The newly-formed Women’s Advocacy Forum, at Ferris State University, has announced that Trinidy Williams, associate dean of Operations in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the inaugural recipient of the Helen Gillespie Ferris Distinguished Woman Leader Award.
Williams was selected from a field of nominees reviewed by the Forum’s Awards and Recognitions Committee. As the chair of that group, Leah Monger, the assistant dean of Collections and Access Services, said Williams has made significant contributions to the university and the greater community.
"Trinidy is a strong and committed leader, both at Ferris and within the Big Rapids community, as a member of the ArtWorks board of directors,” Monger said. “Additionally, she is a wonderful, caring role model and mentor to other women and girls. As the very first recipient of the Helen Gillespie Ferris Distinguished Woman Leader Award, which recognizes women’s leadership and accomplishments, Trinidy sets a very high standard for all future awardees."
Williams was nominated for the award by Susan Owens, an associate professor of Nursing.
“During my interview with the committee, I answered a series of questions regarding leadership experiences in my life, and was asked to detail the journey to achieve my current position,” Williams said. “One of the questions focused on a challenge I faced along the way, which involved a necessary change in my own views, in terms of believing that women could achieve their goals, solely through their individual effort. The Women’s Advocacy Forum is an indication of the type of opportunity and commitment to women’s issues that is appropriate across the university.”
Williams said an important catalyst in her professional and personal growth was attending a Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Summer Leadership Institute in the summer of 2014.
“Kemi (Olukemi) Fadayomi and I found out we were going to the HERS Institute, as we were going through our homework, as part of our preparation,” Williams said. “Based on our experiences there, Kemi said, ‘We are going to have to organize this with (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) Paul Blake, to see that the university continues to offer this opportunity.’”
The Academic Affairs division provides annual support to HERS Institute participation, with Lianne Briggs, a professor in the College of Business and Jennifer Johnson, a professor from the College of Arts and Sciences, set to participate in a session this summer in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Williams said she is humbled to be the inaugural recipient of the Helen Gillespie Ferris Woman Leader Award, which will be presented during the university’s spring employee recognition event. The winner is hereafter nominated by the university for the Michigan Distinguished Woman Leader in Higher Education Award, which is presented each year by the Michigan ACE Women’s Network.
“It’s an overwhelming honor,” Williams said. “As individuals, as a university and across this country, it is important that we remain active, to continue advocacy and to remain focused on various women’s issues, both for our daughters, and our sons, because they are our future.”
Staff Center for Training and Development Manager Jody Gardei said as the Women’s Advocacy Forum takes its place as an organization on the university campus, they welcome anyone to join their efforts.
“We consider ourselves to be a diverse group of people, dedicated to the advocacy of women,” Gardei said. “An elected board will be developed, with the goal of establishing a schedule of events that will support that purpose. It is important to understand that the Women’s Advocacy Forum is not limited to Ferris’ professional staff, or its faculty. We look to include everyone, as they all have something to offer.”
Gardei said word has spread across campus about the establishment of the Forum, and she has been approached by a number of individuals interested in joining, to assist in the development of programs.
“Our first official function will be a Mentoring Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday, March 8,” Gardei said. “We had an organizing session last December, where more than 30 people participated, saying they would be involved as mentors, or attending in an effort to find their mentor.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Trinidy Williams, associate dean of Operations in Ferris State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Helen Gillespie Ferris Woman Leader Award by the Women’s Advocacy Forum. Williams will be the university’s nominee for the Michigan Distinguished Woman Leader in Higher Education Award.