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Established in 2001, the Women of Wisdom Society was formed to bring women in the school community together to share in the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of learning. Each fall, distinguished educators, innovators and professionals visit Loyola Academy to present thought-provoking lectures followed by lively discussions that often continue through lunch. It’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends—and make new ones.

The 2014 WOW lecture series begins on Tuesday, October 7, and continues for three additional weeks. Each morning lecture is followed by a delicious lunch served in the Marillac Room. You may purchase either a two- or four-lecture series, and subscribers also have the option of joining our kick-off bus tour on Tuesday, September 30 (limited to 45 participants).

The series fee is $200 for all four lectures, $125 for two lectures and an additional $65 for the bus tour.

For more information, contact Joan Schniedwind at jschniedwind@loy.org or 847-920-2765 or click on our online brochure. Take advantage of online registration.

Set aside Tuesday mornings in October and be enlightened and entertained at the Women of Wisdom Autumn Lecture Series!


  • September 30
  • October 7
  • October 14
  • October 21
  • October 28
  • Committee

Tuesday, September 30

The Revitalized Chicago River: A Tour of the City's New Recreational Frontier

Motor Coach Tour with lunch and lecture at the Tortoise Club

9:15 a.m. — Motor Coach departs from Loyola Academy
Noon — Lunch and Lecture at the Tortoise Club
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. Please register early to reserve your seat.

Chicago has always been renowned for its scenic lakefront, but the Chicago River has recently been making waves as the focus of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's ongoing, $6 million initiative to transform the polluted and neglected waterway into the city's next "recreational frontier."

Our first destination will be the Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. Landscape architect Ernie Wong, president of the award-winning Site Design Group, will personally guide us through the park and the Ping Tom Boat and Field House, with its outdoor plaza, stone walkway and floating deck offering access to a kayak and canoe launch.

After our tour of Ping Tom, we'll head over to The Tortoise Club, a new eatery nestled next to the House of Blues on the Chicago River. While we relax and eat lunch in the club's plush confines, Betsy Hands, director of outreach and community relations for Friends of the Chicago River, will share her historical perspective on the Chicago River and its continuing ecological and recreational revival.

Next, we'll head north to the Clark Boathouse in Roscoe village, which was designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects to represent the "poetic motion and rhythm of rowing" with its architectural roof form. Designers from Studio Gang will lead us on a private tour of the boathouse, which Chicago Tribune architecture critic, Blair Kamin lauded as a "stunner that befits Chicago's status as the first city of American architecture."

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 jschniedwind@loy.org after September 22 to inquire about availability.

Chicago Victory Gardens, Yesterday and Tomorrow

LaManda Joy
Author, national speaker, master gardener and founder of the Peterson Garden Project


Tuesday, October 7

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

During World War II, more than 20 million Victory Gardens were planted by American families to help prevent a food shortage. By 1944, these Victory Gardens—also called War Gardens—were producing 40 percent of all the vegetables grown in the U.S.

In four short years, Chicagoans planted 1,500 community Victory Gardens—and more than 250,000 of the city’s residents started home gardens as well. Ninety percent of these city dwellers had never gardened before.

In this engaging and media-rich presentation, LaManda Joy will discuss the pivotal role that Chicago played in the Victory Garden movement. She’ll also talk about the resurgence in community food gardening taking place on the city’s North Side through the Peterson Garden Project—a community gardening program that transforms empty urban lots into organic gardens and teaches thousands of people each year how to grow their own food.

We know you’ll be charmed by this delightful presentation by one of urban gardening’s most enthusiastic advocates, whose rallying cry "We can grow it!" celebrates the influences of the past and the American can-do spirit to change the future.

Recognized as the "Best Urban Farmer in Chicago," LaManda Joy is an author, national speaker and master gardener who wants to teach everyone she meets about a better way to eat, a better way to garden and a better way to sustain our natural resources. Inspired by the World War II Victory Garden movement, she founded the Peterson Garden Project in 2010. LaManda has appeared on PBS and other media outlets, spoken at the Library of Congress and shared her passion for urban food gardening at national conferences, garden shows, festivals and libraries. Her upcoming book, Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook, will be released in December 2014.

ARZU Means Hope: Innovation, Empowerment and Risk-Taking to Fight Global Poverty

Connie Duckworth
ARZU founder, social entrepreneur, author and activitist


Tuesday, October 14

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

In early 2003, Connie Duckworth embarked on a fact-finding expedition to gain a firsthand view of the life circumstances of Afghan women in the wake of 9/11. What she encountered there changed her life—and led the intrepid social entrepreneur on a journey that has fortified her faith through service to others and bolstered her belief in the possibility of peace.

Duckworth returned home and founded ARZU, a business with a social mission to transform lives by empowering Afghan women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty through artisan-based fair employment, education and healthcare. This year marks the 10th anniversary of ARZU’s operation in the "world’s worst place to be a woman," with an all-local Afghan staff and hundreds of women artisans.

You won’t want to miss this inspiring story of one woman’s quest to make a difference with a social-benefit business model that has attracted the attention of the U.S. State Department, the Departments of Commerce and Defense, the United Nations and the World Food Program.

Connie Duckworth founded ARZU—which means "hope" in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s two official languages—in 2004. Today, ARZU employs some 700 Afghans; produces award-winning, fair-labor rugs; provides access to education and basic healthcare; and benefits the larger community by operating women’s centers, preschools and parks.

A retired partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs, Duckworth was the first woman to be named a sales and trading partner in the firm’s history. The recipient of numerous awards for leadership, advocacy, social impact and innovation, she holds a BA from the University of Texas and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Balancing the What and the How: The Critical Nature of Effective Leaders and Strong Culture in Business to Drive Results

Mary Dillon
CEO, ULTA Beauty


Tuesday, October 21

Chief Executive Officer, ULTA Beauty

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

Join us for a close look inside corporate leadership and culture as one of Chicago’s key business leaders reflects on the lessons she has learned throughout her accomplished career

As Mary Dillon shares her insights on the critical importance of leadership development and a strong business culture for corporate success, she will draw on her current experience as chief executive officer of ULTA Beauty. Under her strategic direction, ULTA has continued to see robust sales growth, gained momentum in e-commerce and completed the most ambitious annual store-opening program in the company’s history.

Dillon will also share observations from three decades of successful leadership at corporations including U.S. Cellular, McDonald’s Corporation and PepsiCo Corporation and will offer her perspective on the evolution of the retail industry—including the role of both brick and mortar stores and online experiences in modern retailing—as well as ULTA Beauty’s vision for the future.

Mary Dillon serves as chief executive officer of ULTA Beauty, a position she has held since July 2013. Prior to joining ULTA Beauty, Dillon served as president and CEO of U.S. Cellular, global chief marketing officer and executive vice president for McDonald’s Corporation and president of PepsiCo Corporation’s Quaker Foods division. She serves on the boards of Loyola Academy, NorthShore University HealthSystem, World Business Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Executives’ Club of Chicago. The Chicago native earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and Asian studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Reclaiming the Divine Feminine: Re-Reception of the Holy Spirit in the Divine Economy

Paul Pasquesi
PhD candidate in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity and Master of Theology degree, Marquette University


Tuesday, October 28

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

Theologically, God as Trinity transcends gender. Liturgically, God is emphatically and repeatedly treated as masculine. Yet, for centuries, the Holy Spirit was referred to as "Mother," "Queen," "Bride," "Lady," "Midwife," "She" and "Her" in Semitic languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac.

In this intriguing presentation, theological scholar Paul Pasquesi will trace the Divine Feminine back to its earliest formulations and discuss its influence on the early roles of women within the Church. He will also propose the idea of reclaiming the Divine Feminine and discuss its potential to change our current-day debate about the role of women in the contemporary Church.

This lecture also provides resources for ways to explain and describe the Trinity and the role of the Divine in salvation history to a contemporary audience. Accompany this scholar on a theological journey back through time as he acquaints us with the ancient Church theologians and authors who embraced a language and a theology of a God in whose image we are made, both male and female.

Paul Pasquesi is a PhD candidate in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University. His research interests focus on late Second Temple Judaism and its literature (including the Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha) and the impact of these texts on formative Judaism and Christianity, especially Syriac-speaking Christianity, which developed outside of the Roman Empire. He completed his undergraduate degree in religious studies and anthropology at Grinnell College, worked toward a master’s degree in biblical studies at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada, and holds a Master of Theology degree from Marquette University.

2014 WOW Committee

Mimi Brault

Jennifer Gonzalez

Julie Fischer
Director of Special Events

Joan Schniedwind
Special Events Coordinator


Beth Aldrich

Barbara Goschi

Jill Rueth

Gloria Athanis

Loretta Kenny

Donna Suhey

Cathleen Bottini

Danielle Mergner

Amy Thalmann

Pam Cirignani

Tracie Michalek

Ann Waris

Marcia Desmond

Kathy Pappas

Lisa Faremouth Weber

Dawn Dooley

Mary Petit

Jody Weschler

Mary Ellen Fauscone

Mary Ann Quinn

Anne Williams


Mary Rafferty