women and Gender Studies Program, and a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies—will focus on her duties as director.
“I have two sons, Paxton, who is 6, and Harley, who is 3, and my husband, Macavan Baird, is lifting the load in childcare so that I can really throw myself into my role as director,” Lundeen said.
Read more about Lundeen in this week’s five questions.
1. Facebook or Twitter? I prefer Facebook—partly because I’m not very good at using Twitter.
2. What is your favorite building on campus and why? My favorite building on campus is Thwing Center because it’s where I work and it seems to be the center of student activities. It enables me to feel like I have a finger on the pulse of student life by working here.
3. What is your favorite vacation spot? It used to always be Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera. I lived there for a month doing a Spanish immersion program during graduate school. I’ve been there six or seven times, though, so I’m looking for a new favorite spot.
4. What is one of your hidden talents? Singing. I was the leader of an all-female a cappella group and also sang in a few bands in college. I like to sing karaoke when I get the chance. Singing makes me very happy.
5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve? It has to be the people. I grew up in the Midwest then spent time on the east coast. Moving back to the Midwest made me realize what I was deprived of… nice people. There is a spirit of generosity here from employees, faculty, community members and students. That’s been my favorite thing so far.