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Women & Engineering hosts successful Leadership Society Summit

While Women & Engineering has been working for several years to bring together women Engineering students and alumnae, the organization hosted its first Leadership Society Summit in April to strengthen those relationships and to provide the opportunity to form new ones.

L to R: Cheryl Perlmutter, Polly Shrewsbury, Katie Johnson, Mariah Gratz and Emily Boyd

Women & Engineering is an organization for engineering alumnae from Washington University in St. Louis to support each other; inspire and mentor women students; and help shape the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Its summit, held April 7 at the Knight Center, hosted about 70 students, alumnae, faculty, staff and guests for a day-long series of presentations, workshops and breakout sessions with alumnae designed to present a variety of perspectives on entrepreneurship, engineering careers and other topics.

The alumnae speakers were:

  • Abby Cohen, BS ’13, co-founder and co-CEO of Sparo Labs;
  • Katie Johnson, BS ’10, senior user experience researcher, EchoUser;
  • Cheryl Perlmutter, BS ’00, PMBA ’05, senior manager of sourcing at Edward Jones;
  • Polly Shrewsbury, BS ’95, COO of FourLeaf and founder of Pollyseon;
  • Mariah Gratz, BS ’02, CEO of Weyland Ventures

Michele Anderson, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, welcomed guests to the summit and said it was the most valuable event she has attended at WashU so far.

“My biggest takeaway from this experience was how important it is to not only take risks in your career, but to be forward in demanding to be treated as an equal in the workplace and if that isn't happening, taking the risk to leave for somewhere else where that will happen is worth it,” she said. “It was inspiring to share a space with such empowering women and be able to focus on the unique challenges facing women in STEM fields, how to succeed despite these challenges, and how affect change to the system that creates these challenges.”

Libby Allman, BS ’91, vice president, manufacturing and global procurement for Hallmark Cards Inc., presented at a dinner April 6 for about 45 students, alumnae, faculty, staff and guests. Other alumnae present were Nathalie de Vos Burchart, BS ’04, managing partner of Heathwood Enterprises Ltd., who introduced Allman; Jan Holloway, MS ’83, senior vice president, chief of staff and community relations at Monsanto Co., and Jennifer Finney, BS ’98, assistant director, career development – Engineering, at WashU.


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 94 tenured/tenure-track and 28 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 20,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.