Invitation from The Sunflower Initiative

You may have noticed articles and updates we occasionally share from The Sunflower Initiative. But did you know that group formed in response to Randolph-Macon Women’s College going coed? As we explore ways that our two groups of former women’s college alumnae may work together, TSI would like to personally invite all Chatham College Alumnae to learn more about their mission and join their mailing list.

If you are interesting in participating in the ongoing discussion, please send Sarah Stulga a message!

September 30, 2014

Dear Chatham College Alumnae,

Seven years ago we experienced all the anguish, outrage and frustration that you are suffering now as you try to process the fact that Chatham College, the women’s college that you revere, has disappeared despite your vigorous protests. In 2007 Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, the women’s college that we revered, also disappeared despite our vigorous protests. Our college was renowned for its spectacular collection of American art and to our horror, the trustees who oversaw termination of RMWC also undertook the sale of masterpieces from the College’s art collection to finance their initiative to found the coed Randolph College in its place. We fought back hard against both decisions, raising money to initiate two lawsuits and taking them to the Virginia Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we lost.

After a period of mourning and exhaustion, some RMWC alumnae decided to regroup. This group of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College alumnae, having experienced the profound influence of a woman’s college education in their own lives, established The Sunflower Initiative. The mission of TSI is to offer scholarships to young women to attend women’s colleges. To date TSI has underwritten three first-year students with a $10,000 renewable award—the Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship—in honor of Harriet Fitzgerald, a 1928 graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a distinguished artist and intellectual. For those of us volunteering for The Sunflower Initiative and for those who support it financially, we have an outlet for expressing our profound gratitude for our women’s college educations, and for taking steps to ensure that the choice of a women’s college education remains for young women today.

Go to to find out more about us. After you do, we hope you many want to join The Sunflower Initiative.

We thank Sandy Kuritzky c/o ’73 and Sarah Stulga c/o ‘08 for our recent conversation about ways our two groups might collaborate.  We will be speaking with them in another month or so. If you would like to explore joining The Sunflower Initiative, let them know of your interest.

All the best,

Elizabeth Gordon McCrodden, RMWC ’66

Helen Brooks Regan, RMWC ‘66


Signatures Requested for Letter to Editor

On September 29th, posted an article originally sourced from a website called The Hechinger Report. The article highlighted the fight against the Wilson College co-ed decision, but also commented on Chatham’s decision. In that article, Bill Campbell, VP of Communications and Marketing for Chatham, is quoted as saying the decision to go co-ed at Chatham wasn’t controversial [like Wilson]. We disagree.

In response to this misrepresentation, we have drafted a letter to the editor that will be sent both to the and The Hechinger Report to let them know that Chatham’s decision was indeed controversial and that we, as alumnae, still disagree with Chatham’s decision as well as the way in which the decision was presented, made, and alumnae relations were soured purposefully over many months.

We have included the text of our letter below, including the signatures already gathered from supportive alumnae. If you would like to add your name to this letter, please do so either through comments here or on our corresponding Facebook post.

Here is the link to the original article. 

Dear Editor,

In your September 29 article, “Why Women’s Colleges are Opening the Door for Men,” it was suggested that “At Chatham University, the decision to admit men was much less controversial” than the decision by Wilson College to become a coeducational institution. Chatham’s administration continues to believe that the opposition to their decision was limited to a “small, but passionate, group of alumnae,” but the momentum the Save Chatham movement built in a short time proves otherwise.

The Save Chatham movement, consisting of more than 2,100 alumnae and supporters, launched on social media just hours after alumnae and current students received an email from Chatham announcing the resolution. Save Chatham’s mission brought these women together to brainstorm ways to fundraise, increase enrollment, and to continue to provide future generations of women the option to become World Ready Women at Chatham. The short-term mission of Save Chatham quickly changed to focusing on delaying the June vote as Chatham’s administration increasingly disrespected and disregarded alumnae and refused to have open and honest discussions.

Chatham’s administration, particularly President Esther Barazzone, has unsuccessfully attempted to make this decision “much less controversial.” During the town hall meetings in March, Dr. Barazzone dismissed alumnae lines of questioning and obfuscated the facts when she did not want to answer questions. She rejected outright many of the solutions offered by alumnae, giving many alumnae the impression that the decision already had been made, a belief that was strengthened when promotional materials for the decision and its tenets were made public immediately after the vote. Peaceful protests on campus on April 23 resulted in alumnae being threatened with arrest and escorted off-campus by campus security. On May 1, the day of the Board of Trustees vote, alumnae, current students, and supporters were corralled into a “Free Speech Zone” by the very institution that taught many of us how to use our voices to stand up for what we believe to be right. Following the vote in favor of a coed Chatham, Save Chatham transitioned to the Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association in order to provide a safe space for alumnae to process the decision while still identifying with the former college. When it became clear that the new alumnae group would not be disbanding, Chatham University issued “cease & desist” letters to Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association administrators and threatened legal action if the group did not immediately discontinue using the name “Chatham” in its title, further alienating alumnae.

The Save Chatham/Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association lives on today as the Filiae Nostrae Society (FNS). The name is derived from the Chatham College motto “Filiae nostrae sicut antarii lapides: that our daughters may be as cornerstones.” The FNS provides disenfranchised alumnae of Chatham College for Women a place to call home and gives alumnae an opportunity to network, to shine the spotlight on them and their successes, to support institutions that value a women’s-only environment, to reinvigorate former relationships and to build new ones with women from former and current women’s colleges – all part of alumnae engagement that Chatham abandoned long before the vote.

Additional information, including documentation supporting the information outlined above, can be found at or Save Chatham’s Facebook page. Information about the Filiae Nostrae Society can be found at


The Filiae Nostrae Society and supporting alumnae:


Rebecca G. Varno, Class of 1998

Kathleen A. Ferraro, Class of 1972

Koran Gurcak-Bragg, Class of 1997

Elaine Matthews Cappiello, Class of 1996

Crystal L. Fleming, Class of 1996

Jessica Bodnar McConnell, Class of 1998

Jenifer L Harris, Class of 1996 and 2003

Amy Burgess LaSota, Class of 1998

Amber Keech-Straley, Class of 2005

Alexa New, Class of 2008

Cait McCabe, Class of 2009

Krystle Bates, Class of 2006

Rachel A. Lunsford, Class of 2007

Kristan Buck Ferguson, Class of 2000 and 2005

Rebecca Snyder Halligan, Class of 2006

Rebekah Heilman, Esq. Class of 2000

Kelly McKown, Class of 2002

Tricia Chicka, Class of 2005

Autumn Secrest, Class of 2005

Amy Kay, Class of 2000

Lori King, Class of 1999

Heather Shirey, Class of 1999

Amy Loveridge, Class of 2003

Emily Newport Woodward, 1990

Christina Petrauskis Mars, Class of 2000

Charity Pitcher-Cooper, Class of

Nicole A. Hagan, Class of 2007

Rachel M. Lenzi, Class of 1998

Kimberly Perez, Class of 1994

Emily Lamison Stimmel, Class of 2003 and 2009

Jackie Spycher, Class of 2001

Teresa Cox Mihalsky, Class of 1999

Amanda Morin, Class of 2002

Amanda Newport Ippolito, Class of 2002

Stephanie Swift-Antill, Class of 2001

Audra M. Deemer, Class of 1999

Amber Boucher Keer, Class of 2003

Dina Wilson Youtz, Class of 2001

Maegan Paradise Schmidt, Class of 1999

Julie Wichterman Rotelli, Class of 1998

Kelly Rabenstein Donohoe, Class of 2000 and 2013

Lisandra Rodriguez White, Class of 1999

Erin Williams Duncan, Class of 2000

Teresa Cox Mihalsky, Class of 1999

Amber Christie, Class of 2007

Erin Braunstein Hubbard, Class of 1999

Tillie Eze, Class of 2009

Amy Hanna Engle, Class of 1997

Vanessa N. Thompson, Class of 2012

Nancy Taylor, Class of 2005

Sarah Stulga, Class of 2008

Michele L. Agosti, Class of 2001

Evelyn Mann, Class of 2009

Sally Davoren, Class of 1972

Nancy Chubb, PhD, MBA, Class of 1973

Angela Pinizzotto, Class of 1998

Jaya Lakshminarayanan, Class of 2000

Sarah Barr, Class of 1998

Amy Donahue Benet, Class of 2000

Sheila Confer, Class of 1994

Joyce Mallilo Calderone, Class of 2007 and 2008

Bethany Fulton, Class of 1995

Laura Strauss, Class of 2005

Jennifer Wichterman Kouznetsova, Class of 2003

Christy Diulus, Class of 1996

Christy Dennison, Class of 1999

Marisa A. Klages-Bombich, Class of 1998

Amanda K. Nedley, Class of 1999

Michele Davies Turner, Class of 2002

Kathy Crookston Curran, Class of 1983

Julie Baggs, Class of 1998

You Spoke, We Listened!


Yesterday we asked how you would like to see the Filiae Nostrae Society start to build the network we envision, and you gave us some great responses. So, to build on that, we’re offering a couple of suggestions for easy things you can do today. As we continue to build the organization, we’ll continue to bring you ways to stay involved not only with your FNS sisters, but with other women’s colleges and their alumnae as well!



If you haven’t seen it, an article was posted on Inside Higher Ed last week talking about potential changes at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. While the article states that the college has no current intention to go co-ed, it is rexamining its liberal arts focus, and plans on launching two new schools this fall under the umbrella of the larger college. As FNS sisters, we’ve seen this playbook before, and while co-ed might not be on the table now, it could be in the future.

Action Item: Send a letter (or email or Facebook message) to Mary Baldwin College, expressing your support of the women’s college and the education it provides. Let them know that women’s college alumnae do not want to see another institution abandoning a mission it has held dear for so long.



While the FNS is not yet capable of collecting funds for dispersal to other women’s colleges or students who might be attending them in the form of scholarships (suggestions we’ve received), we absolutely CAN encourage our alumnae to support women’s colleges on their own for right now (and in the future). In fact, today is a good day to do that!

Action Item: Make a donation to a women’s college of your choice. We know everyone’s financial situation is different, but if you’re able, make a $14.50 donation (you can add any extra zeros or amount you like) in honor of Chatham College for Women’s 145-year history. We’ve included a sample message below that you can include when you make your donation. Make sure they know why you’re donating to them and make sure to restrict your donation to women’s education. We’ve used Mary Baldwin as an example, but feel free to support whichever college you’d prefer. If you’re willing, please let us know who you donated to. We’d love to keep track of the Filiae Nostrae Society’s impact.


I am writing today to offer my support to Mary Baldwin. You may be aware that my alma mater, Chatham University, has recently decided to go coed. Their decision and the events surrounding leave me in search of an institution to support that continues to value women’s education.

I will be making a small financial donation of $14.50, in memory of the 145 year history of Chatham College for Women. Please limit my gift to support women’s education.

I appreciate your commitment to providing women with the same rare opportunity I had and look forward to remaining a supporter of Mary Baldwin in the future.

Thank you,

Jane Doe

Chatham College for Women, Class of XXXX



We have created a strong bond of alumnae from all over the world in the last 5 months, and we don’t want that to end. We will continue to keep our Facebook page regularly updated, and we’ve added the new Filiae Nostrae Society website ( – check it out if you haven’t already – but there are other ways we can immediately facilitate that networking, and we’re building those every day.

Action Item: Search for the Filiae Nostrae Society group on LinkedIn and join your fellow FNS alumnae. This will be a great way for alumnae to do career networking. Know of a job opening at your company? Post it! Looking for a job? Let us know! Just need some good company? We have that, too!

Action Item 2: Volunteer to be spotlighted for the Outside the Bubble feature we’ll be doing regularly. It’s simple: we provide you with 10-12 questions; you supply the answer and a photo so your fellow alumnae can put a name to a face. This is a way for us to highlight all of the GREAT women who have graduated from Chatham. Just comment here or send us a message on the Facebook page if you’re interested, and we’ll follow up.


We hope you’ll help us start to build the organization by completing at least one of these action items! (And we hand out bonus points for completing all of them.) We are so excited about where this organization is going, and these are only the first small steps! Please join us and we start on this journey to something incredible!

Final response to Chatham University re: Cease and Desist

Please see our response here or below.

We look forward to a bright future with our sisters.  Come help build it at

– The Filiae Nostrae Society





CIAA Response to Chatham University’s Request to Cease and Desist

As we indicated on Tuesday, our response to Chatham University was due today. You can read the letter from our counsel by clicking the link here.

Chatham University Issues Cease and Desist Letter to Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association

On Monday, June 9, 2014, the Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association (CIAA)/Save Chatham, through the Save Chatham Gmail account, received a letter from an attorney on behalf of Chatham University, issuing a request to cease and desist any and all uses of the term “Chatham.”

The letter, attached here, declares that Chatham University is the owner of the name and trademark “CHATHAM” and therefore they are concerned with our use of the name in any and all formats. Copied on the letter were the four individuals who had agreed to lead the formative committees for the CIAA/Save Chatham, and we were asked to provide written confirmation by June 20th that we would comply with the request.

The four individuals copied on the letter have been in conversation, both as a group and with legal representatives, to discuss the issue at hand and our possible responses. No decision has been reached yet, but we felt it important to let you, the members of the CIAA, know why we have had to stop all formative action until this issue is resolved. In addition, we feel the need to clarify a few points regarding the timing of this letter and the content therein.

The cease and desist letter was written and delivered via email to us on June 9, 2014. After some research on our part, we learned that the trademark request the letter speaks to, listed as “Educational services, namely, providing courses of instruction at the undergraduate and graduate level; alumni organization services” was not filed until June 6, 2014. We believe this indicates that Chatham had no long standing trademark of the name, and it was not until they perceived us to be a legitimate organization of alumnae that would not be dissolving after the co-ed vote occurred that they opted to trademark the name with the express purpose of requesting us to cease and desist use of the name. Indeed, to our knowledge, at no time before June 9th had anyone from Chatham University or its established alumni network ever ask the CIAA/Save Chatham organization or any of its publicized administrators to cease using the name, though even at that point the organization was clearly contrary to the university’s impending “mission and interest.”

Additionally, the letter states that the organization is currently raising funds. That is incorrect. At no time as Save Chatham, or in this initial stage of the CIAA, has there ever been a request made to raise funds. Conversations have occurred around whether this is something the disenfranchised alumnae of Chatham College (now University) would like to do, but it is purely an abstract conversation at this point, already delayed until a research committee could determine the best legal status for the organization and its ability to fundraise under that status.

In addition to the cease and desist letter, on June 11th, the four named individuals also received an email from Jennifer Potter Winton ’66, the current Chatham University Board of Trustees Chair. Her letter, attached here (with the only redaction being the email addresses of the four recipients), further explains the rationale behind the University’s decision to issue the request. She also expresses a (personal, and we assume institutional) hope that there can be reconciliation with alumnae to avoid a negative financial impact on students and faculty given potential diminishment of alumnae contributions to the University.

While many suggestions have been made between the announcement of the co-ed vote on February 18th and today’s date on how alumnae who no longer wish to support Chatham financially can use their donations in other ways, at no point has CIAA/Save Chatham, as an organization, declared that alumnae cannot continue to support Chatham, if they so wish. Indeed, the administrators of CIAA/Save Chatham have made it a point to remind alumnae that the decision to retain ties to the University, be they financial, volunteer, or participation in alumni events, remain solely with each alumna herself.

Any “destruction” of Chatham through the reallocation of alumnae discretionary funds that formerly would have gone to Chatham can only be seen as an individual disagreement with the University’s current mission and/or direction. Should CIAA/Save Chatham choose to fundraise in the future, each alumna contribution will be made with the express knowledge that their contribution will not be going to Chatham University, and they can make, or not make, that donation accordingly.

As was stated earlier, no decision has been made yet regarding the letters received requesting a cease and desist of all use of names including the word “Chatham.” Working with our legal counsel, we will have a formal answer by the deadline issued in the letter, and as soon as we are able to update you on that decision and any resulting action, we will let you know. Until that time we have suspended activity, and we ask that you continue to watch for updates. We look forward to working with interested alumnae, in whatever capacity we are able, in the near future.

Thank you.

The CIAA/Save Chatham administrators

Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association Kick-Off Conference Call Minutes

Last night, we held the first conference call for the newly-formed Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association. Not able to join? No problem! Meeting minutes are posted below.

Will you join us to help shape the new chapter of proud Chatham College for Women alumnae? Click here to volunteer for a committee assignment by Monday, June 9th. Committee chairs will be reaching out to volunteers next week with next steps. Questions? E-mail

Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association

Conference Call Minutes / June 4th, 2014 / 8:00 pm

As we have stated on our blog post, the result of the vote to choose a name for our group is the Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association. The online handles (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and blog) will remain as Save Chatham for the time being.

The main intent of this group is to form an organized alternative to the Chatham University Alumnae Association for those alumnae who choose not to be involved with Chatham as a result of the coeducational vote. The group will serve as a network for relationships with Chatham sisters and will support women’s education at schools where it is still an honored tradition.

The Chatham University Alumnae Association will have no ties whatsoever to Chatham. It will never serve as a vehicle for recruitment or fundraising. We may pass information along to members from Chatham, but there will be absolutely no attempt to engage alumnae on Chatham’s behalf at this time.

As the group begins to formalize, we will be creating a committee structure to form workgroups. The following committees have been identified to date:

  • Mission, Values, and Goals (drafting of a mission statement and possibly more formal bylaws)
  • Business and Legal Organizational Options (research into the legal options the group may have for forming)
  • Communications and Outreach (this may initially include membership building)
  • Technology (Exploring the tools currently at our disposal and investigation of new ones that may be helpful)

Committees will be staffed by alumnae volunteers who commit to 2-3 hours of work per week (depending on how many people are helping with the committee and what the action items are for the committee). At this point, committees will be led by Save Chatham administrators, but those leaders will eventually transition out as committees get up and running.

The following Save Chatham administrators have agreed to chair each committee:

  • Mission, Values, and Goals – Alexa New ‘08
  • Business and Legal Organizational Options – Sarah Stulga ‘08
  • Communications and Outreach – Kelly McKown ‘02
  • Technology – Rachel Lunsford ‘07

Additional committees will be added as needed as this group evolves. For example, we have considered an alternative reunion committee and fundraising committee depending on the work of the initial committees.

Minutes from this call will be posted on the Save Chatham blog. We are asking volunteers to let us know by Monday the committee on which they would like to serve by Monday (June 9th). Committee chairs will follow-up next week to begin group communications for each committee. Committee chairs will be responsible for organizing volunteers and moving work forward. Each committee will outline action items moving forward. The CCIAA will regroup for a group call at the end of June to hear committee reports and discuss next steps.

We recognize that emotions are still running strong after the vote, and many alumnae are still very angry with Chatham. We have chosen as a group to exemplify the true meaning of our sisterhood. As such, it is important that the formal committee will be focused on positive, proactive work moving forward. Individual volunteers are still of course encouraged to participate in any activities they choose. However, in order to keep the mission of our formal group clear (especially as we consider a separate 501c3 status), the formal group will officially steer clear of any and all negative actions towards Chatham.

This weekend is reunion weekend, and as many alumnae have chosen not to participate in reunion, we will be hosting a virtual alternative. This weekend, look for a “Reclaim Reunion” theme on Facebook and Twitter, including a special profile picture alumnae can share and use. We will be asking people to post photos and memories while promoting our work moving forward. More ideas will be developed around this and will be announced soon.

Alumnae participants on the call also discussed additional opportunities to engage alumnae not engaged in social media. This topic will be explored in further detail with the communications committee. Additional discussion focused on opportunities to engage and support other women’s college alumnae associations and/or independent associations formed after a coeducational vote. This will be explored as the work of the group evolves.

Action Items/Next Steps: Information about signing up for a committee volunteer role will be posted on the Save Chatham Facebook/Twitter pages, blog and sent via the Save Chatham e-mail distribution list. Volunteers interested in serving on a committee can e-mail or message the Save Chatham administrators via the Facebook page.

Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association Forming Now!

Hello all!

After two rounds of voting, with almost 500 votes in total cast for the new name of Save Chatham…


Now that we have a new name, we want to take the momentum that Save Chatham generated and use it to honor the legacy of Chatham College for Women and allow our alumnae to have a network that can support them, allowing them in turn to support women’s education and each other. To do that, we are issuing a call for volunteers.



We need your help laying the cornerstone to establish our new, independent alumnae association! We need task-oriented people who don’t mind doing a bit of work, whether it be research, compiling information, writing, graphic design, marketing/communication/etc. This will require an initial commitment of about 2-3 hours per week (1 hour for prep and 1 hour for discussion over the course of the week, plus 1 hour long bi-weekly planning phone call). We have spent the last few weeks since the vote gathering your ideas and input, now help us start making all of our ideas a reality.



We will have hosting an initial call on Wednesday, June 4th at 8 pm ET. (Call-in information provided below.) We understand that no single call-time will be able to meet the needs of all who want to participate, but don’t worry. If you can’t make the call and still want to be involved, just let one of the Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association (CCIAA for short) administrators know, and we’ll make sure that you get the information you need, post call.

Our initial call will focus on the four main areas that we see starting with right away. This is not an all-inclusive list. Things will change and be added over time, but we believe starting work in these areas will allow us to begin building our network.

The four areas of initial concentration will be:

  • Mission, Values, and Goals (drafting of a mission statement and possibly more formal bylaws)
  • Business and Legal Organizational Options (research into the legal options the group may have for forming)
  • Communications and Outreach (this may initially include membership building)
  • Technology (Exploring the tools currently at our disposal and investigation of new ones that may be helpful)

On the call we will talk more about a timeline for some of these actions and the committee structure moving forward.

This call will last for one hour and will conclude with an action plan for moving the various pieces of the building process forward.



The call-in information for Wednesday night’s call is:

Wednesday, June 4th at 8 pm ET

Dial-in: 1-857-232-0156

Conference Code: 588106



No worries. We’re all busy women, and we realize that sometimes you just don’t have an extra hour (or two or three…) to spare. As we move forward, we will continue to keep you updated with what’s happening through our blog and email, if you’re part of our distribution list, and we’ll continue to provide information on ways that you can be involved when your schedule frees up a bit.

We Have a Run-Off!

Voting closed last night for the new name of Save Chatham, and there were almost 200 votes cast. For those who participated, thank you! If you missed your chance to vote, don’t worry because we have a run-off!

As stated before, if no name failed to grab over 50% of the vote, we would have a run-off between the top two. While votes for the other options were spread pretty evenly in the number of votes received, the results for the top two looked like this:


You will have until Sunday, May 25th at 11:59 pm ET to vote for one of these names using the poll button below. Next week we will publish the result as well as some additional plans for moving forward under the new name.

Happy voting!