November 18, 2015 

A Message From Mariandl Hufford

Dear Friends of CAG,   

Our CAG offices have been busy already this year. While we are only a little over two months into the school year, we have added new programs, joined a new research study, and taken on planning more events for the larger community. CAG’s goals are simple: Through research, we identify those areas in the lives of girls where the playing field is not yet level; through innovative programming, we address the issues that contribute to that disparity.

This is why we often talk about leadership development for girls, and why girls' engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a major topic of interest for us.  

This year, to continue to grow our leadership programming, we created two Saturday workshops in leadership development for fifth- and sixth-grade girls. Open to the larger community, these workshops are designed to help emerging leaders discover a bit about themselves, and also learn about holding onto their voice when collaborating with others. Please read below about the first workshop, held just a few weeks ago, which was the product of a collaboration between CAG Program Coordinator Alison Brant and a cohort of AIS Middle School teachers. 

We also have some exciting new publications to report about: first, we have just recently published a white paper, summarizing the STEM conference that we hosted this past March. Additionally, CAG is proud to announce that an article about our leadership program in Lower School, known as L3, will be published in the December online issue of Independent School Magazine. Research Associate Dr. Sarah Anne Eckert played an instrumental role in the realization of both publications. 

Finally, we are in the midst of planning our second STEM conference, which will be a follow-up to last year's highly successful event. Sharing Solutions 2016: Advancing Girls in STEM will focus on the theme "Building a Better Pipeline" and will be hosted in collaboration with the Franklin Institute next April. Our focus will be changing culture on micro and macro levels to attract and retain more girls and women in STEM fields. 

It continues to be my privilege to direct the Center for the Advancement of Girls. This past month, when I watched the third annual Leading for Change conference unfold, I was reminded that what I love most about this work is that we, at The Agnes Irwin School, provide girls with the environment and the resources that propel them forward beyond their wildest expectations. And in the five years that I have been here, they have never failed to amaze me, too.

With warmest regards,


Mariandl M.C. Hufford,
Assistant Head of School and
Director, Center for the Advancement of Girls 

CAG Around AIS Campus

AIS AlliedNow in its second year, the mentoring program welcomes two new Allies, Shaina Hamilton '01 and Aleena Sorathia, as well as 15 new Upper School girls. AIS Allied will host a panel of alumnae later this year to share their unique Agnes Irwin experiences and talk about their paths to success.

International Day of the Girl Assembly for Lower SchoolOn Friday, October 2, leadership from the Council for the Advancement of Girls presented an assembly for the Lower School to commemorate International Day of the Girl Child. The representatives shared stories from different girls around the world and then asked the Lower Schoolers to shout out words to describe a girl; “awesome” was a favorite.

Middle and Upper School Students Participating in National Research Studies: This year, both Middle and Upper School students will be part of national research studies. Eighth graders will continue to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded survey of attitudes toward STEM. On October 28, Upper Schoolers completed a survey about their school experiences conducted by New York Times best-selling author Rachel Simmons and Dr. Michele Tugade of Vassar College.

Leading For Change: On Saturday, October 31, the Council for the Advancement of Girls hosted the third annual Leading for Change (L4C) conference, open to all high school girls interested in leadership. This year’s theme, Bridging the Gap, addressed various career fields in which women have not traditionally held leadership positions. To read more about the conference, click here.  

CAG Beyond AIS

Take the Lead Review: This summer, CAG launched a new program for Lower School students that aimed to highlight the ways in which girls can apply leadership skills both on and off the athletic field. Through a sampling of sports such as basketball, field hockey and squash, the group learned about the importance of balancing competitiveness with collaboration, resilience and communication while working to achieve their goals.

National Coalition of Girls’ Schools Board Meeting: Mariandl traveled to the Marlborough School in Los Angeles, CA in October for an NCGS board meeting. Dr. Robin Berman, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who focuses on increasing healthy child development by strengthening the parent-child bond, spoke to the board about her new book, Permission to Parent.

How Do You See Your Selfie?: Real Girls. Real Voices. Real Impact. These words perfectly embody the Center for the Advancement of Girls’ newest leadership initiative. On Saturday, October 24, CAG welcomed 50 fifth- and sixth-grade girls from around the area to the first of two leadership workshops to be offered this year. “How Do You See Your Selfie?” was an opportunity for emerging girl leaders that incorporated fun, interactive, and reflective activities designed to encourage girls to think about who they are and what they stand for.

One of CAG’s central tenets is the belief that all girls have the ability to lead. Keeping this idea at the core, the Center’s program coordinator, Alison Brant, collaborated with Middle School class deans Katie Cooper and Cathy Lynch to develop a program that thoughtfully engaged fifth- and sixth-grade girls about their potential as leaders. From Middle School, history and theater teacher Ann Ramsey, English teacher Leslie Hahne and science teacher Jennifer White served as workshop coordinators. 

In small groups, girls were encouraged to hone in on their voice and identity by distinguishing between how they are perceived by others and how they perceive themselves, and identifying what is most important to them. They learned that while values may differ, it is important to both appreciate those variances and hold onto what you believe. Each girl constructed a “selfie” that captured characteristics that make her unique and reflected some of the lessons learned from the day’s activities. The workshop wrapped up with a lively discussion about what students learned about themselves as leaders.

Vision 2020 National Congress: The goal of Vision 2020 is to work with like-minded individuals and organizations to achieve parity between men and women, both economically and socially, by the year 2020, which is the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment. Mariandl was invited to speak at Vision 2020’s National Congress in Nashville, TN about what works in the education of girls that will contribute to Vision 2020’s goals. With speaking partners Anthony Stevenson, Director of Secondary Education for the Radnor Township School District, and Jill Tiegjen, CEO of National Women’s Hall of Fame, Mariandl talked about her experiences at Agnes Irwin that can serve as a model for schools around the country.


On the Horizon

What Do You Want On Your Pizza? CAG’s next Middle School leadership workshop will be held Saturday, February 20, 2016, from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Agnes Irwin School. All fifth- and sixth-grade girls from the area are invited to attend. To register, contact Alison Brant, program coordinator for CAG, at

Women’s Leadership Journeys Speaker Series: Emily Bittenbender, the Managing Partner of Bittenbender Construction, will speak to Upper School students on April 19, 2016. 



Nicole Pullen Ross
October 6, 2015

Nicole Pullen Ross, Managing Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for Goldman Sachs' Private Wealth Management, served as our first Women’s Leadership Journeys speaker on Tuesday, October 6. Ms. Ross spoke to Upper School students about her path to leadership and the lessons she learned along the way. She left the girls with a sound piece of advice: "When you go into something to do good, don’t worry if you’ll end up doing well —follow your passion and be awesome!”

Dr. Ken Ginsburg
October 20, 2015

Back by popular demand, Dr. Ken Ginsburg spoke to our students and parent community about success and resilience in his talk, Raising Kids to Thrive, on Tuesday, October 20. Dr. Ginsburg, who recently published a book by the same name in collaboration with his daughters, emphasized stress and emotional management. Read more about Dr. Ginsburg’s visit here.


The Agnes Irwin School
Ithan Avenue & Conestoga Road  •  Rosemont  •  PA 19010   •  Tel 610-525-8400

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