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Category Archives: Women’s Leadership

Christine Ward, founder of The Darfur Project, to talk about how women, girls, and entrepreneurship can change the world

By: Amanda Leff Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist
April 18, 2012

PITTSBURGH (April 18, 2012) … The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University (CWE) will host the founder of the Darfur Project Christine Ward as part of its Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series on Friday, May 11, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the James Laughlin Music Center on the University’s Shadyside Campus. Ward is a renowned social entrepreneur, known for being ambitious and persistent, tacking major social issues, and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.

Ward is the founder and CEO of Rockflower, an organization which seeks to connect large funders in developed nations with organizations investing in women and girls in underdeveloped nations to address some of the world’s economic and social challenges. In a presentation titled “Social Entrepreneurs: How women and girls can solve economic and social challenges,” Ward will discuss her path to creating Rockflower, which focuses on maternal and reproductive health, safety and security, education, economic empowerment, and access to water and food.

While at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative (as the founder and CEO of The Darfur Project, which has provided $17 million in medical relief to the area to date), Ward became interested in the idea of long-term investment funds to allow capital to support the improvements in livelihoods. Subsequently, she spent three years consulting experts in the fields of social investment, disaster relief, government, education, and health as she discovered how she could help women and girls achieve lives of fulfillment and prosperity.

The $25 admission fee includes a continental breakfast and networking session, which precede the presentation. A question and answer session will follow Ward’s presentation. For more information and to register, visit or call 412-365-1253.

About the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship
The mission of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) at Chatham University is to educate, create economic opportunities, and foster entrepreneurial thinking for women entrepreneurs, women in business, and students. The CWE provides opportunities for women entrepreneurs in both new development and growth stages of their businesses to start, develop and significantly grow their companies by utilizing Chatham resources, programs, faculty expertise, and student assistance. CWE also provides programming targeted to local and regional women in business designed to teach women in business how to think and act entrepreneurially by focusing on innovation and creativity within the context of an existing organizational environment. Current and initial funding for CWE provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Initial funding for CWE was provided by the Lois Tack Thompson Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. For more information about programs offered by CWE, call 412-365-1253 or visit

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit

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Into the Furnace: Chatham lecturer encourages writers to harness Braddock’s creative energy

Sherrie Flick

Inspiring creativity through the visceral energy of Braddock, Pa., is the idea behind a new writer-in-residence program, organized in part by Sherrie Flick, a lecturer in Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program and artistic director of Gist Street Reading Series.

Braddock’s atmosphere and ongoing revitalization efforts seem like the right environment for creative production, says Sherrie.

Sherrie, along with John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock; Jeb Feldman, owner and co-manager of Braddock artist haven Unsmoke; and others, collaborated to turn a two-room suite in the former St. Michael’s parochial school convent into a breeding ground for the art of the written word. “The residency is about giving one writer the gift of time,” says Sherrie. “Time to write.”

Named for its proximity to active steel mill Edgar Thomson Steel Works, “Into the Furnace” is a molten opportunity for writers.

“The name of the program also references Thomas Bell’s amazing book Out of This Furnace, so it’s a play on words in a couple different directions,” says Sherrie.

Braddock already has a supportive writers’ community, says Sherrie. It is home to the Biblipolis writer-in-residence Eliza Griswold and has several writer studios in UnSmoke, a gallery/events venue with classrooms and artist studio space—housed in a repurposed Catholic school building. “We thought we could help cultivate a community that was already in place,” says Sherrie.

Josh Barkan is the inaugural writing resident. He is the author of the short-story collection Before Hiroshima and the novel Blind Speed, which was named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Fiction Prize. Josh was awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has taught writing at Harvard, New York University, and Boston University.

“Braddock is a place full of contrasts—the old machinery of industry, against the new mosaics and murals of arts revitalization; the beautiful detail of brick on structures that have been abandoned and fallen apart; the positive energy of youth service programs and of AmeriCorps and many other social service groups with the tough poverty the children in the community are born into,” says Josh.

“All of these contrasts heighten my awareness of my surroundings—a sense of place—that is so necessary for writing well. What I see more clearly is the history of the city, the strong effort of the mayor John Fetterman, Sherrie Flick, Jeb Feldman, and many others to bring positive experiences to the Braddock community,” continues Josh.

Much of Josh’s childhood was spent abroad, living in Kenya, Tanzania, France, and India. After attending Yale University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, he spent a year teaching in Japan and received his Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His writing has appeared in Esquire, and he is a contributor to The Boston Book Review. Most recently, he called New York City and Mexico City home.

“Josh is a perfect fit for the program,” says Sherrie. “He’s lived all over the world and so has learned, I think, to adapt to his surroundings, to see and appreciate beauty in the unlikely.”

“I find Braddock exciting because of the freedom there,” says Josh. “There’s a sense of being in a place where you can try whatever kind of artistic creation you want. Nothing is censored and there is no preconceived outcome. There is a strong willingness to experiment in Braddock, a willingness to try anything as long as it is done with passion, intelligence, and with genuine quality.”

There is currently no application process for the writer-in-residence program. Sherrie and Marc Nieson, assistant professor in Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, collaborated to articulate the kind of writer that would be a good fit. They decided the opportunity is best suited for someone mid-career “who would enjoy and embrace the pioneering sense of adventure that Braddock has to offer,” says Sherrie.

Sherrie is pleased with how the residency is unfolding, and though the future of “Into the Furnace” is unwritten, Sherrie notes the residence does have enough space to expand in years to come.