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Laura Johnson Initiative

The Laura Johnson Initiative
for Women Leaders

Created in 2008, The Laura Johnson Initiative for Women Leaders is a leadership development program for women faculty and staff at the University of Hartford. In its inclusion of faculty and staff together, this popular program succeeds not only in building leadership and confidence, but also in fostering greater community on campus. Reflecting the legacy of Hartford College for Women, this program was named for Laura Johnson, a former Dean and President of Hartford College for Women who embodied leadership and instilled confidence in the many Hartford College for Women students whose lives she touched.

Through monthly learning sessions participants experience an innovative leadership training program, meet one another and significant women leaders, engage in a campus or personal development project, and gain exposure to higher level decision making within the University and beyond. There is no cost to participants thanks to the generosity of WELFund’s donors - a community of women and men who believe that advancing women’s potential is a personal and collective priority. These donors include faculty, staff, and students who have benefited from one of WELFund’s program, including many Laura Johnson alumnae.

Since 2008, 74 female faculty and staff from all of the University’s 7 colleges and more than 21 different departments (academic and student affairs) have participated.

At the 2015 WELFund Celebration, Beth Richards, Director of Rhetoric and Professional Writing for Arts and Sciences, and Laura Johnson Class of 2016, spoke about her experience. "Laura Johnson understood the challenges inherent in women seeking to practice their leadership gifts. She was a pioneer, in the best sense of that word. She also understood that then, as now, women are significantly under-represented in leadership roles in organizations (including universities) and that, frankly, women who had achieved leadership positions needed to help other women to do the same. " She went on to say, "I am certain that Laura Johnson would be immensely pleased and proud of the 74 “graduates” of “her” program since 2008. I know that she would enjoy our current cohort of 14 women, who come from many areas and departments in the university, and from a wide variety of levels and positions. She would like us. A lot." 

To read all of Beth Richards' remarks please click here.

2014-2016 Laura Johnson Initiative for Women Leaders:

Cat Balco, Associate Professor, Art and Drawing
Paige Bray, Associate Professor, ENHP
Amber Dubnov, Assistant Business Manager, Athletics
Stephanie Field, Psychotherapist, Counseling and Psychological Services
Jenni Freidman, Visiting Assistant Professor, HAS
Yingcui Li, Assistant Professor, A&S
Allison Joslyn, Project Manager, A&S Center for Social Research
Kyle Lynes, Reference Librarian, Libraries
Torshia Maxwell, Assist. Dir. of Community Service & Student Conduct, Student Affairs
Geralyn Merrill, Asstiant to Dean, CETA
Dawn Neese, Visiting Assistant Professor, A&S
Cindy Oppenheimer, Office Coordinator, Psychology
Collette Ranaudo, Assistant Director, Admissions and SFA
Beth Richards, Director of Rhetoric and Professional Writing, A&S
Larissa Schroeder, Assistant Professor, A&S

If you are interested in applying for the 2016-2018 Laura Johnson Initiative for Women Leaders program, please contact Amy Jaffe-Barzach, WELFund Director at or (860) 768-5471 or click here for application. Our next program will start during the fall 2016 semester. Check back for application deadlines.