Author: Hayley Major

Published

Women today are encouraged to pursue careers corresponding to their passions, regardless of gender-related expectations and constraints. With this in mind, the six members of the inaugural Terry Women’s Initiative (TWI) Circle of Donors saw a need and opportunity to establish a platform that inspires confidence and provides the necessary resources for students, especially women, to succeed in both their undergraduate and professional pursuits.

Launched in 2016, TWI offers Terry students the resources to engage in ways that support their career development and promote self-assurance. TWI has grown to include an annual student conference, Learning from the Pros series, flash mentoring sessions, Coffee & Conversations small-group gatherings, an annual golf clinic and the Sea Island Scholars Program.

At the second annual TWI Student Conference hosted in April, Lauren Barrs (BBA ’09), assistant director of campus recruiting for EY, began her discussion by acknowledging female firsts. It was not so long ago individuals such as Raymonde de Laroche, the first woman to earn her pilot’s license, and Mary J. Patterson, the first African-American woman to earn her bachelor of arts degree, broke gender norms to become trailblazers for generations of women. 

TWI acknowledges the importance of these historic events and the confidence gap that still exists between genders in both education and the workplace. The women of the TWI Circle of Donors recall times when the divide was even larger. For them, Terry helped cultivate a sense of purpose and opened doors leading to future success. Through TWI, they hope to grow that culture for generations of rising business leaders.

Laura Brightwell (BBA ’89): 

“My international business degree from Terry College prepared me for a long, fulfilling career in the Coca-Cola system where I had the opportunity to serve in an executive role in London until recently. I am proud to be a UGA grad and grateful to be able to support my favorite business school,” says Laura, whose motivation to support the Terry Women’s Initiative stems from her desire to see students succeed academically and professionally. “Through my work experiences and business knowledge, I want to help accelerate building leadership competencies in our students so they not only thrive but also succeed as they confidently and competently enter the business world.” Her efforts, combined with the other women in the TWI Circle of Donors, launched an exceptional opportunity for students at Terry. “In partnering with the other five leaders who are bringing this initiative to life for UGA students, I know TWI will instill the required confidence for students to take smart risks while successfully navigating the challenges and opportunities ahead of them,” she says.

Betsy Camp (BBA ’74, JD ’77): 

“I supported TWI because I believe very much that my personal success was due to the education I received at Terry,” says Betsy, president and CFO of DF Management Inc. Considering the differences between her time at Terry and today’s student experience, she says, “I went to school at a time when there were few women at Terry. I had to overcome my own internal insecurities. I had tons of encouragement from my professors and opportunities outside the classroom, including working for them, that helped me gain a certain amount of confidence.” She looks to the future with optimism and hope. “We’re in a period of rapid cultural change. I think that will be for the better — a better world, people from all backgrounds and genders being able to contribute in whatever field they choose without being pushed into certain kinds of labor based on race, gender or religion,” she says. Betsy believes strongly in investing in students. “Now that I am able, I want to give back. I hope it will empower generations of women to achieve their full potential.”

Beth Deeley (BBA ’92): 

For native Athenian Beth Deeley, UGA has long been a part of her life. “From computer classes as a child, to swimming practice at Stegeman Hall, football and basketball games, and my first job at the Georgia Center, the University of Georgia was a tremendous source of learning, opportunity, and fun growing up. And thanks to my formal education at the Terry College of Business, I developed the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to excel in the workplace.” Now an attorney and partner at Latham & Watkins, Beth’s experience at Terry motivated her to find ways to stay connected and support the efforts of Terry students through TWI. “I am very grateful for all the wonderful benefits and opportunities the University of Georgia has presented to me over my lifetime, and this is one small way I can give back. The Terry College of Business is full of exceptionally smart, talented, hard-working women. But the reality is that in the workplace, all of those attributes are frequently not enough to succeed if you lack self-confidence, connections and ‘inside-baseball’ knowhow. I think TWI will be a great resource in helping Terry students further develop those soft skills they need to succeed.”

Elisha Finney (BBA ’83):

Recently retired as executive vice president and CFO for Varian Medical Systems, Elisha always makes it a point to pay it forward. “I received a fabulous education from Terry and am so fortunate to be able to give back to the university that gave me so much. It is important to give so we can continue to improve and expand UGA for many generations to come. I am so proud to be a UGA graduate.” Elisha’s gift to support the Terry Women’s Initiative spurs from her desire to see more women succeed not only as business leaders, but as mentors to future classes of students. “I am fortunate to have had many fabulous male mentors during my career,” she says. “Unfortunately, though, I never had a female mentor. I recently retired from Varian Medical Systems, and I am pleased to say the legacy that I am proudest of is mentoring young men and women there. I hope these young Terry women can learn from my experiences. I want to help instill confidence in them that they can succeed in whatever career they embark upon.”

Bonney Stamper Shuman (BBA ’80): 

“I am so grateful for the education that I received at Terry,” says Bonney, co-founder and director of Stratix Corp. Women succeeding in business is an important issue for her — one that drove her to fund the futures of women at Terry by providing startup funds for the Terry Women’s Initiative. “I want to do all that I can to help prepare the women in Terry to be successful once they graduate.” Reflecting back on her own success, Bonney muses on her days as a Terry student. “I think my greatest joy in Terry came when I passed statistics!” The hands-on learning she experienced while pursuing her undergraduate degree made a lasting impression. “My favorite experience came from a commodities class when we worked as a team on a project. That was a nice ‘real world’ experience and quite different from the traditional lecture/test experience.” Bonney knows students will receive similar experiential learning opportunities through TWI as they spend one-on-one time with notable executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Debbie Storey (AB ’80, MBA ’06): 

Debbie Storey, retired executive vice president of mobility customer service at AT&T, reflects fondly on her time at UGA. “As I look back on my days in Athens, I think of the wonderful lifelong friends I met, the memories we made, the experiences I had and the lessons I learned. I also think about the professors that influenced me in my personal and professional life, some of whom I continue to be in touch with today. I choose to give back to Terry not only as a gesture of gratitude, but so that students for years to come can benefit from an education that will prepare them to succeed and to make a positive impact on the world.” For Debbie, the purpose of TWI is one of inspiration and opportunity. “I hope that through the Terry Women’s Initiative, we can provide students the opportunity to connect with and hear from successful female students, alumni and guest speakers who can share insights and wisdom on how to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. Our goal is to provide students with a network of support and inspire them to have the courage, confidence and conviction to dream big and have the perseverance to pursue their goals.”  

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