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Women Leaders in the Ignatian Family

Meet 21 Women Leading Ignatian Ministries

When Dr. Linda LeMura was named president of Le Moyne College in 2014, she became the first lay woman to hold that position at an American Jesuit college or university. Today, there have been eight more schools added to that list. “I’d call that progress!” Dr. LeMura says.

Dr. Linda LeMura talks with Le Moyne College students

That huge increase — one to nine schools with a female president in less than a decade — reflects the growth of women’s leadership across the Ignatian family. This expansion is evident in every area of Jesuit ministry: colleges and high schools, retreat centers and parishes, social justice organizations, Jesuit governance, and national networks.

This Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the work of just a tiny percentage of the women leaders who serve the church and the world through their leadership in Jesuit and Ignatian ministries. These leaders shared a bit about their work and how Ignatian spirituality shapes their lives. They also offered their perspectives on ways the Jesuits can continue to improve how they welcome, empower and support women leaders.

Throughout this feature is a call to further action: There has been progress on this front, certainly, but the work is far from complete. “Welcoming women (and their half of the talent pool) into leadership can’t be passive, a matter of mere politeness,” says Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham University. “It requires learning about the range of obstacles still facing women — from the grueling experience of being constantly underestimated, to the shocking level of violence in the home against those who do not obey. Until our institutions move beyond denial, they will continue to squander the talent of women and be complicit in a great injustice.”