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Woughter receives Abigail Allen Award
4/26/11

Kathy Woughter

Kathy Woughter

Kathy Woughter, vice president of student affairs at Alfred University, was honored with the 2011 Abigail Allen award for her contributions to improving women’s lives on campus and in the community.

The annual award is given in memory of AU’s founding mother, Abigail Allen, who advocated for equal educational opportunities for women during the mid-1800s.

Throughout her career, Woughter has been an advocate and mentor for students, encouraging them grow into their full potential. Prior to becoming vice president for student affairs, she spent nine years as the director of AU’s Career Development Center. Encouraging student professionalism and involvement in the community are two goals that have been constant throughout her time at Alfred.

Woughter was drawn to career counseling early; she chose to pursue her master’s degree in counseling with the goal of leading a high school career center.

“My high school had one, and the director was an amazing woman who I wanted to be just like,” Woughter said. “It wasn’t until I was almost done with my master’s program that I became aware that my high school had been an anomaly, and that the job I wanted was pretty rare. It was fairly easy to make the jump to college career counseling, a profession that I loved.”

Woughter has influenced many students and alumni as a trusted mentor, guiding them not only in the development of professional skills, but also in making a difference in the community.

“I know without a doubt that I owe a massive debt to my own mentors that I will always work toward repaying,” said Woughter. “Mentoring students, particularly young women, is one way I can honor the women (and men) who have mentored me and made such a huge positive difference in my life.”

“While certainly treating all students equally, Kathy is conscious of the need for women to be strong, find their voice and stand up for what they believe; she does this by leading by example as well as giving presentations and by gently guiding,” said Laurie McFadden, a long-time colleague and friend of Woughter.

The Women’s Leadership Center—a program of the office of student affairs—was founded and has grown under the leadership of Woughter, expanding professional and personal development opportunities for young women on the AU campus. The center sponsors speakers, leadership training and mentoring for students.

Woughter builds upon Allen’s legacy of educational opportunities for women, leading by example.

“While reading about Abigail Allen, I realized that I could have removed Abigail's name and added Kathy's,” said Chris Kulp, alumna, trustee and member of the advisory board for the Women’s Leadership Center. “Her strength of personality, beliefs, sense of inclusiveness, equality and justice is inspiring. She is the perfect role model and just as importantly, like Abigail, Kathy has a gift for friendship.”

Like many on AU’s campus, Woughter views Allen as an inspiration. “She paved the way for me to do what I do,” said Woughter of Allen. “It’s no less critical for me to insist that women honor themselves and demand the rights they deserve, but because of Abigail Allen and other brave and smart women, it’s only a fraction as radical these days.”

“Kathy honors the legacy of Abigail Allen by inspiring those around her to strive ahead,” said alumna, and Women’s Leadership Center board member, Jessi Gottlieb Empestan. “She exemplifies strength, kindness, warmth, and leadership in her daily commitment to the principle that we collectively succeed when we each help others attain their individual goals.”

“Working for Kathy is like standing in the sun. I most admire her strategic vision and overall joy in seeing others succeed whether it be a direct supervisee like myself, or any other student or individual that is lucky enough to cross her path,” said Brenda Porter, AU’s director of residence life. “Kathy is an excellent role model and always displays her tremendous moral compass and character in everything she does.”

In addition to her leadership on campus, Woughter is also active in the local community. She has served as a member and president of the Wellsville Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Alfred 21st Century Group’s advisory board.

While the AU community benefits from Woughter’s leadership, she credits the community for providing her with the opportunities to develop those skills. “I knew very little about feminism or women’s leadership until I began working at AU and met so many great role models,” Woughter said.

She advises today’s students, especially young women, to take advantage of the opportunities that helped her develop as a leader and a person.
“The faculty and staff here are inspiring and dedicated, and many of them are just as willing to mentor as I am,” Woughter said. “Let yourself be inspired by the incredible faculty and staff on this campus, and ask us to mentor you. It could change your life.”