Women's Initiatives

initiatives-women.jpg"William & Mary women are a force that continues to shape the future of the university and the world around us. I am proud that my alma mater is at the forefront of universities who are actively working to find innovative ways to engage, empower and celebrate women."

Elizabeth Cabell Jennings ’85, P ’17

A Letter from the Director of Alumni Engagement and Inclusion Initiatives

In 1918, William & Mary opened its doors to 24 women students. Today, women students, parents, staff, faculty, friends and alumnae help shape the current and future character of the university.

William & Mary women currently represent 54% of alumni and are inspiring, empowering and leading the world in all walks of life, personally and professionally. Yet women in our nation continue to earn less than men for the same jobs and are woefully underrepresented in leadership roles. Launched in 2016, the goal of women’s initiatives at William & Mary is to support the interests, standing and well-being of all W&M women — bringing all they have to offer to W&M and bringing all W&M has to offer to them.

In just five short years, W&M women’s initiatives have had a great impact:

  • We have offered 125 W&M programs and events attracting over 10,000 registrations.
  • The percentage of volunteer leaders on the over 20 boards across campus has grown from 34% to 50%.
  • In 2018, we launched the Society of 1918 and established the Alumnae Initiatives Endowment (AIE). In the five years since AIE was created, we’ve grown women’s engagement, leadership and philanthropy, raising more than $4.5 million. There are now over 500 members of the Society!

And, did you know that women gave $531 million, which is over half of the more than $1 billion raised during our triumphantFor the Bold campaign?

The early dreams of W&M’s women’s initiatives have reaped great benefit for all W&M women and for the university. You might ask, what is next? With significant underwriting and leadership by the members of the Society of 1918, here are our new goals that we are striving to achieve by 2028:

  • Gather - Provide best-in-class programming for all W&M women, expanding personal and professional networks and engaging with the university’s educational programs, students and leaders.
  • Grow - Increase total membership of the Society of 1918 to 1,000 women who are reflective of the diversity of W&M alumni and who, by virtue of their philanthropic commitment underwrite a wide range of funding needs on campus
  • Give - Act as a catalyst and model for transformational giving by all W&M women and close the now 10% gap in average gift size between W&M women and men.

In line with the goal to gather and in great thanks to the underwriting of the AIE, we are excited to announce we are planning a second W&M Women’s Weekend! Our inaugural weekend was in 2018 and brought nearly 500 women from across the decades to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they empowered one another and celebrated the accomplished women of William & Mary. The energy was palpable and unstoppable!  We’ll convene for the second edition of Women’s Weekend September 16-18, 2022, with Isabel Wilkerson, author of “Caste: The Origins of our Discontents.”

We hope you will join us as we strive to meet our new goals by participating in W&M women events, raising your hand to volunteer at W&M and philanthropically supporting the university. Comprising over half of our alumni, the time, talents and treasure of W&M women are needed to assure that the Alma Mater of the Nation is a place where belonging is a realized value and, as a result, W&M thrives!

Valerie J. Cushman
Senior Director of Alumni Engagement and Inclusion Initiatives

Giving Opportunity

Alumnae Initiatives Endowment (4156)

As part of the effort to commemorate 100 years of coeducation, William & Mary established an endowment to support W&M women’s initiatives. Income from the endowment is used to enrich and expand current offerings that bring all W&M women together to strengthen their bonds with one another and with alma mater. Examples include the W&M Women’s Weekend, regional women’s events, virtual programs and membership scholarships to the Society of 1918.

Society of 1918


The Society of 1918 is committed to growing women's engagement, leadership and philanthropy and to celebrating and honoring William & Mary women. Our vision is for William & Mary women to achieve a level of impact, influence and generosity commensurate with their majority representation in the alumni community.

Society of 1918 recognition is offered to all women who commit to support the Alumnae Initiatives Endowment. Recognition categories are as follows:

  • Young Guarde, faculty, staff and those who serve in the military contribute $5,000 over a 5-year period ($1,000/year or $84/month) to the AIE
  • W&M Women contribute $10,000 over a 5-year period ($2,000/year or $167/month) to the AIE
  • Sustaining/renewing members contribute $10,000 over a 5-year period ($2,000/year or $167/month) with at least $2,000 of that amount to the Alumnae Initiatives Endowment and the balance to a W&M fund of choice. Those who choose to support a fund in women’s athletics will also be recognized as Women in Action — a collective of women who support our women athletes.

Women’s Initiatives News

  •  Val Cushman ,  Director of Alumni Engagement and Inclusion Initiatives
  •  757-221-1622
  •   vjcushman@wm.edu