7 stories of Brown women making a difference

We salute these remarkable Brown alumnae whose important work, ranging from working on the front lines of the pandemic to fighting for democracy, inspired us in 2020.

Generations of Brown alumnae have shown what it means to pursue "lives of usefulness and reputation" over the years. And this year was no different.

They took action to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. They tackled critical social justice issues. They fought for political change. They empowered others to make their voices heard. 

As we close the books on 2020, the Brown Women's Network looks back on some of these standout stories.

Megan Ranney MPH'10 RES'08
Photo courtesy of Researchers@Brown
At the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic

Megan Ranney MPH’10 RES’08 has become a household name during the pandemic, both for her insightful commentary and her efforts to help frontline workers. An associate professor of emergency medicine, emergency room physician, and assistant dean of the Brown Institute for Translational Sciences, Ranney has been hard at work testifying before Congress and appearing on news outlets since the pandemic began. She is working to create and build an organization to address Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages and is drawing up plans to help us stay safe this fall and winter.

A mother-daughter reflection on this time in history

For Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage ’86 DFA’11 hon., P’20 and her daughter Ruby Aiyo Gerber ’20, the challenges they’ve faced in 2020 have illuminated the importance of close bonds. In their interview with the Pembroke Oral History Project, the two chat about their experiences at Brown, living through the COVID-19 pandemic, and processing the realities of police violence.

All In: The Fight for Democracy, a new film by Liz Garbus ’92

Ahead of this year's critical election producer and director Liz Garbus ’92 began work on her latest documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy. The film examines the insidious nature of voter suppression and systemic oppression in the United States. Anchoring the film is Stacey Abrams, whose 2018 gubernatorial bid is the centerpiece of the story. In September, Garbus and Abrams joined the Watson Institute for a panel discussion about the film.

Kamren Gilbard '20Kamren Gilbard ’20 wins Friedman Award for dedication to improving others lives

Gilbard has made her impact felt beyond College Hill, earning the Susan Pilch Friedman ’77, P’08 Excellence Award in Women’s Leadership. Her many achievements as an undergraduate include teaching Providence students about how they can drive change through the political process, helping families connect with resources at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and serving as an academic coach for fellow Brown students. As an intern at the Office of the Child Advocate, she also helped families apply for victims’ compensation and created an initiative to connect children in foster care with free extracurricular activities. Gilbard received the Noah Krieger ’93 Award, a LINK award, and was a Fulbright semi-finalist. In June, she started her career in public service at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and/or a law degree.

The historic nomination of Janet Yellen ’67 LLD’98 hon.

Former Federal Reserve chair and economist Janet Yellen ’67 LLD’98 hon. is the nominee to become the next U.S. Treasury Secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would become the first woman to hold the position. In May 2017, Yellen delivered keynote remarks at the University’s 125 Years of Women at Brown conference (sponsored by the Women's Leadership Council), and was presented with the President’s Medal by President Christina H. Paxson, the highest award a Brown president can give.

Kristin Richardson Jordan

Civic engagement, activism, and leading with radical love

In the November episode of the Women’s Voices Amplified podcast, Almaz S. Dessie '07 MD'11 F'17 spoke with Kristin Richardson Jordan ’09 about her run for New York City Council, the late-night conversations at Brown that helped shape her worldview, and what we can all do to affect change locally.

Instagram Get out the vote campaignBrown Women’s Network shares alumnae “Get out the vote” messages

In the leadup to one of the biggest elections of our lifetime, Brunonian alumnae and students sent out a powerful message via social media: get out and vote! Videos and photos about voting plans and experiences were shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Among the many submissions, alumni trustee Joelle Murchison ’95 said: “There is power in our vote. People died so that we can have the right to make decisions for our nation. And so I encourage you: take this opportunity! Even if you never voted before. This is your time.”

Images credits: Megan Ranney courtesy of Researchers@Brown, Kristin Richardson Jordan ’09 by Jesse Herndon

What is the Brown Women’s Network?

This new initiative brings together Brown’s community of Brown women through a variety of programming such as podcasts, events, and communications.

Learn more.