Meet Goali Saedi Bocci '10, Emily Wickham '85, and Tereza Wiest '10, the leadership team that’s reinvigorating NDWC Portland. They talk about building momentum, managing the unexpected challenges of event planning (parking anyone?), and celebrating face-to-face connections in an increasingly busy world. Responses are Goali's unless otherwise noted.
Why did you get involved with ND Women Connect?
My best friends to this day are the ones I met when I was a graduate student at Notre Dame. Though graduation feels like ages ago, we still keep up and support one another even though we all live across the country from one another. Given how incredibly meaningful and treasured these friendships have been, I wanted the opportunity to meet more like-minded women from across the Notre Dame generations and family.
(Tereza) And I'd also add that I reached out for folks to volunteer to help lead NDWC (and Goali and Emily stepped up) because I relocated to Portland from Detroit, which has one of the original NDWC chapters (started by the amazing Jeannine Sterling). The Detroit chapter is extremely active and the NDWC events in Detroit were always my favorites, so reinvigorating our NDWC group in Portland was definitely a priority when I became club president.
What are some of the best events you've planned with the Portland group?
Some of our best events have included a painting and mimosas event, summer breakfasts, and our book club meetings. This May, ten women gathered for an event at the Japanese Gardens, and at Christmas time Emily hosted a ceramics Christmas ornament making party in her basement pottery studio. It was really unique and a great success.
We definitely want to broaden our scope and hope for more opportunities to connect; our biggest goal has been having a variety of events and attracting women across the graduating years.
Have you faced any challenges? If so, how have you managed them?
As with any city that grows over time, planning in areas that are accessible, easy to get to, and have nearby parking cab be a challenge. With members all across the metro area it can be challenging to find venues that work for all, but we have been trying to mix up events the best we can to allow women to come together from across the area.
We're working to manage our challenges this year by making a big effort to have regular (bi-monthly) events. Whether the turnout is large or small, the regular events help keep NDWC on people's radar.
What is your favorite thing about your NDWC group?
In our ever-busy lives we are becoming more isolated every day (that's my psychologist self talking); there is something incredible about women coming together to connect face-to-face for conversations. Whether it is a shared read, or simply getting a cup of coffee, I love that we are making it more and more accessible for women to make new friends.
What advice would you give to those who are looking to start a local NDWC group?
Start small and get support! That's an incredible thing our President Tereza has helped us with; having a co-facilitator helps a ton when life gets busy and we have full plates I've had to take some time away from hosting and leading events this Spring and it's been amazing having Emily for support. The more women who are interested in helping and leading events, the better! Starting with a book club was a great small way to launch events given the amazing Shared Read community from ND. From there, it was nice to host similar types of events as well as more adventurous ones such as art parties and Japanese garden tours.
Many thanks to the ladies of NDWC Portland for sharing their advice and experiences for this piece. Let us know if you would like your group to be featured in an upcoming newsletter.
Want to find your nearest local group? Visit the Local Groups page on the NDWC website.