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Building relationships over brunch

Highlights from the Chicago and Twin Cities Women’s Connection events

Bulldog alumnae strengthened bonds this fall over brunches held in Chicago and Minneapolis. The gatherings, which featured speakers and social opportunities, marked the third Drake Women’s Connection event in the Windy City and introduced a new network in Minneapolis.

The Chicago crowd was treated to an appearance by Wanda Everage, vice provost for student affairs and academic excellence. Everage, who will retire this spring, led attendees in a discussion about finding their passion.

Wanda Everage connects with alumnae at the Chicago Drake Women's Connection brunch.

“I love the concept of empowerment and being inspirational and motivational,” Everage says. “I spent a little time talking about my journey at Drake and talking about ways in which alumnae can engage with the University. I told them to always be thinking about how are we giving back by sharing their skills, talents and abilities and how are we representing that Drake degree in everything we do.”

Everage especially appreciated the multigenerational aspect of the networking event and says she believes the brunches are a wonderful way of empowering women who have the Drake common experience, regardless of when they graduated.

“When they laid the nametags out before everyone arrived, it was like walking down memory lane,” Everage says. “It was just wonderful — hugging, reminiscing. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, now that this is my last year at Drake.”

The Drake Alumni Association will present a spring Drake Women’s Connection brunch in Chicago focused on harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit.

Drake Trustee Cyndi Lesher, AS’70, addressed the audience in Minneapolis. She is the retired president and CEO of Northern States Power Co., and is involved with many civic groups and boards, and served on the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

“The essence of my message was that women as individuals matter,” she says. “But as a group, we have impact. Women have tremendous power and influence through philanthropy and strategic giving.”

Lesher says she is proud of the return on investment (ROI) that her Drake University education provided and was inspired by the ROI experienced by multiple generations of women present at the brunch.

The Drake Women's Connection Brunch in Minneapolis

“The energy in the room was incredible,” Lesher says. “I think our Twin Cities Women’s Connection is clearly headed for success. I’ve gotten great feedback from the women about wanting more and staying connected to Drake and each other. In fact, I later had lunch with a young woman I met at the brunch.”

Drake Women’s Connection is hosting a happy hour and networking event for Twin Cities women in January. Wanda Everage is slated to speak at their brunch this spring.

Both cities boast enthusiastic alumnae committees working on the programming for the Women’s Connection and are committed to offering fall and spring brunches as well as smaller events in between for Drake women in their community.

Find more photos of the fall Drake Women’s Connection Brunches in Drake University Alumni Flickr galleries.