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"Together, we lift each other up," says member Beth Van Derslice

Women in Business affinity group promotes personal and professional growth, community spirit among alumni, students, and parents
Posted October 22, 2015

Women in Business — one of the Alumni Association’s 25 affinity groups — provides opportunities for Johns Hopkins women to advance their personal and professional development and to make connections with one another. Founded in 2011, the group brings members together to discuss topics of interest, share resources and experiences, and find new job opportunities.

For Beth Van Derslice, A&S '00, a compliance counselor for NYSE Governance Services, the reasons for joining are simple. "I'm part of Women in Business because I'm inspired by these amazing women," she says. "We come from all career levels and backgrounds, and together, we lift each other up."

It was at a Law affinity group cocktail reception that Van Derslice learned of the Women in Business network. After attending the group's third annual spring conference in March, she knew she had found her circle. "I left feeling smarter, motivated, and empowered by other members of the group and Johns Hopkins," she says.

Melissa Cross, A&S '09, a management consultant for Grant Thornton LLP, felt the same sense of camaraderie after participating in last year's program. "During a breakout session on self-promotion and marketing, I realized, this is my network," says Cross, describing her conference experience as life-changing.

"Thanks to Women in Business, I have access, support, and a community with shared values," she adds. "Now, not only do I need to leverage this resource, but I must do my part to make sure it thrives and exists for the benefit of others."

Through the philanthropic support and volunteer service of Women in Business members and other alumni — along with parents of Hopkins students — the Alumni Association and its affinity engagement program are helping undergraduate students through on-campus activities and one-on-one mentoring. "We provide counsel to other Hopkins women who could profit from the perspective of someone who's been in their shoes," Cross explains.

In addition to creating opportunities for alumni engagement and student enrichment, group members share the benefits of their professional experience and Hopkins education with women in their community. They're partnering with nonprofits such as Dress for Success, which provides professional clothing and accessories to disadvantaged women entering or re-entering the workforce, and My Sister's Circle, a mentoring program for middle- and high-school girls in Baltimore. At a recent event on the university’s Homewood campus, college-aged alumnae of My Sister's Circle had a chance to network and to learn of opportunities for personal and professional advancement.

"They practiced their elevator pitches and asked questions about how they could advance their professional goals," Cross says. "We were able to offer insights that helped the girls polish their résumés and pitches."

For more information on the Johns Hopkins affinity groups and to get involved, please visit alumni.jhu.edu/jhaffinities.