Mantella honored as one of West Michigan's most influential women
President Philomena V. Mantella was one of 50 women honored March 10 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal at its 50 Most Influential Women event in West Michigan.
As the first woman president at Grand Valley, Mantella is leading the fourth largest university in the state. She also has a strong commitment to more opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups.
The event held at GLC Live at 20 Monroe in Grand Rapids honored women across industries of academia, nonprofit, healthcare, law, business, financial and media. Shelley Irwin, host and producer of The Morning Show on WGVU, was also an honoree at the event.
More than 240 nominations were submitted to the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and honorees were selected based on community engagement and leadership and mentoring qualities.
Eileen Pollack, author and former director of the MFA program at the University of Michigan, delivered the keynote address to an audience of more than 500 people.
“One of the most amazing aspects of the women’s movement has been how supportive we have learned to be of each other,” said Pollack. “The media sometimes portrayed our differences or our infighting, when in reality we wouldn’t have affected such momentous change in the world in such a short time if we women hadn’t achieved such powerful unity.”
And yet in conducting interviews for her book, “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club,” Pollack explained she found there were generational differences between women in STEM fields. The older generation may see younger women as lazy and entitled, while the younger generation may not appreciate older women’s experiences.
“There’s still so much work to be done to make this society fair and humane for everyone,” said Pollack. “We can choose to jump on one another for the slightest infraction or roll our eyes at one another, or we can try to understand other peoples’ realities and help our coworkers understand our own.”
“Maybe we can assume the best in one another, choose to support one another and choose to reach across all sorts of divides and make each others’ lives as rich and full as possible."