Each year, in celebration of the last week of National Women’s History Month, Ball State University’s Women’s and Gender studies department hosts Women’s Week. This week, full of lectures, film, music, art, and events, explores women’s experiences and highlights their achievements. Amidst this year’s Women’s Week, the Ball State University Women’s Club (BSUWC) hosted a Women in Careers Panel. The BSUWC is an organization full of passionate women dedicated to supporting culture and scholarship in the Ball State academic community. Members of the BSUWC regularly attend and host events around Muncie to promote the spirit of friendliness. The Women in Careers Panel featured three Women’s Club members: Sue Bonneau, Julie Barker Holland, and Kelli Clark. On Thursday, March 23rd, this panel of accomplished women shared their stories and thoughts with members of the Ball State community, digging into complexities of balancing work and life as a woman.
Presenting the Women in Careers Panel
Sue Bonneau, Ball State Women’s Club President – Sue Bonneau recently retired from Ball State University where she served as Prospect Research Specialist at the Ball State University Foundation. She graduated from Ball State with a degree in Journalism and Geology and Natural Resources. Sue has been a board member and President of the Indiana Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement as well as a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Her civic involvement includes the Minnetrista Cultural Center, the Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, the Conner Prairie Symphony on the Prairie concert series, Ball State University Public Radio, and the Red-Tail Land Conservancy.
Julie Barker Holland, Ball State Women’s Club Vice President – Julie Barker Holland is a graduate of UT Knoxville. She studied English and was a teacher for many years at Collierville High School in Tennessee. While a doctoral student at The University of Memphis, she represented her state in a program to diversify teaching strategies in Russia. This began her international work abroad in over 60 countries. She was the former First Lady of the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. She and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Holland reside in Muncie along with their Afghan Rescue Dog, Spinney.
Kelli Clark, Ball State Women’s Club Treasurer – Kelli Clark is a Business Analyst for Americares Foundation, Inc., a global health-focused non-profit organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies, health services, and programs. As a Business Analyst, Kelli seeks to improve operational efficiencies throughout all aspects of the business with a current focus on financial operations. Prior to Americares, Kelli spent 13 years at Save the Children Federation, Inc., another global non-profit, where she served in a variety of financial and business process improvement roles in the US and UK. In a former life, Kelli even served as a Division I volleyball coach. She holds a bachelor’s degree (B.S.) in both Accountancy and Finance from Wright State University and an MBA from East Tennessee State University.
During the Panel, Sue, Julie, and Kelli responded to career-focused questions and reflected on their experiences in the professional world. Their answers illuminated strategies for success, tips for staying motivated, and managing challenges.
Considering Success in Careers
When considering their success and offering advice to others, one skill resonated with all three women: adaptability. For them, being flexible, open to change, and having patience are the key to finding success and making a career work better for you. It is good to have a plan, but it is important to accept change. Adaptability has helped each of them face challenges, work with different personalities, and, most importantly, learn new things.
“Be a sponge in every role you do so you can absorb what it takes to become a leader” – Kelli Clark
Despite their successes, Sue, Julie, and Kelli are no strangers to career setbacks. Julie, for instance, refers to herself as a “trailing spouse” after moving to Afghanistan to accommodate her husband’s career choice. She recalls having to build new support systems and explains, “Taking chances pushed me to grow”.
Kelli, throughout her career working with global non-profits, also struggled with new beginnings. She expresses the difficulty of having a changing career claiming, “Every time we have moved, I have had to reinvent myself.” Together, Julie and Kelli recognize the challenge of a new and unexpected situation, but they find that, again, adaptability helped them navigate those setbacks.
“You have to be open to change and willing to expect some unexpected” – Julie Barker Holland
Surviving setbacks is not always easy, but staying motivated is one way these women persisted. For them, motivation is about remembering your purpose and staying true to what you enjoy. Julie and Kelli find motivation in their desire to help others and be a reliable resource. Sue suggests joining a career that you like and find interesting, because then the motivation will come easy.
“I never looked for a different job because my job kept changing. There were new directors, funds, campaigns, and different philanthropic efforts to keep things interesting” – Sue Bonneau
Among the challenges and unexpected changes, these women have traversed the professional world by staying true to themselves and being prepared for anything. Their insights were a valuable addition to Women’s Week. To learn more about these women and their work with the Ball State Women’s Club visit their site.