The Women’s Advancement Initiative is proud to celebrate and continue the legacy of Hartford College for Women.
Hartford College for Women Trustees and University of Hartford Regents came together to create a new focus and opportunity in women’s education–one right for the times–an education in leadership skills for women where they could be challenged and supported in the tradition of Hartford College.
Established in 2006, this program, known as The Women’s Advancement Initiative and its signature program, LEAD (Leadership Education and Development), serves more than 100 students annually. LEAD continues the Hartford College for Women legacy of diversity, community, learning, and scholarship – with a mission to help women to be impactful and successful in their lives and their communities. On September 9, 2023, they will celebrate the 90th anniversary of Hartford College for Women.
Story SuggestionsThe Hartford College for Women legacy is rich with stories. We love hearing about your memories and favorite moments. At the suggestion of many alumnae we plan to feature stories and experiences in future publications. If you have a Hartford College for Women memory, story, or would like to tell us about the success a fellow alum is having since graduation, please contact us.
Finding Her Way
Paralegal Program and LEAD Student,
Doh Paw ’23 wanted to attend college out of state so she could live on campus and escape family responsibilities. She had been translating her parents’ conversations with doctors, nurses, and lawyers since the age of 12 and wanted to walk away from that role.
The night she planned to send her deposit in, she couldn’t do it. Her family needed her to drive, translate, and write letters. She couldn’t abandon them. She felt she was holding herself back when, instead, she sent her deposit to the University of Hartford, a five-minute drive from her family’s Hartford apartment.
A Sisterhood Across Time
Hartford College for Women’s past bridges into the future. It began as a noble experiment in 1933 as Mount Holyoke in Hartford. Although Hartford College had several name changes, two truths persisted: it was well respected for its vision, goals, and commitment to academic achievement and the personal success of women; and it was unique in its focus on building a dynamic community.
Hartford College for Women Trustees and University of Hartford Regents came together to create a new focus and opportunity in women’s education—one right for the times—an education in leadership skills for women where they could be challenged and supported in the tradition of Hartford College. Today, this program is known as The Women’s Advancement Initiative and its signature program, LEAD.
It is important to focus on women's education and advancement opportunities."
Lifelong Activist Mims Butterworth Giving and Teaching
When 20-year-old college student Miriam “Mims” Butterworth had the chance to study in Germany in the summer of 1938, she said yes, despite the rise of the Third Reich. And when a friend invited Butterworth to join 240 women and men from 42 countries on a peace train to a World Conference on Women in Beijing, Mims, then 77 years old, she said yes, not letting her age deter her.
Butterworth’s willingness to live fully and embrace challenges inspired The Women’s Advancement Initiative to adopt her “Just Say Yes” philosophy as a core value of its LEAD program for female students. The organization’s commitment to educating women from diverse backgrounds has motivated her to give annually and create the Miriam and Oliver Butterworth & Family LEAD Program Endowed Fund.
The thing that always struck me about Mims is her intellect, her interest in ideas, and in encouraging people.”
A Foundation to Succeed
When Hartford College for Women alumna Karen Gibbs Orefice’s husband surprised her with a birthday gift five years ago, he warned their grandchildren to get the tissues ready. Jerry Orefice ’66 had donated a scholarship in her name to The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD program, sponsoring five students’ participation in this life-changing program. The students made a video to introduce themselves and wish Karen a happy birthday. At Karen’s party, Jerry played the video.
“There they were in real life. We saw the girls we were going to sponsor. They weren’t just a name on a piece of paper. I love them all. They are so amazing and driven.”
Hartford College taught me to put my best foot forward. This has followed me all of my life. I taught my children and my students the same thing. The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD program is teaching the very same thing to today’s students.”