Bryant Trustee Nancy DeViney '75 has made supporting women's leadership initiatives at Bryant a philanthropic priority.
Bryant Trustee Nancy DeViney '75 has made supporting women's leadership initiatives at Bryant a philanthropic priority.
Champion of women’s leadership initiatives to bridge talent gap
Apr 18, 2020, by Staff Writer

After a 40-year career with IBM in several global leadership roles, Nancy (McHugh) DeViney ’75 launched a new chapter as an executive coach with a focus on advancing women in leadership roles. That passion also informs her philanthropy, inspiring gifts on behalf of her and her husband Mark that empower Bryant University’s women students.

“Women are under-represented in all levels of leadership today, which is a significant talent gap for organizations and society,” she says. “One way we can change this dynamic is to give women access to leadership development programs before they enter the workplace.”

DeViney. says, “I’m inspired by the opportunity to help women at Bryant explore their authentic leadership style and bring it into the world. Mark and I decided to focus our giving to Bryant on women’s leadership initiatives to do our part to help bridge the leadership talent gap.” 

Game-changing leadership development

“Many of Bryant’s women students are already leaders in academics, student life and athletics -- we want to build on that and support them in expanding their leadership insights and capabilities,” says DeViney. “Women’s leadership courses and programs at Bryant can help facilitate learning and growth through increased exposure to leadership topics and through self-reflection and dialogue about strengths and areas of self-doubt that could impact their advancement.”

Classes such as Women and Leadership: Strategies for Success and Professional Development, taught by Professor Lori Coakley, Ph.D., foster a rich learning environment for both the women and men who take the course, DeViney notes. Exploring business issues, gender dynamics, interpersonal skills, leadership styles, and personal branding – and connecting the students with invaluable mentors – helps them better understand the world and sets them up for future success. 

The recently launched Living-Learning Community for first-year women, she says, “is another exciting example of how Bryant is cultivating an on-going leadership development experience, as well as a sense of community and belonging for women students. These types of focused programs for women, says DeViney, can be a game-changer in empowering them with the courage and confidence to pursue leadership opportunities starting in the early years of their careers.”    

Inspiring other gifts to make a difference for the next generation of leaders

In making their gift, DeViney says she and her husband wanted to start a movement of giving to women’s leadership initiatives that accelerates and expands the good work of faculty and staff. “I am sure that there are many Bryant alumni, families and friends -- both men and women -- who have gone on to have a great impact in their professional lives and who are champions for diversity and inclusion, including gender parity in the workplace,” she says. “Contributions to this area for Bryant would be a great way to advance our shared values and to make a difference for the next generation of leaders.”

She and her husband were excited to hear that their philanthropy inspired a $1 million gift from an alumna. “We'd like to say "thank you for this incredibly generous gift!”

Tapping into the collective intelligence and creativity that diverse and inclusive environments foster benefits everyone, DeViney says. “The more we can level the playing field to accomplish this, the better off the world is going to be.”

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