Cal U's Female Leaders Discuss Journeys

Mar 08, 2019

A panel discussion and dinner on March 7 were part of the University's recognition of Women's History Month.

history month panel

Dr. Kristen Majocha (left), Dr. Nancy Pinardi, President Geraldine Jones, Christine Kindl and Dr. Brenda Fredette.


Respect others.

Have confidence.

Seize the opportunities.

Empower each other.

At two events on March 7, Cal U celebrated the success of women and the opportunities women have to affirm and encourage others.

Five female leaders at shared lessons learned along their personal and professional journeys as part of a Women’s History Month panel sponsored by the Student Affairs Diversity Committee.

Panelists were President Geraldine M. Jones; Dr. Nancy Pinardi, vice president for Student Affairs; Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing; Dr. Brenda Fredette, dean of Eberly College of Science and Technology; and Dr. Kristen Majocha, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.   

President Jones — a first-generation college student, a Cal U alumna, and the University’s first female and African-American president — explained there were fewer than two handfuls of female faculty and even fewer African-American faculty when she started working at the University. 

Her path to the presidency included positions where she supervised faculty who taught her. 

“Treat people with respect, the way you want to be treated, and don’t let anyone define you,” she said. “Don’t ever say ‘can’t,’ and it’s OK to fail.” 

President Jones, who has been married to Jeff Jones for almost 45 years, said, “You must have balance, with everyone in your family working as a team, and your relationships will become even stronger.” 

Kindl came to Cal U in 2008 after being a teacher and then a journalist for 20 years. She became a vice president last summer. 

As a female reporter, Kindl was assigned to features and lifestyle stories but rose to become an associate editor.  

“If I didn’t make the decision to step up, I was not going to advance, so I made the decision right away to take on opportunities and challenges to move out of the little box I was put in. 

“When you graduate, you probably have a vision of who you want to be, and if you don’t follow that straight path you might feel you’ve failed. But that’s not the case.” 

Fredette came to Cal U in 2018 from Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y., where she was the assistant vice president for Student Success and a professor in Medaille’s Division of Veterinary and Natural Sciences. 

As a young female teacher in a male-dominated STEM field, she was told by a Ph.D. adviser that she could not have both a family and a career. 

“I got a new adviser,” Fredette said. “You don’t have to make a choice between a family and a career, and I knew I was good at what I did. 

Pinardi earned three degrees from Cal U and a doctoral degree while working in Student Affairs. She has led that division since 2012. 

“Never underestimate your own abilities. You are as good as anyone,” she advised the young females in attendance. 

Pinardi also encouraged women to pay it forward. 

“As women, we must help other women get to the table and support them to get where we are now.” 

Majocha came to Cal U in 2018 from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where she was the assistant to the vice president of Academic Affairs and an associate professor in the Communications Department. 

A U.S. Navy veteran and single parent, she recalled a lasting impression early in her teaching career, when a disheveled but creative student described himself as organized in front of her class. 

“Right then I learned the most important thing is to be yourself,” she said. “I realized the student could not hide from who he was and neither could I. You have to be yourself.” 

She also emphasized resilience, describing how she turned several professional rejections into positive experiences. 

“I faced my fear by feeling it, learning from it and moved forward,” Majocha said. “I don’t believe in barriers.” 

Women’s History Month Dinner 

The celebration continued March 7 with the 10th annual Women’s History Month dinner. The event recognizes the efforts of organizations including the President’s Commission for the Status of Women; the PASSHE Women’s Consortium; the Cal U Women’s Center and its I Am That Girl program; the women’s studies minor; “The Vagina Monologues” cast; Cal U Women United; and the Serene Institute, which supports  the Audrey Beth Fitch Women’s Leadership retreat. 

Keynote speaker Dr. Azadeh Block, of the Social Work Department, spoke to the group about microaggressions – brief, everyday interactions based on a person’s appearance or other external characteristics. Too often, women and people of color are subject to these instances of subtle discrimination. 

“Rising up will only happen if we are all in this together,” Block told the audience. “Strength lies in our collective experience of seeing things as they are.”