Leadership program expands, creating more opportunities for more women

By Arthur Smith on February 13, 2020

Now in its sixth year, TU’s Professional Leadership Program for Women continues to push TU to the forefront of leadership development

Women participating in the Professional Leadership Program for Women
Towson University's Professional Leadership Program for women welcomed its latest members earlier this year. For the first time in its history, the program will run two cohorts concurrently. 

Towson University’s Professional Leadership Program for Women was established to help women increase their capacity for leadership and influence. Now in its sixth year, the program has expanded to run two cohorts concurrently.

“This program gave me a well-stocked, shiny new box of tools to build with,” said Kim Schmulowitz, communications and marketing director at Susan G. Komen Maryland and 2020 cohort member.

Designed by business, community and educational leaders, the four-month-long program provides hands-on, practical learning and coaching in a supportive environment.

Kathleen Case has led the Professional Leadership Program for Women since its inception. According to Case, the program has become a trusted resource used by many of greater Baltimore’s top organizations to develop rising female leaders.

Organizations such as Legg Mason; Constellation; LifeBridge Health; Whiting-Turner Contracting Company; Maryland Department of Transportation; Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP; National Aquarium; University of Maryland; United Way of Central Maryland; and Johns Hopkins University have supported their own women leaders and the program over the first five years by enabling a candidate from their organization to participate each year.

Additionally, one female leader from Towson University participates annually. Heather Sorensen, director of events and operations for the Center for the Arts, and Mahnoor Ahmed, interim senior director and associate director of student development and diversity, are both participating this year.

Kaitlin Bowman ’02, senior strategist of leadership development at TU, completed the leadership program in 2017 and says the program reminded her of her purpose and exposed her to new ways to take her leadership style to the next level.

“The program brought me back to TU, as an alumna, as a participant of the leadership program and now as an employee. I’m thankful for the doors that were opened and for the relationships the program created,” says Bowman.   

As the program has become well established, applicants are applying in greater numbers. Previous participants are recommending the program to their colleagues as well as through their larger networks.

“We continue to see an amazing spectrum of women who are interested in participating,” says Case. “That’s one of the draws—the cross-section of leadership levels and different industries that creates a large, diverse networking group.”

The 2020 cohorts bring the number of past and current participants to 150 and have created a large networking group of past participants, many of whom report stepping into nonprofit board positions and receiving promotions after program completion.

“The program allowed me to connect with all sectors of industry, including my own," Bowman says. "The network has opened doors professionally and personally."

Schmulowitz, who participated in the 2016 cohort, echoes that statement, “This program has created a network of female leaders who have continued to support and strengthen each other as we remind each other of the lessons we learned.”

Women are supporting others' causes, consulting with others on business matters, providing formal and informal mentoring, providing encouragement and insights in times of challenge and recommending and facilitating speakers for corporate gatherings.

“Leveraging the support of the women in my cohort has expanded my perspective and given me access to amazing women across the state,” adds Bowman.

Having 150 women in a region the size and scope of Baltimore may seem like a drop in the bucket. However, Case says the program is buoyed in its efforts through positive feedback and participation.

“Women are routinely sharing that they are hearing about the value of the program from multiple sources,” Case says. “Women who also have participated in other area leadership programs are sharing that the Towson University program uniquely fills a development need of increasing self-awareness and confidence.

“There is definitely a buzz around TU’s women’s leadership program."

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland, BTU-Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.