HIGHER is a series of free professional development summits designed to equip women in higher education administration with the tools, relationships, and confidence to thrive personally and professionally. These one-day experiences take a step towards diversifying leadership in higher education.
While women tend to find equal representation in lower-level managerial roles, top positions in higher education leadership fail to represent the movement toward a more diverse and inclusive future. It’s time for that to change.
Presidents at US colleges and universities
The opening workshop will have you reflecting on key themes, turning points, and people in your career. After discovering what those experiences reveal about your values, a partner exercise will help you reimagine how you can be your best self at work, at home, and everywhere in between.
Hear from women who hold senior leadership positions about their personal journeys. What did they wish they’d known at key milestones in their careers? What advice would they give to their younger selves? Learn how these outstanding women overcame barriers to reach where they are today.
After uncovering the biggest barriers women face, this interactive session will empower each attendee to design a plan for reaching their next major goal, whether it's an individual career ambition or a program for creating change on campus.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Austin College
Allison McBee Dawson, Austin College class of 2003, was selected to serve as the college’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement in 2016. In this role she provides leadership and direction for the Advancement team which includes alumni programming, donor services, communications and all fundraising activities in concert with the president and the board of trustees of Austin College.
Dawson had previously served Austin College as Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Leadership Gifts. In this capacity, she managed the major gift team, annual fund efforts, and campaign planning. Before joining Austin College, Allison managed fundraising activities for the Episcopal School of Dallas and for Southern Methodist University. She began her career at the Dallas Regional Chamber where she directed Women’s Business Issues Programming. Dawson has a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Austin College and a Master of Liberal Studies in American studies from SMU.
Vice President of Development at Prairie View A&M University
Carme Williams is the Vice President of Development at Prairie View A&M University, a member of the Texas A&M University system. She has served in this position since February 2018 and is the chief fundraising officer for the university. Williams, a native of North Carolina, has more than 20 years of experience in leadership, management and fundraising in the nonprofit arena, as well as several years of management experience from the corporate and banking industries.
Previously, she was the Senior Vice President for the Harris Foundation where she managed all of the fundraising efforts. The Harris Foundation is an organization that invest in community based initiatives to support education, health, and wealth socioeconomically disadvantaged, underserved and underrepresented populations to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams through our interactive STEAM-based programs. Prior to the Harris Foundation, she was the executive director of the Houston Community College Foundation. During her short tenure at the Foundation, Carme has secured a monumental gift of $7.5 million dollars for the Firefighter Academy at HCC and worked to increase the presence of the Houston Community College in the Texas Medical Center through the Center of Excellence of Health Science Coleman College. Williams, a native of North Carolina, has more than 18 years of experience in leadership, management and fundraising in the nonprofit arena, as well as several years of management experience from the corporate and banking industries.
From 2005 to 2013, she worked in the Resource Development Office at Rice University, where her efforts contributed to securing funds for the $1 Billion Centennial Capital Campaign. As a Regional Development Director in Central Development and Director of Development for the School of Humanities, she developed priorities, strategies, internal and external marketing material for the launch of the campaign and led all fundraising activities in the School of Humanities. She also created and implemented a comprehensive strategy targeting diverse alumni and friends to engage with the university through participation and financial support to the campaign.
Prior to joining the Resource Development team at Rice University, she worked with Church World Service (CWS), an inter-faith international humanitarian non-government organization consisting of 36 mainstream denominations in over 80 countries. While at CWS, she held the positions of Major Gift Officer and Planned Giving Associate, and traveled with constituents overseas to view projects. She was credited with raising over $10 million dollars to help with education and advocacy, emergency response, health care, HIV/AIDS, hunger relief, refugees, and water preservation from individual donors, foundations and corporations through grants, major gifts, planned gifts, pledges, and sponsorships.
Williams has utilized and enhanced her talents by serving on the board and committees of local agencies. Currently, she is a past President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Houston Chapter, which has a membership of 700+ fundraisers and financial advisors across the City of Houston. Previously, she served as the Vice President for Professional Advancement and Vice President of Diversity and Community Outreach, and chaired the AFP 2013 Ask the Experts Conference, which provided fundraising education to over 350 fundraisers in the Houston area. She is a past board member of the United Nations Association of Houston Chapter and a current member of the Houston Public Library Foundation. In 2016, Carme was recognized by the Houston Women’s Chamber as a Role Model of STEM.
Williams holds a B.A. degree in business management with a minor in finance from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Certified Fundraising Executive Certificate (CFRE) since 2009.
Co-Founder & CEO at Wisr
As a former first-generation college student, Kate is extremely passionate about improving educational outcomes for college students across the country. After working in Admissions and Career Services for the University of Chicago, Kate became interested in how technology can be used to support student outcomes. She returned to Northeast Ohio as VP of Business Development at DecisionDesk before founding Wisr in 2016.
Kate is heavily involved in Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community as the Chair of the JumpStart Leader’s Council and serving on the DigitalC Fund Advisory Board. Kate was a member of the varsity volleyball team at the University of Chicago, where she received her BA and MBA. She was born and raised in Hartville, OH, but now resides in Rocky River. When she’s not working on building Wisr, Kate is probably practicing yoga, spending time on Lake Erie, playing with her dog, or enjoying good conversation over a glass of wine.
Director of Marketing at Wisr
As Wisr’s Director of Marketing, Anna oversees the company’s digital and in-person marketing strategy. This includes programming design and coordination of the HIGHER summit series and Wisr Academy learning hub.
Prior to joining Wisr, Anna worked in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice. In her work as a human capital consultant, Anna focused on guiding her Fortune 500 clients - and their people - through transformational change. Whether managing enterprise communications, redesigning organizational structures, or developing culture and engagement workshops, her priority has always been to create space for people to be their best at work.
The summit will take place on June 4, 2019 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM in Austin, TX. We'll gather on at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.
We provide all the materials you'll need in addition to a light breakfast, a catered luncheon, and an afternoon snack. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available.
The agendas for HIGHER summits vary to accommodate the special programming unique to each, but most follow the same general format:
8:30 AM — Check in
9:00 AM — Welcome and kickoff
9:30 AM— REFLECT Workshop: gain insights and map your future development through a personal inventory of your defining experiences
11:00 AM — Break
11:15 AM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers
12:00 PM — Lunch and networking
12:45 PM — Introduction to resources
1:00 PM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers
1:45 PM — Break
2:00 PM — ACT Workshop: identify solutions for the top challenges facing women in higher ed through an interactive workshop
3:20 PM — ACT Workshop: design an action plan for reaching your next big career goal
3:50 PM — Resources and feedback
4:00 PM — Closing remarks
This is an event for ambitious leaders, aspiring bosses, tribe-seekers, and community-builders. We welcome women in faculty and staff positions across all departments to join us. Due to high demand, we can only offer seats to women who are currently employed at an institution of higher learning. HIGHER attendees represent a variety of higher education institutions, including liberal arts colleges, research institutions, community colleges, and everything in between.
Yes! In fact, several leaders at a past summit used the event as an opportunity to reconnect with and invite peers they’d met at previous conferences, bond with new team members, and strengthen relationships with leaders across their campuses. To ensure you get the most out of the day, we recommend that your team's VP or Director joins for the day. Anyone who wishes to attend is required to register.
Our goal is to reach as many women in higher education as possible to support them in reaching their professional goals. To help us do that, we ask that if you'd like to attend again, you bring a colleague or peer at another institution who has not attended before.
Absolutely not. We believe that the most impactful development experiences come when you have the chance to build relationships with everyone in the room, talk candidly about the challenges that are keeping you up at night, and brainstorm solutions together. You can’t do that if there are 500 people in the room. Each HIGHER summit is intentionally capped at 50 attendees to allow for that close-knit, collaborative environment.
We believe that women benefit greatly from coming together to share their experiences and lessons. To make HIGHER as accessible as possible, attendance is free for all registrants. Your registration includes programming, resources, and meals for the day.
As a (female-led) company, Wisr spent a lot of time reflecting on the state of higher education leadership. Based on our interactions while bringing Wisr to market, higher ed isn’t reflecting the kind of diverse and inclusive future the world aspires to have. In our work, we consistently see equal representation of women in individual contributor or lower-level managerial roles, but more senior leadership positions often don't reflect that diversity. Women in higher ed administration are facing barriers to rising the ranks in their institutions, and we wanted to do something about it.
Yes! We offer HIGHER to institutions interested in a private professional development for their female faculty and staff. If you're interested in learning more about this offering, email Kate Volzer.