Get to know some of our incredible women!

Whitney Blackwell '11

Who is your (S)HERO? My mother. She has made me the strong, independent and opinionated person I am today. She always told me I could do whatever I wanted, and because of this, I continue to reach higher. 

One thing about yourself that would surprise most people? People would be surprised at the amount I read. I am always trying to learn to do something new and for example am now reading up on tarot card reading. You can never have too many hobbies.

Why are you involved with the Women in Philanthropy group? I had such a positive experience at Saint Mary's during my undergraduate studies, that I wanted to continue to be involved. Through to Women in Philanthropy group, I also have a chance to give back to the college while interacting with some amazing professionals and leaders.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Growing up, I always wanted to be the first female President of the United States. Since we have not had one yet, I guess that still up for grabs. I currently aspire to own a Contemporary Art Gallery focusing on San Francisco area art.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my worldly outlook on life from my extensive traveling and the degree I received in History. It is what helps me keep things in context in my professional and personal life.

What does Philanthropy mean to you? Philanthropy means doing my part to enhance the quality of life for someone else.

Why should others get involved? Others should get involved because, as alumnae, we see how important our education from Saint Mary's is, and should give others the same opportunity we had through scholarships and other types of support.

Liz Phelan '92

Who is your (S)HERO? My shero is Mother Teresa.  She was a true humanitarian and an incredible advocate for the rights of the poor and helpless. 

One thing about yourself that would surprise most people? The one thing about myself that would surprise most people is that I love to go to the rodeo.

Why are you involved with the Women in Philanthropy group? I am involved with the Women in Philanthropy group because I feel that it is time for me to give back.  Saint Mary's gave me the opportunity to obtain an incredible education.  That education has opened so many doors for me in my life.  I want to help others get those same chances.

What do you want to be when you grow up? When I grow up I want to be a Business woman.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my education and my family.  

What does Philanthropy mean to you? Philanthropy to me means giving.  Not just financially, but also using my experiences to help others.                 

Why should others get involved? Those of us who attended Saint Mary's know what an incredible opportunity attending Saint Mary's is. The education as well as the life lessons learned affect every aspects of our lives.  Being able to help others obtain a Saint Mary's education is a wonderful way to give back. The Women in Philanthropy group is instrumental in providing opportunity's for students by raising money for scholarships and providing role models for our students futures.  

Cindy CooperCindy Neander Cooper '96

Who is your (S)HERO? Laura Tyson - economist and former Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. As a child, I remember listening to Laura Tyson on TV. Her speech introduced me to macroeconomic theory, and it made sense. More importantly, though, Laura Tyson was my first memory of an educated and strong female leader that I aspired to become.

One thing about yourself that would surprise most people? Most people are surprised to hear that I am an intravert. While I enjoy the energy of a crowd, I find strength and rest in quiet moments at  home.

Why are you involved with the Women in Philanthropy group? To encourage alumnae to take an active role in discussions about philanthropy, beginning in their own homes.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Uplifting. I would like to be in a position where I can improve the lives of others.

What are you most proud of? The work/life balance that I and so many women are able to experience today, providing opportunities to further our careers while also pursuing interests outside of the office.

What does Philanthropy mean to you? Thoughtful giving of time and financial resources to the causes that matter most to you.

Why should others get involved? Education provides new opportunities for young men and women. As SMC alumnae, we should give to scholarships, the library, the arts, sports, or other areas of campus life that inspire us.

Rena DeNigris Fischer '99

Who is your (S)HERO? My mother. She is the most caring, understanding and compassionate woman I have ever known. Her strength of character inspires me and her ability to love unconditionally humbles me.

One thing about yourself that would surprise most people? When I was younger, I tap danced for many years. Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Shuffle off the Buffalo... And all of that good stuff! Good times at Miss Carol's Dance Studio.

Why are you involved with the Women in Philanthropy group? I love this group of women. They are intelligent, caring, compassionate, creative, giving, loving and a lot of fun! We have a common bond and passion for the college, particularly the wonderful women of Saint Mary's and we want to share this passion and energy to help support, network, and encourage other Women at Saint Mary's.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I am not sure yet, so I guess I am still on that journey.

What are you most proud of? My family and friends. They are wonderful people that I am proud to say I have had the privilege of being a part of their lives. I find that you can always tell a person's strength of character by the family and friends they keep. I am proud of mine and I think I will keep them.

What does Philanthropy mean to you? It means that you are in a constant state of giving, truly giving.... of your time, talent and treasures.  

Wendy Nieto

Who is your (S)HERO?  Sally Ride for defying stereotypes and being the first American woman sent into outer space.   I also admire her continued efforts to encourage our young women to enter the field of math and science.  

One thing about yourself that would surprise most people?  I have a very large white messy dog named Milo.

Why are you involved with the Women in Philanthropy group?  It is a great opportunity to meet and work with great ladies while supporting others along the way.  We have all needed help at some point in our lives and it is nice to return the favor. 

What do you want to be when you grow up? A Great Mom and a Successful Entrepreneur

What are you most proud of? My two beautiful children

What does Philanthropy mean to you?  Reaching out to others in a variety of ways to accelerate positive change and enrich others.

Why should others get involved?  The power of many women uniting behind a cause is an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.   Being part of the Women in Philanthropy is a wonderful way to help others, stay connected to the College, and build new friendships.  

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