Black Women’s Leadership Boosted by $1 Million Gift to Howard

WASHINGTON (November 12, 2020) – Today, Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick announced a $1 million gift from Heather and Jim Murren to launch the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership at Howard University. The gift kicks off a multi-million fundraising effort for what will be an interdisciplinary, student-centered, faculty-led institute that works with professional programs in health, business, communications and law, as well as majors in the arts and sciences.

Jim and Heather Murren made a $1 million gift to Howard to create the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership (Image credit: Howard University)

“We are extremely grateful to Trustee Jim Murren and Mrs. Heather Hay Murren for this generous $1 million gift to create the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership at Howard University. Our students’ college experiences will be significantly enriched through this program, which will empower Black women to continue to take their rightful place as leaders in every facet of our society and the global community,” says President Frederick.

The Center will be led by J. Jarpa Dawuni, Esq., Ph.D., Howard’s esteemed associate professor of political science, who has been recognized as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar and a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow. The Center’s academic focus will include producing innovative and theoretically grounded research and creating a data center on issues of women and gender in the United States and the global Black diaspora. The Center will provide opportunities for students through scholarships and internships. Additionally, the program will match students with high-impact women leaders, entrepreneurs, industry experts, policymakers and social justice advocates for mentorship and sponsorship opportunities.

Trustee Jim Murren and Heather Murren expressed excitement for the project. “We cannot overstate the importance of advancing Black women’s leadership at this moment in history. Facing a global pandemic, a severe economic downturn and a renewed societal focus on racial injustice, the country is facing a critical inflection point. To secure our national economy and ensure our future prosperity, we have to promote female leadership and ensure women’s equal representation across all sectors of our society. Women already represent a significant and growing proportion of the labor force and a vocal component of civic life. This gift seeks to capture that energy, develop this exceptional talent pool and push our country forward, with women at the helm. Under the transcendent leadership of President Frederick, Howard has become a widely influential institution that is uniquely positioned to develop the next generation of leaders. With Dr. Dawuni’s guidance, we will work to bring this Center to life and realize the vision behind it. As lifetime investors of Howard, we know that the returns on this investment will be exceptional for Black women and for our country as a whole as we move past these challenging times.”

Dawuni explained that the Center will have four areas of focus: student-centered teaching and learning; high-impact faculty research, publications and grant-making; community-centered service learning; and global advocacy. “The vision of the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership is to prepare future leaders who are gender-conscious and grounded in Black feminist consciousness through collaboration with faculty on research, service learning and global engagement,” she says. “The career pipeline project will act as a transformational strategy for opening up professional opportunities and preparing our students for leadership in their chosen careers.”

Anyah Gilmore-Jones, a senior political science major, said the Center will prepare students to contribute to the progressiveness of society as a whole, both locally and globally. She would like to see programs that address the study of women, gender and global studies and be able to work with faculty on research to highlight how these topics affect the world in which we live.

“Many times, we overlook the complexity gender has in relation to the experience of identifying as women while interacting with different cultural backgrounds and identities,” says Gilmore-Jones. “Gender is often conflated with the simplistic concept of being only ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine.’ The establishment of this Center will promote the expansion of knowledge, critical thinking, organizing and the learning of global perspectives on feminist and gender issues.”

One of Dawuni’s former students, M. Isabelle Chaudry, Esq., studied law at Howard University and now has a rewarding career as senior policy manager at the National Women’s Health Network. As an attorney who leads work on intersecting issues of women’s health, human rights and social justice, Chaudry believes access to the new Center will have a profound impact on the next generation of women studying at Howard.

“Fortunately, during my matriculation through Howard University School of Law, I was able to connect with the right mentors and opportunities to develop the skills needed to further my career in this field,” says Chaudry. “I trust that Howard University students will greatly benefit from having such an important Center on campus, which will allow them to develop enhanced perspectives and skills that will positively impact the world.” 

To make a donation to the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership, please visit https://giving.howard.edu/centerforwomen. For more information, please email genderstudies@howard.edu.

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

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