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Board of Directors

Board Members

Valerie Fleming Lewis HCW AA'62, HON'08
Interim WELFund Chair, retired after serving more than eight years as the Commissioner of Higher Education for the State of Connecticut. She worked in many different areas of the Department of Higher Education, including both Assistant and Deputy Commissioner. In October 2003, she was elected the national President of the State Higher Education Chief Executive Officers organization, which provides the 50 states with opportunities to share data, undertake multi-state initiatives, and work collaboratively to address the nation's most difficult higher education issues. As Connecticut's commissioner, her responsibilities included: developing and implementing collegiate policies of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, providing oversight to multiple areas of state investment such as financial aid, research, teacher education, international educational partnerships, and workforce development. In her work as commissioner, she was especially concerned with aligning all levels of education from preschool forward so students were prepared to move through the various levels of education and into the workforce. She has a special interest in adults returning to complete their education.

An alumna of Hartford College for Women, Ms. Lewis completed her bachelor's degree in English at Mount Holyoke College and then taught English and coordinated the General Equivalency Degree Preparation (GED) Program in East Hartford and New Jersey. While studying for her P.H.D. in Education at the University of Connecticut, she worked as a special assistant in the offices of both the provost and the president. She was Director of Admissions and a member of the faculty at Hartford College for Women and also served in a variety of administrative positions in both public and private colleges. At retirement, she was awarded two honorary doctorates for her work to improve educational opportunity for Connecticut citizens.

Arnold West
WELFund Vice Chair, is currently the Director of Institutional Sales for GIA Partners, LLC. He previously was the senior vice president at ING Investment Management, where he is responsible for new business development. He began his career in 1990 at Aetna, where he served as an attorney supporting various Aetna Financial Service businesses and also served as counsel to Aetna Foundation, Inc. He received a B.A. in organizational behavior and management from Brown University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia, and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Arnold was a participant in Leadership Greater Hartford and has been involved in organizations focusing on education and mentoring. He also served as a trustee on the City of Hartford Municipal Employees' Retirement Fund. Arnold and his wife, Nadine Francis West, live in Hartford.

Dr. Elizabeth Ivey
WELFund Treasurer, is a physicist who was a faculty member for 34 years, followed by serving as the provost at two institutions of higher education, including the University of Hartford. Her research expertise is in the area of indoor and outdoor noise and vibration reduction. Gender equity for women students and women faculty has been the focus of her service efforts for over 35 years. She serves on several college Boards of Trustees, has testified before Congress on gender equity in the sciences and engineering, developed the first engineering program solely for women (at Smith College) and recently completed a two-year term as the president of the National Association for Women in Science (AWIS). She remains on the AWIS board as chair of their Endowment Committee and co-chair of their Grants Committee.

Nancy Gately Dean retired in 2005 from the Trust Company of Connecticut in which she co-founded and served as president, CEO and director. Prior to her work with the Trust Company, Nancy was the Senior Vice President of New Alliance Bank as well as Vice President for Finance for the Bank of New England/Connecticut Bank & Trust, and the Vice President for Strategic Planning for Bankers Trust Company in New York. In the community, Nancy served as former President and Vice President of the Town and County Club of Hartford. She was also the founding member and former treasurer of it's Lyman Heritage Preservation Foundation. Nancy also serves as a Commissioner of the Town of West Hartford Pension Board and a Board Member of the Duncaster Foundation, Inc., and a Trustee of the Reynolds Charitable Foundation, Inc. She earned a B.S. in accounting from Boston College.

During her years of service as President of the Town and County Club in Hartford, Nancy was instrumental in cultivating a stronger relationship between the organization and WELFund, a relationship that began years earlier when a group of Hartford College for Women alumnae founded the Club.

Gemma Fontanella Ebstein HCW AA'81 is the Associate Vice President of External Relations for Alumni and Parent Relations as well as the Career Center at Wesleyan University.  Prior to joining Wesleyan, Gemma held leadership positions at the Hartford Stage Company, YWCA, Manchester Memorial Hospital, and served as the Director for Alumni and Admissions at her alma mater, Hartford College for Women (HCW).  Gemma’s expertise is in developing new programs, and organizing communication and volunteer initiatives that deepen alumni and parent engagement. She also establishes and sustains relationships with undergraduate students through the Wesleyan Career Center, and assists them in translating their education into a lifetime of meaningful work. Gemma earned a B.A. from Williams College and an A.A. degree from Hartford College for Women. She serves on the Governance and the Advancement Committees for WELFund. 

Deb Javit HCW AA'83 is currently the owner and manager of DDS Development, LLC, a real estate development firm she founded in 2007. Prior to opening the business Deb worked for the real estate development firm of Bronson and Hutensky as well as her father's firm, Max Javit Real Estate Development, LLC. Additionally, Deb now manages her family's investments. In addition to her involvement with WELFund, Deb serves as a Board member of the South Park Inn, and a Board Corporator on the Advisory Council of the Aging Care Academy of Hebrew Health Care, Inc. Recently she assisted WELFund with the selection process for the WELCorps Leaders Program and the Dorothy Goodwin Scholars Program.  Deb earned an AA from Hartford College for Women and a Bachelors degree from Simmons College.

Bobbi McNeil '94 was the Director of Radiology at Hartford Hospital where she held several positions before retiring after 16 years. Her prior positions were that of an Interventional Technologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. She is an alumna of the College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions (ENHP) at the University of Hartford, Class of 1994 and the Hartford Hospital School of Radiography, Class of 1966.  She is on the Board of Regents at the University and serves on the following committees: Executive, Governance, University Education, the Board of Visitors of ENHP, and the Alumni Board, where she serves on its Governance Committee. She is on the Board of Directors for the Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union and the chair of its Human Resource Committee. She is a past member on the Board of Directors of My Sisters Place and is a member of its Development committee.

Kate Farrow Stoddard HCW AA'72 is the assistant director of the Development Core Center for interdisciplinary research on AIDS at Yale (CIRA). She was previously with the Alzheimer’s Resource of CT. She has been a development professional since 1981, with 30 years of advancement experience in higher education at Quinnipiac University and Saint Joseph College. Kate served as director of corporate and foundation relations, director of development, associate vice president for development and vice president of development and alumni relations at Quinnipiac University. She managed $1 million annual fund programs, 3 capital campaigns, major and planned gift programs and worked closely with the President of Quinnipiac on strategic planning and Board development. She is a certified fundraising executive, recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kate holds an associate's degree from Hartford College for Women, her bachelor's degree from University of Connecticut and a master's degree from Saint Joseph College. Kate is an avid reader, gardener, and runner.

Bill Webster is Vice President and branch manager for Webster Bank of West Hartford, CT. His responsibilities include managing branch financial performance, setting profit expectations, directing control implementation, and employee development with an emphasis on coaching. His expertise, as noted in The New York Times, is in customer service and employee relations. Bill also acts as the Executive Directing Board member for Journey Home, an organization with the mission to end homelessness in the Greater Hartford region. Additionally he serves on the Board of Directors for the Explorers of East Hartford, CT, and the Bishop’s Corner Neighborhood Association of West Hartford, CT. Bill has attended the New England School of Finance and Johnson and Wales College. He serves on the Scholarship and Finance Committees for WELFund.

Lucille M. Nickerson
Founding Board Chair, is president of Nickerson-Zegarelli Consultants, LLC, and specializes in strategic planning, leadership, governance, and board-related issues for non-profits and small businesses. Over a number of years, she served successively as legal counsel, corporate secretary, and senior business executive at a Fortune 100 company. Lucille's education credentials include a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, a master's degree from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College. She is currently chair of the University Board of Regents and was a trustee of Hartford College for Women.