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Bay Path Hosts 200 Women at Third Annual On the Move Forum

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It’s not often that a room full of people erupts in song, but that’s exactly what happened when women from all over the Springfield area came together to celebrate International Women’s Day at Bay Path University for the third annual On the Move Forum to Advance Women. The event, founded by Bay Path Undergraduate Communications Chair and Assistant Professor Janine Fondon, was designed to celebrate, unite, and inspire women from the community, neighboring businesses and institutions, and Bay Path students, supporters, faculty, and staff to celebrate the work of women from the past, the tenacity of women in the present, and the possibility of women in the future.


Bay Path On the MoveHarvard University’s Barbara Nobles Crawford joined the conversation as the event’s keynote speaker, addressing the United Nations Women’s Day theme: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change. She shared advice and life lessons learned from her vibrant and varied career history, urging the audience to find supportive communities of mentors, champions, and allies, stating “women are the “only” person at the table. It’s lonely for us. I’ve been the first, and I’ve been the only, and I’ve been lonely, and I know what that experience feels like.” She also stated the importance of knowing yourself - your core competencies, skills, and abilities - but to also be open to change. “Keep reinventing yourself,” Nobles Crawford said. “If I stand still, then the rest of the world and all of these opportunities will keep floating around me. Ask, what do I want to do next? Be a committed lifelong learner. It’s not about books. It’s about life. It’s about listening. It’s about growing.”


Sharing the stage throughout the event were several Bay Path students, including a poetry reading by Loren Jones, a video presentation by Andrealis Martinez Padilla, and women’s day proclamations by Bay Path students, Bay Path staff and faculty, including a warm welcome by Dr. Leary and moving remarks from event founder Janine Fondon and facilitator hos Dr. Andrea Hickson, and members of the community committed to advancing and supporting the role of women, including Kristin Leutz, CEO of Valley Venture Mentors, “Power of Women” book editors Joe Carvalho and Wayne Phaneuf, and members from Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, PAHMUSA (Pan African Historical Museum), WGBY, Girls Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


Bay Path On the Move ForumThroughout the event, women gathered together around tables to add their voice to the discussion of issues at the center of women’s rights. Table topics included The Future of Women, Women of Color, Millennial Perspectives, STEM, Business, Media, Education, Politics, Diversity, Pay Equity, and more. The conversations and key take-aways from those discussions were powerful and inspiring. 


“It’s been really empowering to be in a room full of so many strong and inspiring women that have the drive to change the world,” stated Bay Path junior Zoe Naglieri-Prescod. Dr. Ruth Bass Green, a music teacher and retired Minister of Music and Mount Holyoke College Dean, seconded that emotion, stating, “my energy, and my vision for what my work is, has grown much bigger. Every one of us that has attended this event will feel that they have a responsibility to do something, to make a difference in the world. And more than that, each of us know that we can.”


The event ended in an impromptu sing-a-long of “This Little Light of Mine”, with the women in attendance ready to take action, and ready to be on the move. “Women face every day discrimination, still!” preached Nobles Crawford. “Know that you belong, and that you deserve to get to where you want to be, to be what you want to be. Be unapologetic. Get your eye on it. Go after it intentionally.”