Alumna Lee Ann Munger continues on a path of women empowerment after graduating from Chatham

Lee Ann Munger, a Chatham graduate of 1984, was sure to make her time at Chatham truly count. With a double major in philosophy and history, Munger set out to create a career path for herself after graduation. She found herself aiding in the development of a program called Powerlink about twenty years ago, specializing in the combination of Powerlink and another women’s rights driven organization referred to as E-Magnify.

Now, she is the Powerlink director of the E-Magnify group at Seton Hill University. Munger, now 52, referred to E-Magnify as her, “niche.” Powerlink is an amazing organization that provides support for beginning or growing businesses owned by women.

Photo Courtesy of Lee Ann Munger
Photo Courtesy of Lee Ann Munger

Munger described exactly what her position and the organization entails, “My focus is on putting together advisory boards for established women with businesses for a growth strategy.”  However, the construction of advisory boards is only one aspect to the immense resources Powerlink and E-Magnify offer.

There are a myriad of options from small seminars, to individual counseling as well. Munger admits her position requires her to work with current women-lead businesses, rather than aiding in the process of building the business like in other positions in the program.

While Munger dedicated her time to Seton Hill University, Chatham University still remained in her heart. The impact of attending Chatham will constantly follow Munger, given her work in the field is based around women’s issues and business. When beginning her freshman year at Chatham, Munger admitted that women’s issues were not where her interests stood.  Referring to the statistics presented to Chatham about the percent of women who do not want to attend an all-women school, Munger commented, “ I was one of the 98%. I was one [of them] until I received information about Chatham.  From that moment I received the material, I fell in love.”

Munger applied only to Chatham after receiving the material because she says she was, “convinced Chatham was the place for her.” Despite her intuition when applying, Munger, originally from Akron, Ohio, had never even seen the campus.

Munger claims Chatham taught her key skills that allow her to be successful in her field such as critical thinking and analyzing and assessing situations. Throughout her career at Chatham, Munger named various faculty members that influenced her, as well as her month-long stay in Paris, France during a January session.

She says there is a key aspect she takes away from her Chatham experience. “I truly believe I can do almost anything. I’m not going to be an architect or a surgeon, but I feel if chose a new career path, I could do anything. I don’t see limits!”

Despite the confidence Munger gained from her experience at Chatham, her on-campus participation has been limited given her busy schedule. However, she is currently working toward making time to commit to Chatham, given the new coeducation dilemma at hand. She explained, the school should reach out to alumni more, and draw them into campus.

Furthermore, she explained, the board has been discussing this issue for years; however, if it was discussed more publicly we may have been able to accomplish more. Given the timing, Munger feels there are, more than likely, so many missed opportunities for Chatham, and other options could have been brainstormed much earlier in this process. She commented that alumnae would be more than willing to be involved in alleviating the issue, while trying to create programs where the alumnae could have the chance to work with highly accomplished young women.  As Munger reflected on the possible coed situation, she stated, “I get worried about our one greatest differentiator-being a leading women’s university.  This could be difficult to rectify.”

While the situation does appear difficult to rectify, Munger, like many others, has confidence that there are still other options available. Ideas are flowing, and hope is still alive as of yet. Therefore, Munger gave some advice to the students currently attending Chatham: “Professionally, when you are starting out, you envision it like a ladder with a straight upward progression. But the truth is, it is more like navigating a spider-web, rather than climbing a ladder. Have some goals in mind, but be open to possibilities because you can’t always see where the path is going to lead.”