The 2023–24 Women Staff Leadership Development Institute (WSLDI), a longstanding professional development program offered by the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, is underway. First launched in 2007, the yearlong 80-hour cohort-based program offers women staff the opportunity to enhance their leadership and career development skills through education, coaching and professional networking. Over the course of the program, participants will attend 10 workshops, complete a 360 evaluation, craft a career development plan and complete a learning style assessment in addition to earning a Weatherhead Executive Education leadership certificate.
Through these experiences, the program aims to help women staff develop a deeper awareness of self and others, gain a greater understanding of higher education from an institutional perspective, and foster an ethic of service by becoming a change agent. This year, the cohort includes six women from various departments across the university. Get to know them below.
Assistant dean of students and case manager
As assistant dean of students, Allison Gillis serves in an advocacy and support role for all students, particularly undergraduate students. She also is the chair of the Basic Needs Task Force, which focuses on access to nutritious food, secure housing and financial security, and co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Affairs Committee. She proudly is a licensed social worker, with a Master of Social Work degree from California University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Slippery Rock University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time in her backyard, hanging with her pup and visiting local coffee shops in Akron.
Associate director of international programs, Siegal Lifelong Learning Program
In her role with the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, Jacqueline Pereira oversees graduate hybrid programs in collaboration with the Case School of Engineering. She has more than seven years of experience in higher education, primarily focusing on the international student experience. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics. Originally from India, she spent nearly two decades of her life in the vibrant city of Dubai before moving to the U.S. a few years ago. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking and going on long walks with her dog. An avid traveler at heart, she seizes opportunities to explore new destinations, enriching her perspective on the world.
Research associate and evaluation manager, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
Julie Rentsch has more than 20 years of experience working on research and evaluation projects geared toward improving programs for children, youth, individuals with serious mental illness and/or neurological disorders, and aging populations. As a research associate with the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Rentsch is the evaluation manager for OhioRISE (Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence), a specialized managed care program for youth with complex behavioral health and multisystem needs to keep children and youth close to their homes and families.
Charise McLemore is the bursar in the Student Financial Services Office. She has been at the university for 29 years. McLemore received her bachelor’s degree at Cleveland State University and MBA from Case Western Reserve University with a concentration in finance. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and bowling.
Training and development manager
Danielle Workman has been with the university for just over a year as a training and development manager in Human Resources. She focuses on supporting staff and faculty in developing new skills and furthering their professional goals. Workman has been in higher education for six years at a variety of institutions in Northeast Ohio and Kansas. She received her master’s degree in higher education from Kent State University in 2020.
Associate director of programs, Mather Center
In her role with the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, Howard leads a variety of programs addressing faculty, staff and students, varying from leadership training, professional development programs, and social/large scale events. These range from the popular Women Staff Leadership Development Institute to the biannual Women of Achievement Awards, and everything in between. She is particularly fond of social programming for the center, as she believes it is the best way to engage with the CWRU community at large. Howard has 10 years of education experience, largely in the K-12 world before transitioning to CWRU in 2020.