Leading By Example

By Laura Ilioaei ’23, April 13, 2022

Ithaca College names 2022 Women of Distinction.

On March 31, Ithaca College hosted its 2022 Women of Distinction Awards in Klingenstein Lounge. The awards honor women at IC who demonstrate exceptional leadership and inspire and mentor other women, uplifting and motivating them to become better versions of themselves. This year’s winners were President La Jerne Terry Cornish, associate professor of theatre arts Chrystyna Dail, executive director of Hillel and interim director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Lauren Goldberg, and Communications librarian Cathy Michael.

At the ceremony, each of the winners shared anecdotes and words of advice.

President La Jerne Terry Cornish

“I am here today because of women who believed in me,” Cornish said.

She then highlighted the women who were integral to her leadership journey. It began with her high school history teacher, who persuaded her to attend Goucher College. After returning to Goucher to take part in an event, Cornish met then-university president Judy Jolley Mohraz. Later, when the two were working together at Goucher, Moraz called Cornish into her office and told her that she could also one day be the president of a college or university.

Cornish added that, as she’s progressed in her career and achieved a presidency of her own, she’s aimed to continue the actions of her mentors.

“What I’ve tried to do throughout my whole career is to see something in others, because someone saw something in me. It’s in my duty to do for others, as others have done for me,” she said.

Chrystyna Dail, associate professor of theatre arts

Dail, focused on her unique leadership style.

“This is about being a playful leader,” she said, emphasizing that “play is not simply an enjoyable activity. It is the foundation for all human learning.”

Using the word, Dail then listed out how playfulness can result in an effective leadership style.

P- Put intention in your work.

L- Learn both to laugh at your mistakes and learn something new every day. This means you should fail every day, which means you should naturally be laughing at yourself every day.

A- Amplify the voices of others, especially other women. Rarely do people find success on their own.
Y- Yes and no. Even opportunity allows yourself to put intention into practice. Feel free to say yes, but also to say no.

F- Friendship. Find one person who can receive and celebrate your joy, and celebrate theirs with you.

U- Unwind. Treat yourself as you should treat Mother Earth. Be gentle with her resources. Let her rest. Don’t throw garbage at her: physical, psychological, or emotional. Let her heal when she has faced trauma. And recognize that while life is cyclical, there is also always constant movement and change.

L- Listen for understanding and the other person’s truth.

Lauren Goldberg, executive director of Hillel and interim director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

Goldberg, who in 2021 was recognized by Hillel International as a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence, stressed the importance of recognition of one’s work, by both the individual and others.

“When I was thinking about what to talk about tonight, I kept returning to one word, and that was ‘recognition.’ I think it’s very difficult sometimes, particularly as a woman, to be recognized,” she said. “When you are able to recognize in yourself the qualities that someone else sees in you, it is a tremendous gift. And sometimes you need to see a mirror held back up to you, so that you can even see them.”

Growing up, Goldberg looked up to Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, who inspired Goldberg to be a better version of herself both personally and professionally. Leshaw had qualities that Goldberg herself had wanted to emulate, which was invaluable.

“Find yourself a teacher, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge each person according to their own merits,” Goldberg said, reciting a passage from the Pirkei Avot, a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period. It translates to “Ethics of Our Fathers.”

Communications librarian Cathy Michael

When Michael spoke, she listed women in her life who she was thankful for, ranging from friends and family to fellow Ithaca College staff members, and spoke about the importance of developing and maintaining connections.

“I love the idea that it takes a village, and we should cheer each other on,” Michael said. “That we should remind each other to persist, and to try, and be inclusive. That when we’re in the workforce, on a team, we should try and focus on who we haven’t heard from. Ask them what they’re thinking. Make sure everyone is included.”

In collaboration, conflict is only a consequence of differing values and is not meant to be seen as a bad thing, said Michael.

“It’s important to be challenged, and provoked,” she added. “Exchange your opinions and values, but always be respectful and civil. Keep your mind and heart open, be creative, and share ideas.”

“I loved all of[ the] speeches. I thought they were incredibly encouraging and really highlighted what it means to be a leader, and how we could be better leaders at IC.”

Megan Parker ’23

Director of the Office of Student Engagement Michelle Lenhart, who organized the event, hoped that students would be inspired from the wisdom the women shared.

“We’re really excited that we’re able to recognize these women and that they’re able to give words of advice,” she said. “We’re hoping that people can learn some lessons from the women who are recognized.

Megan Parker ’23 felt inspired by each of the testimonials, saying they showed her how she could be impactful within her community.

“I loved all of their speeches,” she said. “I thought they were incredibly encouraging and really highlighted what it means to be a leader, and how we could be better leaders at IC.”