Group Info


In 2001, a group of Loyola Academy mothers established the Women of Wisdom Society (WOW) to bring women in the school community together to share in the pursuit of knowledge and the life of the mind. Every year since then, we've sought out some of the area's most distinguished and visionary professionals, educators, entrepreneurs and innovators for a Tuesday morning lecture and lunch series that's lively, entertaining, sometimes provocative and always enlightening.

If you've never experienced our lecture and lunch series, why not start a new autumn tradition that will broaden your horizons and change the way you think about the world? After each Tuesday morning lecture, join us for a catered lunch and conversation with friends old and new.

This year, we are going green! Our Fall Lecture Series information and registration form are now available online only. Please register now—these events will sell out.

For more information, contact Joan Schniedwind at or 847-920-2765.


  • Sep 22
  • Sep 29
  • Oct 13
  • Oct 27
  • Nov 10
  • News
  • Committee

Tuesday, September 22

Seeking Justice: How History's Lessons Shape Our Actions Today

A tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, followed by a lunch and lecture at the Happ Inn.
Tour guide and lecturer: Rev. Nicholas Greanias
Professor of Foreign Policy at Loyola University and Former Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State

9:15 a.m. — Motor Coach departs from Loyola Academy
10:00 a.m. — Arrive at the Illinois Holocaust Museum
12:15 p.m. — Lunch and lecture at the Happ Inn
2:30 p.m. — Motor Coach arrives back at Loyola Academy

TOUR FEE: $65 for WOW subscribers who register for the two- or four-lecture series. Please note that the motor coach tour is not available as a stand-alone event.

Limited to 45 participants. Register early to reserve your seat.

Join us for a journey into the past as we explore themes of survival, religious strength, redemption and justice surrounding some of history's great human tragedies.

Your guide for the day will be Rev. Nicholas Greanias, a Greek Orthodox priest and professor of foreign policy at Loyola University. Before we leave to visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Fr. Greanias will provide an historical overview of key conflicts occurring in Europe and other parts of the world prior to World War II and discuss religious tensions and conflicts in Cambodia, Rwanda and Armenia, as well as Germany.

After we arrive at the museum, we will separate into small groups to view several exhibits that address themes of persecution, strength, resistance and justice. We will tour the museum's permanent exhibits on Germany during Hitler's reign, as well as an exhibit detailing the current effort to bring the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge to justice for their crimes in Cambodia in the late 1970s. Before leaving the museum, we will spend some time at the Legacy of Absence Gallery, which focuses on contemporary artistic responses to genocides and other atrocities, including Cambodia, Rwanda, Argentina and the Soviet Gulag.

Following our museum visit, we will depart for the Happ Inn, where we will gather for lunch in a private dining room. During our luncheon, Fr. Greanias will discuss what we learned from the museum's exhibits and talk about current religious conflicts and what we can do about them. He will also raise questions about the impact of U.S. foreign policy on Christians in the Middle East, how religion continues to play a role in defense and security issues, what options we have to prevent future tragedies and genocides and what we have learned from the past that will help us transform the future by fostering the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.

Rev. Nicholas Greanias spent his undergraduate years at Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University-Chicago, earned his law degree from St. Louis University and served as a military attorney in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps from 1979 to 1986. After his return to civilian life, he practiced law in Chicago and then joined the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer. After foreign service assignments in Toronto, Canada, and Bucharest, Romania, Greanias returned to the United States to serve as the Ukraine desk officer and political officer for the United Nations in Washington, DC. He taught at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, before his next overseas post in Athens, Greece. In 2007, he moved to Auckland, New Zealand, to serve as the United States consul for New Zealand. While stationed in Auckland, he fulfilled his longtime calling to serve God and was ordained a Greek Orthodox priest. In 2011, Fr. Nicholas retired from the foreign service and returned home to his native Illinois, where he currently serves in the Chicago Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and teaches foreign policy at Loyola University Chicago.

Bring a guest if space permits: Motor coach tour participants are invited to bring a guest for $65 if seats are still available one week prior to the tour date. Please contact Joan Schniedwind at 847.920.2765 or after September 15 to inquire about availability.

Change of Heart: A Murder Victim's Family Member on Justice, Mercy and Redemption

Jeanne Bishop
Author, Activist, Attorney and Adjunct Professor at the Northwestern University School of Law


Tuesday, September 29

9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

In April 1990, Jeanne Bishop's 25-year-old sister, Nancy, her sister's husband and their unborn child were shot to death by a deeply disturbed teenager. As she lay dying, Nancy left a last message of love: the shape of a heart and the letter "u" scrawled in her own blood. When the killer was arrested, he denied responsibility for the murders and showed no remorse.

After the murders of her family members, Jeanne Bishop's life was thrown into turmoil and her faith was deeply shaken. Determined to forgive the killer and then forget him, she became a public defender, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment and a supporter of the sentence that her sister's juvenile killer had received: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Then she met a law professor who handed her a book that ultimately challenged her to move beyond forgiveness to something much more difficult: personal reconciliation.

You will be deeply touched by Bishop's journey, which is the subject of her new book Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer (Westminster John Knox Press, March 2015). Described by author John Grisham as "a tragic story of senseless violence, horrific loss and, in the end, forgiveness that is astonishing," Bishop's memoir movingly documents her change of heart from supporting life imprisonment for her sister's killer to visiting him in prison.

Please join us for this unforgettable and profoundly spiritual presentation as Bishop reflects on justice, mercy and the role of forgiveness and redemption in our lives and in the criminal justice system.

Since the murder of her family members, Jeanne Bishop has traveled around the globe to advocate for gun violence prevention, the abolition of the death penalty and the exoneration of the innocent. She has also spoken widely about the role of victims in the criminal justice system and the role of faith in the debate over executions. Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Christian Century, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and other publications, as well as on She has been featured in several documentary films, including Too Flawed to Fix, Deadline and The Innocent. A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and School of Law, Bishop also attended Yale Law School as a visiting student. She currently defends the indigent as a felony trial attorney in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender and serves as an adjunct professor at the Northwestern University School of Law. She is a recipient of the Northwestern University School of Law's alumni award for public service and Concern Worldwide's Brigid Award, which recognizes women whose daily lives and work reflect justice, generosity and compassion.

Becoming a Values-Based Leader

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.
Executive Partner at Madison-Dearborn Partners and Clinical Professor of Management and Strategy at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management


Tuesday, October 13

9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

Is it possible to "do the right thing" while delivering outstanding and lasting results as a business leader? Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.'s answer is an emphatic yes. "When leaders and organizations are grounded in a values-based approach," writes the Kellogg School of Management professor, former Baxter International CEO and best-selling author, "everyone can benefit."

Kraemer's assessment is based on personal experience. A smart, hardworking finance whiz who met every earnings target and quadrupled Baxter International's stock price during his climb to the top of the C-suite, he realized along the way that self-reflection is critical to values-based leadership and is as important to business success as minding the company's balance sheet.

In this dynamic presentation that draws on Kraemer's global experience as the chairman and CEO of Baxter International, you will be introduced to the four principles that guide leaders to make choices that honor their values. You'll also learn how self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence and genuine humility can affect your actions and the decisions that you make as a leader in your organization.

This lively and engaging lecture and discussion is a must for anyone aspiring to become a better leader and a better human being.

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. is an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in the United States, and a clinical professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He is the author of two best-selling books: From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership and Becoming the Best: Building a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership. Active in business, education and civic affairs, Kraemer serves on the board of directors for Catamaran Corporation, Leidos Corporation, Sirona Dental Systems and Sage Products Inc. A trustee at Northwestern University, The Conference Board and NorthShore University Healthsystem and serves on the Archdiocese of Chicago Finance Committee and School Board. He is a member of the Dean's Global Advisory Board of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Economics Club of Chicago. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mathematics and economics from Lawrence University of Wisconsin and holds an MBA in finance and accounting from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Capturing the Universal Human Spirit: A Photographic Journey Around the World

Alison Wright
Award-winning Photojournalist, National Geographic Contributing Photographer and Author


Tuesday, October 27

9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

See the world through the lens of award-winning contributing National Geographic contributing photographer Alison Wright in this engrossing presentation that chronicles Wright's extraordinary career circumnavigating the globe to document human rights issues and endangered cultures through her photography and writing.

You'll also learn about the bus accident in Laos that nearly ended Wright's life and career, her excruciating recovery and her dogged determination to continue traveling the world as an intrepid photojournalist. You won't want to miss this inspirational story of courage and fortitude, which is the subject of Wright's memoir Learning to Breathe: One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival (Plume, 2009).

Wright will also talk about her mission to combine her photography with philanthropy through The Faces of Hope Fund, which she established in 2009 to address urgent humanitarian needs in impoverished countries throughout the world. Among its many projects, her foundation has provided tents for survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, funded a mobile medical unit for Burmese refugees in Thailand and children's health programs in the Middle East, supported the liberation of Nepalese girls from lives of indentured servitude, sent girls to school in India, strengthened communities on the Tibetan Plateau and helped deliver medical supplies to the Kasi Clinic in Laos to pay back the community that saved her life after the bus crash. While on assignment documenting relief efforts after the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, she donated thousands of dollars through The Faces of Hope Fund to purchase tents for survivors and support children orphaned by the quake.

Alison Wright, a New York-based social documentary photographer, has traveled to 150 countries during a career that has spanned more than two decades. She was recently named as a National Geographic Traveler of the Year, a designation that recognizes individuals who have an exceptional story to tell and represent a style of travel, motivation or method that can inform and inspire us all. A recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography for her images of child labor in Asia, she is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. Wright was celebrated as one of the Most Compelling Women in the Travel Industry in 2014 by Premier Traveler magazine. Through her visual storytelling, she has documented the lives of children in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the work of a multitude of aid organizations, including CARE, The Children's Defense Fund, Save the Children, SEVA and UNICEF. Her images have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including American Photo, Forbes, Islands, National Geographic magazine, The New York Times, Outside, the San Francisco Chronicle and TIME. She has photographed/authored nine books, including The Spirit of Tibet: Portrait of a Culture in Exile (1998), Faces of Hope: Children of a Changing World (2003) and Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit (2013). Wright completed her undergraduate degree in photojournalism at Syracuse University and her master's degree in visual anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley.

Remaking Illinois: What Will it Take to Make Our State Great Again?

Ted Dabrowski
Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute


Tuesday, November 10

9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

Open up the newspaper, turn on the local news or listen in as disgruntled citizens sound off on the train, on the bus and on the street. Illinois has gained a reputation as a state that no longer works—characterized by corruption, cronyism and mismanaged budgets. Unemployment is high and job creation is low. Illinois has gone from one of the best states in which to do business to one of the worst.

The fallout? Illinois businesses are fleeing the state at record rates in search of better opportunities. Over the past 15 years, 800,000 residents have also left Illinois—a loss of one taxpayer every 10 minutes—and they've taken billions in taxable income with them.

Can this trend be reversed? Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan are all making the reforms necessary to turn around their economies and create prosperity. Can—and should—Illinois follow their example?

Ted Dabrowski believes that Illinois can once again become the economic powerhouse and the land of opportunity that it once was. In this engrossing presentation, he will talk about the policy decisions that precipitated the state's economic crisis and discuss the fiscal and policy measures that are needed to reboot the state's economy and get Illinois back on track. If you've ever wondered what it will take to transform Illinois from one of the worst-run states in America to a place where individuals and businesses can thrive, this lecture is for you.

Ted Dabrowski is vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, where he develops and recommends solutions to the state's economic and fiscal problems with a focus on Illinois budget and tax policy, health care, pension reform, education policy and job creation. A frequent commentator on television and radio and has written extensively on economic and budgetary issues for Forbes magazine, The Huffington Post and other media. Prior to joining the Illinois Policy Institute, Dabrowski spent 16 years in international management with Citigroup in Mexico and Poland. In his most recent role with Citibank, he managed the corporate and investment banking division for Citibank-Handlowy, Citibank's majority-owned bank in Poland. At Citibank Mexico, he oversaw various units of the bank's sales and trading operations. Dambrowski is a graduate of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and holds an MBA in finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an undergraduate degree in industrial management from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

2015 WOW Committee

Jennifer Gonzalez

Danielle Mergner

Sophie Streeter
Director of Special Events

Joan Schniedwind
Special Events Coordinator


Gloria Athanis

Kathleen Harwood

Jill Rueth

Mimi Brault

Loretta Kenny

Andra Starshak

Pam Cirignani

Tracie Michalek

Amy Thalmann

Sally Dancer

Jennifer O'Shaughnessy

Ann Waris

Dawn Dooley

Kathy Pappas

Lisa Faremouth Weber

Barbara Goschi

Mary Petit

Jody Weschler

Beth Hartmann

Mary Rafferty

Anne Williams