by Melinda Bowker ‘92

Greetings from Fort Lauderdale, Florida! As we enter the second  half of a tumultuous 2020, I am grateful for the opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude to the ND Women Connect Board that I have had the privilege of leading as Chair for the past 3 years.  

I am excited to welcome Karen (Klocke) Dehais ’85 as Chair of the ND Women Connect Board!  Karen served as the Board’s Service and Spirituality chair for the past 3 years as well as Regional Director for local ND Women Connect groups in the Central Region  Now residing in Kansas City, Kansas, Karen is the former president of the Northeastern NY ND Club, and her  long history of involvement with the University now includes her role as “ND parent” to Darcy ’19 and Caitlin ’23. 

Change is wonderful but can also be bittersweet. We say goodbye to several devoted and long-serving alumnae from the Board: Molly Burke ’15, Brenda Dwyer ’98, Sarah Sobczak Hutchinson ’06, and Chelsea Mason ’06.  We also acknowledge Mandie Landry ’00 who resigned from her Board role earlier this year due to increased work commitments after her election to public office. 

Erin Schneeman ‘80 will replace Board Chair Karen (Klocke) Dehais ‘85 in her former role as Regional Director for the Central Region. A Pre-Professional Studies major at Notre Dame, Erin became involved in the ND Club of Minnesota when it formed, but was not able to devote her full attention to its activities as she raised eight children, five of which graduated or are enrolled at Notre Dame! Now, Erin is excited to expand her role with the Alumni Association through NDWC and looks forward to utilizing her varied non-profit volunteer and board experience to further the mission of NDWC, particularly the camaraderie and support we engender for recent graduates. 

Molly Burke ‘15 (Chicago) has served as our Student Outreach Chair as well as the Regional Director for Illinois. She was instrumental in elevating our annual on-campus event for graduating seniors, “Cheering Her Name,” and our signature “Campus 2 Career” event held each fall on campus. 

Molly will be replaced in her role as Regional Director for Illinois by Sheila Delaney ’99, MBA ’09 who resides in Chicago. A long-time advocate of ND Women Connect’s mission, Sheila participated as a panelist for our inaugural Campus 2 Career event, representing the School of Architecture. She currently works for JP Morgan Chase in Chicago with their Tax Oriented Investment Group after working as an architect for years in Vero Beach, FL, NYC, and Chicago. Sheila credits the involvement with various Notre Dame clubs and alums during the course of her career and her moves with helping her find support, friendship, and faith enrichment.  

Brenda Dwyer ’98 (Pittsburgh) has served as co-chair on our Professional Development and Networking Committee while  serving as the Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Among other duties, Brenda was involved in the successful execution of our fall 2017 and 2018 “Campus 2 Career” events. 

Brenda will be replaced in her role as Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic by Maura Boston ’17. A Pittsburgh native currently living in Arlington, VA, Maura majored in Accountancy and Political Science at Notre Dame. Maura works for Deloitte & Touche, and was involved, through the DC Club, in the CEO lecture series and ND Impact Partners Initiative through Mendoza College of Business. She is still involved with her home club (ND Club of Pittsburgh), serving as its social media coordinator. For her dedication and effectiveness, Maura was chosen to present at the most recent Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting.  

Sarah Sobczak Hutchinson ’06 (Chicago) has been a significant contributor to the ND Women Connect Board for many years and has been a Board Officer for Marketing and Communications since 2017.  Sarah has served as the editor of our quarterly newsletter, which is sent to over 35,000 alumnae, and has spearheaded several recurring columns, most recently Campus Conversations, and In Her Own Words. 

Sarah will be replaced with our incoming Marketing and Communications Officer and Newsletter Editor, Regina Gesicki ’08, '11.  Regina spent 14 years at Notre Dame, first as an English major (BA, MA), then as an AmeriCorps member at the Robinson Community Learning Center, finally joining the Division of Student Affairs in 2013. After holding various roles in the Gender Relations Center and Residential Life, in 2018 she and her husband (‘16 PhD) moved to New York's Finger Lakes. Currently working in the Office of Title IX Programs & Compliance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Regina is excited to serve the University as a member of the NDWC Board. 

Chelsea Mason ’06 (Los Angeles) has been an exceptional and vital leader on our Board for many years.  Chelsea has served as the Board Officer for Marketing and Communications (Social Media) with her focus being on our extensive social media platforms, our website’s integration to a new software, and a host of other responsibilities including editing videography content, designing publicity for events and campaigns, crafting Board messaging  on important topics, and showcasing ND Women Connect’s communications skills by teaching courses at the annual spring Leadership Conferences on campus. 

Chelsea will be replaced by Ellen Ellick ‘12, our new Marketing and Communications Officer and Head of Social Media. Ellen is an active member of her local Los Angeles Club and is part of their communications team that facilitates weekly local club emails.  Ellen double-majored at Notre Dame in Psychology and Film, Television, and Theatre, and earned a Master’s in Public Relations from the University of Florida (2015).  Ellen currently works for Edelman Financial Services in Los Angeles with the Earned and Social teams for fortune 500 companies and startups. 

It has been a true pleasure to be a part of the evolution of ND Women Connect since I first became involved with its Steering Committee in 2013.  Since then, ND Women Connect leadership has grown from a well-respected 10 member Steering Committee to an official 16 member Board that is now a recognized Affinity Group of the Notre Dame Alumni Association (NDAA) with an official seat on the NDAA Board as of July 1, 2018.  I am particularly proud of our advocacy for this seat at the table.  

Our Board has continued the tradition fostered by our founding members of innovative programming, local alumnae engagement, and student outreach. We are now  in contact with over 100 local ND Women Connect groups across the country. During the past 7 years I have had the opportunity to work with countless gifted alumnae and the friendships that have developed are invaluable to me.  I hope to stay in touch with you all and am (optimistically) looking forward to reuniting with past, current, and future ND Women Connect Board members as well as our incredible alumnae base at our celebration of 50 years of coeducation at Reunion 2022.  

Until then, please keep in touch, stay safe and well, and support each other in Our Lady’s name.


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