August 2014 Features

Alumnae Career Services

Mawrter to Mawrter:  Career Development Representatives serve as a resource for alumnae  navigating their way to new jobs and new careers.

By Kirin Kalia ’97


Elizabeth Damore ’05 loved her work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. But, in 2012, she decided it was time to move closer to her family in Washington State, so she set her sights on San Francisco.

Her primary concern: finding a job in her field in a city where she didn’t know many people.

Networking is second nature to Damore, a fundraiser by profession, so she thought, “Why not tap into the Bryn Mawr network since it’s so helpful on the East Coast?” She Googled Bryn Mawr’s Career Development Representatives (CDR) program, and found Kate Patterson ’75, the CDR in the Bay Area. And when Damore started looking for work in Seattle after a year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, she contacted Washington State CDR Wynn Bubnash ’04, who works at the Gates Foundation. Connecting with Bubnash helped Damore land her current job as an engagement officer at an international development nonprofit in Seattle.

Bubnash and Patterson are two of the nine CDRs currently supporting Mawrters in eight cities across the United States. These alumnae volunteers serve as a resource for recent grads and alumnae in mid-career and beyond as they navigate and network their way to new jobs and through career changes. They also plan local events, such as informal gatherings, alumnae panel discussions, and workshops in collaboration with regional clubs and with Director of Alumnae Career Engagement Cori Ashworth. As the Alumnae Association’s full-time career counselor and career services manager, Ashworth oversees the CDR program.

The CDR program dates back to the early 1970s, long before the term networking became popular.

Nancy Monnich, then in what was known as the College’s Career Planning and Placement Office and later the director of admissions, began working with Washington, D.C.-based alumna Mike Niccolls ’39 to bring some structure to alumnae networking. (Niccolls, who remained a CDR until a few years ago, died in November at age 96.)

Famous for her annual Career Network Survey in D.C.—to find out who was working where and willing to be a resource—Niccolls knew many alumnae personally and delighted in connecting newcomers with them. One alumna Niccolls frequently referred students and other alumnae to was Nazanin Samari Ash ’96, a former White House fellow and most recently the U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for political and economic reform in the Middle East. Ash herself was introduced by Niccolls to Alice Rivlin ’52, the former White House Office of Management and Budget director, and Rivlin opened Ash’s eyes to the challenges of building a policy career in Washington and emphasized the importance of distinguishing oneself from the pack. The experience, and Niccolls herself, inspired Ash to help other alumnae.

“We’ve all benefited from that kind of mentorship,” Ash says. “It has mattered to me at every stage of my career.”

After more than 40 years, the CDR program keeps evolving as the career needs of alumnae change and as the Alumnae Association expands its efforts to support alumnae careers. To be clear, CDRs do not serve as career professionals; if an alumna needs a resume reworked or one-on-one help searching for a job, the CDR refers her to Ashworth for an appointment. Some past and present CDRs, including Patterson—a recruiter and management consultant who specializes in the legal profession—do have a background in career management, but it’s not a requirement. For Ashworth, someone who has a sincere interest in alumnae and good communication skills “is a perfect match” for the program.

“The person needs to be willing to talk and meet with alums, to ferret out resources for them, and to put together career programming locally,”
she adds.

Marcia Cantarella ’68, who served as the career representative on the Alumnae Association Executive Board (AAEB) from 2011 to 2014 and is a higher education consultant, says it’s also
helpful if the CDR has had a “somewhat varied career, so that there’s a perspective that many things are possible … and so they can be role models and have that credibility.”

New York CDR Janet Sachs ’94, for example, works in internal communications and web development for financial information publisher S&P Capital IQ, a job she got via an alumna contact well before she became a CDR over five years ago. She especially enjoys helping those looking for a new career or looking to advance in their current work, adding, “It’s especially valuable and rewarding for me to help other women of Bryn Mawr.”

And for Sumaya Abdurrezak ’05, becoming a Washington, D.C., CDR shortly after graduation followed naturally from her experience at Bryn Mawr. She participated in multiple career exploration days in New York and D.C. during school breaks and worked at what was then the College’s Career Development Office (now the Career and Professional Development Office).

Currently living in San Francisco and doing business development for a fast-growing startup, Abdurrezak has benefited from this truth about networking: “You’d be surprised. When you ask people for help, they will go out of their way to do what they can or introduce you to people.”

Moira Forbes ’94, a health policy expert who works at a federal agency that analyzes Medicaid data, recently took over Cantarella’s role as the career representative to the AAEB, and she
will be working closely with Ashworth over the next three years to further refine the CDR program. She already knows that, in general, she’d like to facilitate more conversations between alumnae
at different stages in their lives and discuss how their lives integrate into career considerations.

“It’s more a question of how we as women develop our careers,” Forbes says. “How do we do work-life balance; how do we break into management, ramp on and ramp off?”

Although the CDR program is responsive to the changing needs of alumnae and the job market, the power of Mawrter-to-Mawrter connections remains its core. It’s a sentiment echoed by Patterson, who, after years of counseling numerous alumnae who had relocated to San Francisco, realized, “[Alumnae] need to talk to someone who understands their roots and their background and appreciates how Bryn Mawr women on a basal level are unusual, extraordinary, and talented.”


One-Stop Shopping

To map your career goals, make connections, and get advice, visit the Alumnae website, where we have compiled a library of career-related resources in one place. Visit us at

Career Resources by Interest Area: The Alumnae Career Services webpage offers all the latest on career research (including salaries and employer ratings), nonprofit/volunteer opportunities, midlife/transitions, work/life balance, women in the workplace, and everything you need to know about self-employment/consulting. Visit

Alumnae/i Job Postings: Contact the Career and Professional Development Office at 610-526-5174 or

Self-Assessment Materials: The Alumnae Career Services website can help you examine your skills, values, and interests with tools to reflect on past accomplishments and identify future goals. See

Career Development Representatives: Do you want to connect with the Career Development Representative in your area? A complete list of CDRs can be found on the Alumnae Career Services website. Visit

Webinars with Cori Ashworth: Past topics include “Making Yourself Indispensable at Work,” “Resumes/Cover Letter/Cover E-mail,” and “Interviewing Skillfully.” Sign up for upcoming webinars and view past offerings at

Webinars with Career Experts: This invaluable archive includes “How to Write a Killer Resume,” with Martin Yate, the best-selling author of Knock Em Dead, and “5 Steps to Your Personal Brand,” with author/career coach Sherri Thomas. To view those and other past webinars, or register for the upcoming series, visit

Career Services for GSSWSR Alumnae/i: For GSSWSR alumnae/i looking career advice, Kathy Marcolina, M.S.S. ’85, provides career counseling and job search coaching. Her office hours are Monday through Thursday, with appointments starting at 10 a.m. Contact Kathy at or 610-520-2615.

One-on-one phone appointments with Cori Ashworth: Undergraduate and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences alumnae/i should contact Cori Ashworth for career guidance. Her office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. For those who can’t make appointments during working hours, midweek evening appointments can be arranged. Contact Cori at or call 610-526-5230.

Want to get involved with career programming? Contact Cori Ashworth at or 610-526-5230.

Upcoming Career Webinars

For more information, to register, or view past webinars, visit


  • September 9, Liberal Arts Skills: Translating to the Workplace
  • October 1, How to Find Your Next Job in One Day
  • October 16, Managing a Portfolio Career
  • November 5, Let LinkedIn Market Your Skills and Experience
  • November 13, Working with a Sponsor/Mentor to Advance Your Career
  • December 3, Master the Art and Science of Interviewing


  • January 7, Grab Your Keys and Drive Your Career
  • February 4, Proven Strategies to Build a Network That Works for You
  • March 4, Stuff Your Resume with Keywords to Highlight Your Experience
  • April 1, Use Your Strengths to Create a Rewarding and Satisfying Career
  • May 6, Five Steps to Build a Powerful and Profitable Network
  • June 3, What You Don’t Say in an Interview Could Hold You Back


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