Liberal Arts alumnae to return for women's leadership, networking events

September 17, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of the Liberal Arts will hold its fourth annual "Penn State Women: Leaders of Today and Tomorrow" panel and networking reception on Oct. 3 and one-on-one meetings with alumnae the following morning. Students of all majors are invited to attend.

Focused on the theme of empowering young women to aspire to leadership roles, the event gives current students a unique opportunity to network with successful Penn State alumnae and other student attendees.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the six alumnae will hold a panel presentation and question-and-answer session in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium. They will discuss their successes in their respective fields and the challenges they have faced along the way. The women come from a variety of fields and provide a broad perspective of leadership. Nancy Tuana, DuPont/class of 1949, professor of philosophy and women’s studies, and founding director of the Rock Ethics Institute, will moderate the discussion, which is free and open to the public.

Following the panel will be a networking reception in the Mann Assembly Room (103 Paterno Library) where students will get to mingle with alumnae while enjoying refreshments.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, students who signed up in advance will have the chance to meet individually with a specific alumna. These meetings will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in 322 HUB-Robeson Center. During these meetings, students will be able to share their career and leadership aspirations and get resume suggestions and interview tips.

The following Liberal Arts alumnae are scheduled to participate in the events.

Ana Ayala de Babosa, 2007, Japanese and international studies, is a foreign affairs officer at the U.S. Department of State. She supports U.S. foreign policy objectives with public diplomacy outreach tools in Latin America. She said, “The first step in determining your career is exploring the options that attract you the most. With such an incredible alumni database, students should take advantage and seek out alumni to help learn more about their profession. Armed with this knowledge, students can make better choices to build the skills and the experience they need to succeed in their job search.”

Sandy Hillman, 1963, arts and letters, is president of Sandy Hillman Communications. She is a hands-on manager of her own communications firm, where she is responsible for maintaining high-level client service and for motivating her team to perform at their best. When asked about the significance of the panel, Hillman stated that “there is no substitute for the voice of experience,” and cited the obligation of those who enjoy richly rewarding careers to pass on their knowledge and inspirations. She also noted a personal commitment to supporting women in the workplace, as a first-generation college student who wants to pass on the message of empowerment that she was raised with.

Stephanie Hofmann, 1991, speech communication, is director of agency development at Google. She leads partnerships across the Agency Business at Google including the WPP Agency Holding Company, YouTube Third Party Partnerships and the U.S. Multicultural team. She said, “I couldn't pass up the opportunity to reach back and help Penn State students both identify with their career aspirations, but also support (even in some small way) in helping achieve their career dreams. If one small story or personal anecdote can help accelerate a young student's career, (or even better), leapfrog from something I share — a learning, risk, or experience — I'm all in!”

Melissa Protzek, 1995, philosophy, is executive director and CEO of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Allegheny Councy, PA. She has more than 20 years of non-profit management experience working with social systems, the legal system and the community. Her children's advocacy organization has served 1,700 children with more than 800 volunteers during her tenure. She said, "In an environment where students have to always be 'on,' there is less and less opportunity to really talk about vulnerabilities and fears and to ask the genuine questions.  Having this type of forum will hopefully give students the freedom to ask about our errors, our mistakes, what we've learned along the way—and how were were able to still survive and achieve success."  

Marissa Reynolds, 2013, psychology, is project coordinator for the Children’s Eating Behavior Lab and Metabolic Kitchen in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State and project coordinator for the Child Attention and Behavior Lab in the Department of Psychology at Penn State. She’s responsible for the daily activities of running two federally funded research studies. The Paterno Fellows alumna said, “As a senior who wasn't sure which direction to take, I would have benefited greatly by attending this type of event. I was considering only options that fell strictly within my major and aligned with what my fellow graduates were doing. I'm sure there are many students in the same position. I hope that I can help bring a new perspective and expand their idea of what they would find rewarding as a career.”

Binney Wietlisbach,1985, psychology, is president of The Haverford Trust. She is responsible for the day-to-day management and strategic growth of a $7 billion-plus wealth advisory business. Wietlisbach has been actively involved in the planning of this event and will host it again this year. When asked why she agreed to play such an integral part in this event, Wietlisbach said she recognized the importance of giving students the opportunity to see successful women and be able to connect some core elements of the panelists’ journeys with their own.

Additional details, including alumnae bios and registration information, can be found at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 24, 2018