Nationally, March is celebrated as Women’s History Month, dedicated to highlighted contributions by women. On Northwestern’s campus, there are countless women in leadership as students and on staff who strive to be the best they can be and encourage others to do so as well.
One of Stegenga Hall’s discipleship coordinators Kaarina Martilla is just that. As a member of Campus Ministry Team, Martilla connects with her peers weekly through d-groups and leading other d-group leaders in Steg. Martilla also leads through her position as a lab assistant.
“One big aspect of being a leader is being intentional: showing up and being there for people and actively loving and caring for them,” Martilla said. “Building other women up is a huge form of leadership.”
Neftali Ramirez is co-president of La Mosaic and also serves as the Latina student liaison, a new position created from the need for Latinx voices in NW leadership and the surrounding community.
“All women can be leaders by supporting the women they see doing incredible things on campus,” Ramirez said.
The vice president for student life Julie Elliott is a member of the President’s Cabinet, the Strategic Planning Committee and advisor to the Women in Leadership club. She regularly attends student events. However, leadership to Elliott does not equate to the end goal of female empowerment.
“Our goal should be to live out our potential in the spaces where God has called us,” Elliott said. “This will often result in leadership opportunities, but simply becoming a leader should not be our goal.”
Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser is an assistant professor of biblical and theological studies alongside leading the Women in Ministry group. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and is on a committee helping young people discern God’s call in their life.
“Leadership is about listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit to step more fully into the person that God is calling you to be,” Kaltwasser said.
As resident director of the campus apartments, director of the Koinonia House and assistant director of Student Activities Council, Lindsay Hubbell is also a role model for women on campus. She encourages the students in the Koinonia House to embody leadership daily.
“The core of leadership is intentionality,” Hubbell said. “Intentionality in your conversations. Intentionality in your vision. Intentionality with your service.”
Female leadership is necessary on campus because representation matters, which is a founding principle in Women’s History Month.
“I would say that we need to keep this tradition of strong women leaders alive, for the sake of both men and women on our campus,” Kaltwasser said. “Women need to see that God asks more of us than to be nurturing and compassionate, that God has and continues to call women to take courage and speak truth in difficult situations, to lead by example.”
Already, women’s leadership has made an impact on campus. The President’s Cabinet over time has become more diverse when it comes to gender. There was a time when Elliott was the only woman on the cabinet. Today there are three. The topic is so important that there will be an Ngage in April on gender equality. The new Koinonia House was installed for this specific purpose: to foster leaders. However, this cannot be a one-sided conversation.
“My wish is that I would see more men participate and stand alongside the female leadership on campus,” Ramirez said. “Time and time again I see women taking advantage of opportunities on campus for learning apart from classes, but I see low male attendance.”
Leadership does not have to mean being president of a club, college or country. Sometimes it simply means being a light for others because lighting someone else’s candle does not diminish your flame.
As Hubbell said, “Leadership does not require you to have a title but an attitude.”