In the early 1980s faculty from other Harvard Schools began to be invited to speak, as well as lawyers, legislators, authors, journalists, environmentalists, psychologists and psychotherapists from the Greater Boston area. All of our speakers have generously given their time without any honoraria.
Previous speakers include philosopher and author Sissella Bok, anthropologist and author Mary Catherine Bateson, former Smith College president and author Jill Conway, Federal 1st District judge Nancy Gertner, psychoanalyst and author Jean Baker Miller MD, anti-nuclear advocate Helen Caldicott, psychologist and author Irene Stiver, politician and philanthropist Ambassador Swanee Hunt (now at the Kennedy School), elder activist Elsie Frank (Barney's mother), arts activist Elma Lewis, theologians Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox and Harvey Cox, Globe columnists Linda Weltner, Patricia Smith and Derrick Jackson, CBS TV 4 newscaster Liz Walker, broadcast journalist and radio presenter Callie Crossley, and innumerable faculty members from the Divinity School and other schools at Harvard and from other colleges and universities in greater Boston, Worcester and the Connecticut Valley Five Colleges.
Between 25 and 50 people, mostly women, usually attend WE. Our chronological ages range from the 20s to the 80s. In our past and present religious orientations we represent a diverse range of religions as well as the non-religious, and welcome all faiths. We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, aunts, great-aunts and grandmothers. We are teachers, clergy, housewives, psychotherapists, physicists, business women, lawyers, architects, authors, composers, singers, gardeners, caregivers, artists, and craftswomen. Our participants are a very intelligent, sensitive and responsive group to speak to. We all share an interest in gaining deeper insight into our lives, our relationships and our world.
Participants travel up to two-and-a-half hours to come to our Thursday half-days. WomenExplore mails to about 500 alumni in Greater Boston, Eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Rhode Island, a few in Hartford CT and the Amherst MA area, a few in Vermont, a considerable number in southern New Hampshire, and a few in Maine. We typically get a handful of new attenders each Thursday. Most come because a friend brings them. Since 1973 more than 4,500 have participated.
The Advisory Committee is an open group of women which meets with the Program Coordinator, or selects a Planning Facilitator, to plan WE's fall and spring conferences. All WE participants are welcome to attend the Advisory Committe meetings. Not everyone comes every time. But over the afternoons of the planning process 30 to 40 women take part in giving shape to each new series. When acting in its planning capacity, which is what it spends most of its time on, this group is often referred to as the Planning Committee. At other times the Advisory Committee meets with the Executive Director to consider any other matter that might affect WE. (To date the Program Coordinator and Executive Director positions have always been filled by the one person.)
People who took part in the Advisory Committee in recent years include:
Marcia Miller Boehlke
Reita Collins Ennis
David Dodson Gray
Elizabeth Dodson Gray
Barbara Appleton James
Erica B. K.
Elizabeth Wolfe Morse
Mary Rose Muti
Martha ALB Nielsen|
Mary Ann Robinson
Mary Ann Serra
Sandra Schonbrun Wayne
Ann Sayre Wiseman
It is the job of the Board to oversee the executive director and to ensure that WomenExplore faithfully carries out its purpose without extravagance or waste. The Board is responsible for providing leadership on financial matters, fund-raising and marketing. The major decisions remain in the hands of the large Advisory Committee. Any "processes" considered by the board will be submitted to the Advisory Committee for approval.
Since 2008 the Board has been elected by the Advisory Committee. Two year term limits were introduced in 2011 and Board elections were required to take place annually. (A retiring Board member may stand for election again.) The last Board election took place at the Advisory Committee meeting in May 2019. The 2020 election was suspended until the following year due to the covid-19 pandemic. This had the effect of adding a year to each Board member's term. The next Board elections will occur at the end of the Spring 2021 series, at the last or second last Advisory Committee meeting.
The Current Board (with dates elected/appointed to the Board) is:
MaryMargaret Halsey (2011 2019)|
Martha Nielsen (2013 2015 2017 2019)
Erica Kenny (2015 2017 2019 President 2019-2020)
Barbara Sweet (2015 2017 2019)
Mary Rose Muti (2016 2018) President|
Mary Ann Serra (2012 2014 2016 2018) Treasurer
Lindsa Vallee (2010 2012 2014 2016 2018) Clerk
Paula Chandoha (2008 2012 2014 2016 2018)
The officers of the Board are Mary Rose Muti, President, Mary Ann Serra, Treasurer and Lindsa Vallee, Clerk.
Previous Board members (with dates elected/appointed to the Board) include:
Marcia Miller Boehlke (2003 2011 2013, Clerk 2010 Treasurer 2010-2012)|
Charlene Brotman (2003 2011 2013, President 2010-2013)
Judith Cohen (2011)
Elaine Fisher (2013 2015 2017 2019, President 2013-2019)
Carol Goldman (2008-2012)
Elizabeth Dodson Gray (President 2003-2010)
Colleen Donohue (Treasurer 2003-2009)|
Anna Donovan (2012)
Muna Killingback (2011)
Angela Maffeo (2008-2010, Treasurer 2009-2010)
Emmy Robertson (2012)
Esther Scanlan (2003-2011)
Linda Scheib (2016, resigned 2016)
Barbara Villandry (2014 2016)
Sandy Wayne (2013)
— chair is the Executive Director.
— members are Paula Chandoha, Barbara Villandry, Barbara Sweet.
— members are Cheryl Suchors, Susan Nulsen.
— members include the Treasurer and the Executive Director.
— members include the Executive Director.
— members are MaryMargaret Halsey and Susan Nulsen.
— led to the selection of Maria Behnke as the new Executive Director starting in December 2012, and previously Tracey Hurd starting in February 2012.
— responsible for December mailing
— as the Party Committee organized the garden party held in June 2010 in honor of Elizabeth and David Dodson Gray on the occasion of their retirement
— under the leadership of Lindsa Vallee organized the 40th Anniversary celebrations. — Martha Nielsen and Mary Rose Muti are currently active.
— was set up following the recommendations of the Transition Task Force.
— was to find one or more people to replace Elizabeth and David Dodson Gray when they retired at the end of May 2010.
— members were Charlene Brotman, Anna Donovan, Angela Maffeo, Emily Robertson, Esther Scanlan, Sandy Wayne, Cheryl Suchors (co-opted), Susan Nulsen (co-opted)
— after advertizing and interviewing candidates, selected three to present to the Advisory Committee. Conducted election at which the second Executive Director/Program Coordinator was chosen
— led to the selection of Muna Killingback as the new Executive Director and Program Coordinator starting in August 2010
— continued the work of the Growth and Sustainability Committee. It made a report to the Advisory Committee before dissolving.
— the Advisory Committee voted to determine the preferred models for succession.
— members were Helen Barron, Charlene Brotman, Chris Farrow-Noble, Louise McMurray, Elizabeth Wolfe Morse, Susan Nulsen, Cheryl Suchors, Sandy Wayne
— examined the organization of TOP after Liz and David
retire. It has made a report to the board and is now dissolved.
— members were Jadzia Allison, Elizabeth Wolfe Morse, Pat Morris and Octavia Porter Randolph.
— looked at how new board members might be democratically selected. It has made a report to the board, which was accepted by the board and AC and now provides the basis of all WE elections. This committee is now dissolved.
— members were Louise McMurray (Chair), Sandy Wayne, Erica B.K. and Susan Nulsen.