Champlain’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative & Symposium

Champlain’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative & Symposium: A Discussion With Nina Knorr, WEI Student Coordinator

WEISince last year, the Women’s Empowerment Initiative (WEI) has made significant strides to bring information and resources to campus to educate individuals about Women Empowerment. The group held their first WEI Symposium last year, bringing together students, faculty, staff and community members in support of this on-campus initiative. With the second WEI Symposium right around the corner, I’ve reached out to Nina Knorr, a senior Professional Writing major with a Global Studies minor at Champlain, who has been working with the WEI since the beginning of her third year. She recently was formally named the Student Coordinator of WEI.

Here’s what she had to say about the Women’s Empowerment Initiative:

What is the Women’s Empowerment Initiative?

NK: The mission of the Women’s Empowerment Initiative is to “cultivate confidence and courage by fostering the achievements of women. It strives to empower current and future leaders and to provide learning, networking, and recognition opportunities for students, staff and faculty.”

Champlain College recognized a need for women to be empowered on campus. We’re working toward this goal through student engagement and events, such as making Valentine’s Day cards for survivors of domestic violence, having speakers from HOPE Works and Women Helping Battered Women come to campus, raising awareness about women’s issues through a student lens and planning professional development opportunities. I’ve also played a part in helping to plan the Symposium, and it’s been an incredible team effort.

What is WEI’s main goal?

NK: Today women have been making so many positive strides to succeed in fields such as technology, computer science, business and game creation [popular majors/fields at Champlain], and they have paved the way for women everywhere to continue succeeding in all of these fields.

By saying this, I [mean] one of the goals of the Women’s Empowerment Initiative is to empower women to get steadily more involved in these and all other industries that [previously had challenges for women to succeed].

We should be empowered by [whatever gender we identify with, if we choose].

The WEI Symposium is coming up, can you tell me a little about that? What it is? Who the speakers are?

NK: Check out the Facebook page! There is also a lot of information about WEI and the Symposium on the Champlain College website.

The Women’s Empowerment Initiative (WEI) Symposium will be held on March 7th, 2016. The keynote speaker is Moni Basu, CNN Senior Reporter.


Empowering Experiences: Panel Discussion → 2:00 PM: Argosy Gym

This panel is focusing on “Developing Agency and Voice.” Women from different backgrounds will provide their own perspectives and professional insight on the topic. The panel will feature Rachel Arnold, Co-Director of Girl Develop-It, Diana Gonzalez, State Representative, Winooski, Christine Hallquist, CEO Vermont Electric Corporation and Kate Williams, CEO of 1% of the Planet and will be moderated by Linda Tarr-Whelan, former UN Ambassador, US Professional Advisor and UN Status of Women Commissioner.

Breakout Sessions & Interactive Resources Fair → 3:40-5:00 PM: Argosy Gym

During this part of the Symposium, attendees will be able to obtain information and resources from a variety of community organizations that support women’s empowerment. They will also be able to participate in many breakout sessions as well. Some of the groups that will be here during this time are; Vermont Works for Women, Dress for Success, Hopeworks, Women Helping Battered Women, Women’s Leadership Council, Champlain College Women’s Center, and more!

Recognizing our Champions → 5:15-5:30 PM: Champlain Room

Join the members and supporters of WEI to recognize the members of the community who have made a difference for women-identified people on campus.

Keynote Speaker, Moni Basu, CNN Senior Reporter: 5:30 PM: Champlain Room

Film Showing, Discussion and Breakaway Game → 7:00 PM: Alumni Auditorium

A Breakaway facilitator team will show a demonstration of their work around the world.

Professor Tanya Lee Stone will reflect on what it was like to take the movie Girl Rising and adapt it into a book. Both the film and the book ask the same question: “Why are 62 million girls around the world not being educated?”

Following the screening of the movie, the Breakaway game facilitators will hold a Q&A session to discuss the film and their work in gender agency and empowerment across the globe.

This event is LEAD eligible for LEAD 102 and 301 credit

Are you working with any other groups on campus?

NK: I try to be the student connection between groups that are working toward women’s empowerment on campus. I’m here for students. A lot of individuals have come to me with concerns or suggestions. I try to make all the groups that address topics of gender aware of what is going on around campus. I also take suggestions, feedback and other comments to the table at the Women’s Empowerment Initiative.

We are living in a society in which women have faced obstacles throughout history to obtain education, to vote, as well as to succeed in the workplace. This makes the idea of empowering women-identified people to reach their full potential today is so important. Although, if we are to say that we are truly moving forward as a society, we must promote opportunities and provide resources for women to learn, grow and become their best selves, personally and professionally. The goal of the Women’s Empowerment Initiative is to give women this confidence in both the workplace and in their everyday lives.

To get involved with this movement, come to the WEI Symposium on March 7th or reach out to Carin McCarthy at to learn how you can get involved.

Rachel Hatem is a senior Business Administration major with a minor in Event Management.