Helping women succeed has been a lifelong passion for Rider University Trustee Joan Mazzotti ’72. Since 2006, when she and her husband established the Mazzotti Awards in Women’s Leadership, hundreds of Rider female faculty and staff have benefited from leadership development opportunities both internal and external to the University.
The Mazzotti Women’s Leadership Program supports competitive grants for women faculty and staff to pursue external leadership development opportunities, as well as the biennial Mazzotti Women’s Leadership Summit open to all Rider women. More than 40 women have received Mazzotti Awards and completed leadership programs at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, among other prestigious institutions.
“There is a continually growing number of female leaders at Rider who serve as powerful role models,” Mazzotti says. “Their success and achievements inspire and motivate other women to pursue leadership roles or to approach their current position with a greater sense of confidence and purpose. This contributes to the empowerment of all women on campus. I could not be happier with the impact of this program.”
Applicants for the Mazzotti Awards in Women’s Leadership are full-time Rider employees with a minimum of two years of University service. Recipients are selected by a committee led by Dr. Donna Jean A. Fredeen, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, and Debbie Stasolla, vice president for strategic initiatives and planning and secretary to the Board. The committee selects award recipients based upon the alignment of their professional goals with their proposed program and the degree to which those goals will benefit the Rider community and applicants’ continued leadership development.
When she received her award in 2019, Christine Mehlhorn was the director of transition programs at Rider. She attended the Donna M. Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute of the American College Personnel Association where she learned how to develop strategic partnerships within Student Affairs and across campus to support students at all developmental stages of their academic careers. Since then, she has been promoted to associate dean of students. As a leader in Student Affairs, she oversees critical aspects of student life and well-being.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been granted an award to pursue professional development and work in an environment where a Trustee so generously invests in employees,” says Mehlhorn. “The opportunity to showcase what I have learned and make a meaningful impact on our students and across campus has been truly rewarding.”
On May 22 and 23, the Mazzotti Women’s Leadership Summit afforded even more women the opportunity to further their leadership development at Rider. This year’s summit, Full Circle Thriving: An Intentional Choice, was the program’s fourth campus-wide summit and was attended by more than 100 faculty and staff. In response to the rapid and dramatic changes impacting higher education, the 2023 summit focused on the importance of thriving in one’s professional and personal life as a core tenet of leadership.
Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, Harvard physician, Forbes contributor and NBC News medical commentator, served as keynote speaker and discussed how to navigate mental health in the new normal after the pandemic. She explained science-backed strategies to minimize burnout, a top mental health concern, and provided a blueprint for resilient leadership. Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, founder and CEO of Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement, and Dr. Felicia Ganther, president of Bucks County Community College, shared their own perspectives on thriving. The summit also provided a space for women to connect, share experiences and support each other.
“I am hopeful women left the summit inspired and motivated to make their own full-circle thriving a reality,” Mazzotti says. “Leaders who thrive demonstrate resilience and adaptability, have a clear sense of purpose and direction, and are not solely focused on their own success, but also on the success of their colleagues. This is just the mindset we need to meet the current challenges facing higher education.”
To learn more about The Mazzotti Awards in Women’s Leadership visit rider.edu/mazzotti-awards.