Alumna’s Gift Establishes Women in Leadership Program at FAU
The Kathleen Brush Program for Women in Leadership will feature a mentoring program and emphasize applying theory-to-practice and networking.
Kathleen E. Brush, Ph.D., a business executive, strategy consultant and author, has donated more than $1.3 million to Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business to establish the Kathleen Brush Program for Women in Leadership.
Brush, who earned an M.B.A. from FAU in 1980, approached a few other universities with her idea to create a program for women in leadership, and they all expressed some degree of interest, she said, “but FAU was the only one that said we support gender equality in leadership, we want to be part of the solution.”
At lower levels of management, Brush said, women are almost at a point of parity with men, but at each successive level the gap grows wider.
“When you get to the top, women are almost non-existent,” said Brush, who has created three scholarships for the program. “In the Fortune 500 today, only 4.8 percent of CEOs are women.”
The Kathleen Brush Program for Women in Leadership is a certificate program that will be launched as part of FAU’s Executive Education offerings. The program will feature a mentoring program and emphasize applying theory-to-practice and networking. Each cohort of students, Brush said, provides a great opportunity to develop a lasting network that helps one another move forward.
“For the past 15 months, I have been working with FAU and women business leaders in South Florida to develop a program that is designed to give women a competitive skills advantage over their male competitor,” she said. “We believe this formula will increase the probability that our graduates are promoted.”
The academic focus will address women-specific challenges, such as being a mother and a leader and dealing with gender bias.
Brush, who has been an executive with several companies, has been working as a global leadership, business and strategy consultant since 2009. A resident of Seattle, Brush will be actively involved in the program at FAU. The target market initially will be mid-career female executives, she said.
“We want our students to already understand some of the challenges that exist in the workplace,” Brush said.
Daniel Gropper, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s College of Business, said the program will allow the university to expand on the leadership education it offers to all of its students.
“The College of Business prepares students to become the business leaders of tomorrow,” Gropper said. “We are thankful that one of our graduates, Kathleen Brush, has given us this opportunity, through her financial gift and the experience she has gained as a successful business leader in the tech industry, to design a program that will provide women with the education and the tools they need to reach the top of the corporate ladder.”
Brush has found that the program is being well received, as many women have thanked her for bringing the program to FAU and also to South Florida.
“A lot of the women that I’ve spoken to are older women,” she said. “And their response has been like, ‘Alleluia, let’s do this.’”