Leadership program recognizes Cardinal Women*

Logan Metzger

Recognition of an individual’s hard work and passion is the goal of many programs across the Iowa State campus, but for no other program is this more important than the Cardinal Women* program.

Cardinal Women* was developed and currently led by Tera Lawson, program coordinator for the School of Education, and Denise Williams-Klotz, student services specialist for the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Lawson and Williams-Klotz created the Cardinal Women* program in 2018 after participating in a similar program themselves in 2017. The idea was to provide individuals at Iowa State with a similar experience that they went through.

“It was having women who shared similar experiences, knew what you were talking about, understood your context that was very beneficial to the discussions that we had as part of that program,” Lawson said.

This program recognizes 72 individuals who have been selected to participate in a personal and professional leadership development program specifically for women* who are faculty and staff at Iowa State University.

146 women applied to the program from all across Iowa State’s campus but only a small section was selected. They come from the Office of the President, Academic Affairs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ivy College of Business, College of Design, College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Extension and Outreach, Research, Parks Library, Ames Laboratory, Student Affairs and Operations and Finance.

This program is not reserved for just cisgender women; any staff or faculty members at Iowa State who personally identify as a woman, whether they identify as cisgender, transgender, of transgender experience or non-binary can apply and will be accepted.

“I don’t think adding the asterisk to the end of women makes this program perfect or completely inclusive,” Williams-Klotz said. “This space is for anyone who identifies as a woman and making this space as accessible is what we strive to create.”

Lawson and Williams-Klotz said the women were selected entirely based on the applicant’s online application. Their decisions were based on three categories. The first was attendance — if applicants wanted to participate in the program they had to be able to attend all five of the meetings otherwise they were not accepted. The second was interest — applicants had to explain through writing why they wanted to participate in the program and what they hoped to get out of it. The third was diversity — applicants were sought from underrepresented groups, non-academic and academic campus units and different career stages. Applicants were asked to share brief demographic information and given an opportunity to share the different perspectives they might bring to the group.

The selected women along with eight small group leaders will engage in five two-hour face-to-face sessions this fall. During these sessions, the women will participate in large and small group discussions and continue the conversation between sessions via Canvas with “homework.” Program topics include identifying and silencing the inner critic, discovering and utilizing the inner mentor, communication style strategies, approaches to negotiation and how to support and affirm members of the woman community.

“We do an activity with the small groups where we give them a group name and ask them how they embody that group name,” Lawson said. “The names that we choose are all things we think make up a “Cardinal Woman.” This year includes change-making women, courageous women, innovative women, powerful women, significant women, strategic women, strong women and trailblazing women. Those are the adjectives we feel all Cardinal Women embody, but as women sometimes they don’t see themselves in those terms and that is what we are going for.”

Williams-Klotz said that the purpose of the program is to make the participants feel “cardinal” to Iowa State. She said this could include feeling central, important, belonging, mattering and having a sense of confidence. Williams-Klotz described the women going through the program as strong, purposeful, community-minded and badass.

“Cardinal Women to me means bold and real and right-up-front,” said Amy Murphy, assistant teaching professor for English.

Murphy said that having this program is important because not all the women involved in the program are faculty or just from one department. She said it allows for the sharing of ideas that would otherwise not happen or networking that can be hard when many departments never mix with others.

“It is really essential, with the state of the world as it is now, that we as women start taking more responsibility for taking care of ourselves and each other first so that we can start living our best lives in ways that women have never been allowed to or encouraged to,” Murphy said.

Jessica Severe, grad secretary for statistics and a member of the second cohort of Cardinal Women, said that it is an honor to be accepted into a group of so many smart, inspiring and talented women.

Severe said that at first she felt diminutive and that she didn’t belong within the group, but as time went on she saw that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way and that in fact they all belonged no matter their position at Iowa State or their background.

“A Cardinal Woman is someone who works at Iowa State but really wants to have a niche in leadership,” said Alissa Stoehr, assistant teaching professor for women’s and gender studies.

Stoehr said that even though Iowa State does have some opportunities for leadership, there is still gender inequality on the campus and this program provides a space for women to feel accepted and included.

The 2019 Cardinal Women* are as follows:

Office of the President

Joli Coil, ITS

Jennifer Johnson, ITS

Jana Staudt, ISU Foundation

Academic Affairs

Lynette Edsall, Graduate College

Laura Good, University Honors Program

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Amanda Chung, NREM

Joan Cunnick, Microbiology, Animal Science/ Interdepartmental Microbiology

Erin Hodgson, Entomology

Sayali Kukday, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology

Karla Long, Center for Crops Utilization

Ivy College of Business

Shannon Grundmeier, Ivy College of Business Undergraduate Programs Office

Ke Huang (Karen), Ivy College of Business Undergraduate Programs Office

Brooke Long, Ivy College of Business Career Services

Jamie Sass, Ivy College of Business Communications Center

College of Design

Patience Lueth, Architecture

Heather Sauer, Design Administration

College of Engineering

Kristine Bond, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Tessa Brow, Mechanical Engineering

Ericka C. Eregbu, CIRAS

Breehan Gerleman, College of Engineering

Brandi Moormann, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Ashley Morton, Engineering Student Services

Gabriella Ramos, Aerospace Engineering

Stacey Ross, Electrical and Computer Engineering

College of Human Sciences

Nuria Cristina Acevedo, Food Science and Human Nutrition

Mridul Datta, Food Science and Human Nutrition 

Rachel J. Eike, Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management

Libby Franke, Kinesiology

Laura L Kilbride, College of Human Sciences Student Services

Elizabeth McNeill, Food Science and Human Nutrition **

Lisa Phillips, Kinesiology

Jennifer Van Ryswyk, Human Development and Family Studies – Child Development Laboratory School

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Abigail Andrews, Computer Science

Ruthellen Cunnally, English

Claire Kruesel, English

Amy Murphy, English

Jessica Severe, Statistics

Alissa Stoehr, Sociology/Women and Gender Studies

Kristin Towers, Psychology

Jayme Wilken, English

College of Veterinary Medicine

Amanda Kreuder, VMPM

Jessica Ward, Veterinary Clinical Sciences


Rachael Acheson, Special Collections and University Archives

Laura Sullivan, University Library


Kerry Agnitsch, Office for Responsible Research

Valyn Bodensteiner, NIAMRRE

Kristen Obbink, Office of the Vice President for Research

Brooke Langlitz, Office of Research Integrity

Extension and Outreach

Lina Rodriguez Salamanca, Extension Plant Pathologist and Diagnostician, Plant Pathology

Kristi Elmore, Extension IT

Ames Laboratory, DOE

Molly Seaboch, Ames Laboratory

Molly Granseth, Ames Laboratory

Sofia Ingersoll, Ames Laboratory

Student Affairs

Jennifer Hansen, Office of the Registrar

Rachel Haynes, Thielen Student Health

Laura Knowles, Thielen Student Health

Abby McCollom, Sorority and Fraternity Engagement

Sarah Merrill, New Student Programs

Jenny Pollard, Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs

Michelle Roling, Student Counseling Services

Jennifer Schroeder, Financial Aid/Loan Education

Linda Svenson, Department of Residence

Kristi Swedean, Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs

Bonnie Whalen, Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs

Jennifer Whalen, Office of the Registrar

Operations and Finance

Bellinda Assemien, Division of Finance

Jayna Grauerholz, Procurement Services

Linda Irlmeier, Facilities, Planning, and Management

Susie Johnson, Risk Management

Kristine Loes, Controllers Department

Ali Machedon, Facilities Planning and Management

Becky Rogers, Controllers Department

Cardinal Women* Group Leaders

Karen Couves, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Carrie Giese, Student Wellness

Kate Goudy, Child Welfare Research and Training Project

Jennifer Johnson, Admissions

Jessie Liebenguth, Reiman Gardens

Rachel McKenny, English

Kara Nady, Liberal Arts and Sciences

Megan O’Donnell, Library