Gender Leadership Academy

Gender and Leadership Academy: Courage to Grow 

The Gender and Leadership Academy is designed to promote diversity and inclusion among rising student, staff and faculty leaders across campus, as well as university alumni; develop a pipeline of leaders; and to foster interprofessional collaboration among students, faculty and staff. Through unique programming ranging from keynote presentations and panel discussions to even restorative yoga, we aim to help students, faculty and staff identify and leverage their strengths and build courage to pursue leadership roles.

Supported by a CHHS Cultural Activities grant.

Watch the 2020 Programming

Gender and Leadership: Stereotypes and Communication

  • Program Information and Recording Links
    • Gender and Leadership in the Academy: An Interview with Dr. Marilyn Sheerer, Professor and Former Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
      Watch Recording
    • Panel Discussion: Stereotypes, Solutions and Support
      Watch Recording
    • Gender and Leadership in the Private Sector: An Interview with Wanda Coley, Vice President of Strategy and Execution, UnitedHealthcare
      Watch Recording
  • About Dr. Marilyn Sheerer

    Marilyn SheererDr. Sheerer has served 40 years in higher education as a faculty member, a department chair, dean and provost in four different universities. After serving as provost at East Carolina University, she accepted the position of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNCW in 2015. In May 2020, Dr. Sheerer returned to the Watson College of Education faculty and now teaches higher education leadership in the doctoral program.

    A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Sheerer received her bachelor’s degree in English education from Bloomsburg State College, her master’s degree in higher education administration from Syracuse University and her doctorate in education and eevelopmental psychology from Ohio University. She has worked in both public and private universities in four states.

    Dr. Sheerer’s research interests include change in higher education, strategies for preparing education professionals in the areas of diversity and inclusion and women in leadership in higher education. Throughout her academic life, she has enjoyed mentoring young female faculty and doctoral students in their dissertation process.

  • About Wanda Coley '96

    Wanda ColeyWanda Coley is Vice President of Strategy and Execution for North and South Carolina with UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and retirement business line. Hers is a new executive role to expand the health insurer’s presence in the Carolinas, including in Southeastern North Carolina.

    She is responsible for the management of clinical programs and business development opportunities impacting the Medicare Advantage population in North and South Carolina. UnitedHealthcare serves 528,000 Medicare and retirement members in North Carolina and 243,000 Medicare and retirement members in South Carolina.

    Coley served nearly nineteen years with Well Care, and in October 2017, took on the role of president and COO soon after CEO Wayne Long died. 

    Coley graduated from UNC Wilmington in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and earned her MBA from Webster University in 2000.


Redefining Your Role: Stepping Up and Finding Courage

  • Program Information and Recording Links
    • Keynote: Navigating Career Challenges and Stepping up to Opportunities with Donna Esteves, NA Regional Supply Chain Manager, Corning Incorporated
      Watch Recording
    • Panel Discussion: Taking Risks, Changing Roles and Getting Uncomfortable 
      Watch Recording 
    • Empowerment Yoga with Rachael McLoud, RYT200 and CHHS Student Success Advisor, UNCW
      Watch Recording
    • Stepping Up to Challenges with Dr. Dana Stachowiak, Director of Gender Studies and Research Center and Professor, UNCW
      Watch Recording
  • About Donna Esteves

    Donna EstevesA self-described "military brat" and native of Sumter, S.C., Esteves graduated from Clemson University in 1986 with a degree in ceramic engineering, and began working at Corning, Incorporated one week later. She immediately fell in love with the Cape Fear Region and vowed to never leave the area! With 34 years at Corning, Esteves has worked in engineering, production management and supply chain management positions, managing departments with up to 625 personnel. She completed a six-month overseas assignment as the Operations Readiness Manager for a new optical fiber plant in Pune, India. Esteves completed an online master’s degree program in supply chain management from Penn State University in 2016, and currently holds the position of North America regional supply chain manager for Corning’s Optical Fiber and Cable division.

    Esteves is a member of the WILMA Women to Watch Advisory Board and she is an active mentor with the WILMA Mentoring program. She is also a member of the Women’s Impact Network and the Board of Trustees for Lower Cape Fear Hospice.

  • About Dr. Dana Stachowiak

    Dana StachowiakDana Stachowiak is an associate professor of curriculum studies and the director of the Gender Studies and Research Center, at UNC Wilmington. The Gender Studies and Research Center provides students, faculty, staff, and those in the greater Wilmington community with opportunities to experience the diverse facets of women's lives, hopes and concerns from artistic, historical, and other perspectives.  

    Dr. Stachowiak oversees the women’s and gender studies minor and post-baccalaureate certificate program; has developed a research agenda and educational and cultural programming focused on women’s and gender issues; supports the research and teaching of affiliated faculty; and administers the center, among other responsibilities. Her work involves close interaction and collaboration with department chairs, faculty, students and community members.

    Prior to coming to UNCW in 2016, she was an assistant professor of diversity and multicultural education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She was a classroom teacher and district curriculum specialist in North Carolina before moving to higher education. 

    She holds a Ph.D. in educational studies with a concentration in cultural foundations, as well as a graduate certificate in women's and gender studies, from UNC Greensboro. She earned her M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University and a B.S. in elementary education from Western Michigan University. 


Building a Pipeline of Diverse Leaders in Higher Education

  • Program Information and Recording Links
  • About President Dr. Connie Book

    Chancellor Connie BookConnie Ledoux Book began service as Elon’s president on March 1, 2018, bringing more than 20 years of higher education leadership to the university. She was named Elon’s ninth president after serving as provost of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, and previously serving 16 years as an Elon faculty member and senior administrator.

    Dr. Book has a deep belief in the transformative opportunities of higher education and a primary commitment to student growth and development. She has been a leader in Elon’s development as a prominent national university. As faculty fellow for strategic planning, she coordinated creation of the university’s Elon Commitment strategic plan. As associate provost, she spearheaded establishment of the Student Professional Development Center, creation of the residential campus plan, development of the Study USA program and growth of civic engagement initiatives.

    In March 2015, Dr. Book was named the first female provost and dean in The Citadel’s 175-year history. Since rejoining Elon in 2018 as its first female president, Dr. Book has forged strong ties across the university. She launched the public phase of Elon LEADS, the most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign in the university’s history, and she led the creation of Boldly Elon: Our strategic plan for 2030. Dr. Book has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Northwestern State University (Louisiana) and a doctorate from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.


Inside the GLA Studio Interviews

Do you want to shorten your learning curve and be inspired and equipped by leaders who have chosen to lean in and lead though life’s challenges and victories?

In these free 40-minute interviews, host Molly Nece, UNCW's Director of Employee Leadership Learning and Engagement, engages inspiring leaders in a conversation surrounding the themes the Gender and Leadership Academy was founded upon. 

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