Medical Center Hosts Networking Session for Women’s History Month

Female staffers gather at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center networking session on March 21, 2019.
Staffers of Columbia University Irving Medical Center gather at Columbia University School of Nursing for a networking session on March 21, 2019. (Image credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

About 50 female staffers from across Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) attended a women’s networking session last week. Despite the rain and gloom of the March 21 evening, the mood was bright as attendees mingled, enjoyed refreshments, and shared tips about wellness, self-care, and work/life management. 

The session was organized by CUIMC’s Offices of Human Resources and Facilities Management & Campus Services and held at the Columbia University School of Nursing. Organizers said this event was the first of its kind on campus—but they hope it won’t be the last.

“We would like women’s networking sessions to be a staple event, maybe even quarterly,” Yvonne Wojcicki, executive director of campus life safety and regulatory compliance in the Office of Facilities Management & Campus Services and event co-organizer, told CUIMC Today. 

The event featured three speakers. The first, Jeimy Batista, administrative manager for Columbia’s Ombuds Office, told the audience about how she worked hard as an immigrant to achieve the American dream. She encouraged women to nurture their emotional well-being while managing their busy work and personal lives.

Amy Rabinowitz, associate provost and director of the Office of Work/Life, spoke of her office’s mission to enhance the experience of Columbia University as a family-supportive institution, promote awareness and utilization of Columbia University's existing work/life initiatives, and improve work/life policies, benefits, services, programs, practices, and culture throughout the University. 

Rabinowitz explained the evolution of the concept of work/life, talked about the importance of wellness, and explained the many resources that her office makes available to faculty and staff, including parenting, wellness, housing, and adult and elder care programs or workshops. See the office’s full slate of Spring 2019 events.

The third speaker, Clara Lapiner, director of faculty professional development, diversity, and inclusion and manager of the Office of Academic Affairs in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Faculty Affairs & Career Development, talked to the gathering about how each person defines success. She also shared information about the many programs offered by her office to support and guide CUIMC faculty to help them achieve productive and satisfying careers as researchers, teachers, clinicians, and academic administrators. 

Organizers say they chose to hold the inaugural networking event during March, which is Women’s History Month, to underscore the importance of supporting women in the workplace and beyond.

Sony Jean-Michel Thornton, a human resources client manager who co-organized the event, was glad that it went well. The CUIMC community has been asking for ways in which they can engage more with colleagues, she said. “We want people to know that we’re listening.”

Caroline Nien is new to the CUIMC family. With only three weeks in her position as assistant director of budget and financial analysis, she came to the session because she was eager to connect with new colleagues from across the medical center.

Michele Nunez, director of HR and academic affairs in the Department of Emergency Medicine, called the session “a great opportunity for networking with people outside of your department.”

The organizers are open to other networking ideas. Anyone who would like to share feedback may write to sj2001@cumc.columbia.edu or yw2366@cumc.columbia.edu.