The History and Reestablishment of the NC ACE Network
The American Council on Education established the National Identification Program (NIP) in 1977 to identify future women leaders, increase their visibility, and connect people who share a commitment to the advancement of women in academia. North Carolina was one of the first states to participate in the NIP, as it established the Women Administrators in North Carolina Higher Education (WANCHE) in 1977. WANCHE operated as a network rather than a membership organization. It was led by a state coordinator that was appointed by ACE and an executive board. For 35 years, WANCHE advanced women in higher education leadership in North Carolina by providing support and encouragement for future leaders, assisting in their professional development, and identifying new career opportunities.
In 1992 WANCHE commissioned a study to research the extent that women held administrative roles in higher education in North Carolina. The study exposed a need for a leadership program for women in North Carolina higher education institutions and inspired a group of thirteen women from UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University to develop BRIDGES, a women’s only leadership program that still continues to educate and connect women from four-year colleges and universities in North Carolina.
According to archival records, WANCHE leadership decided to discontinue the organization about 2012 and left the role of professional development and advancement of women in North Carolina higher education under BRIDGES.
The Reestablishment of the NC ACE Network
For more than five years, North Carolina went without an American Council on Education (ACE) Network of women leaders after the folding of Women Administrator in North Carolina Higher Education (WANCHE).
Barbara Waller, Director of Contracts and Grants at Winston-Salem State University, attended an ACE Regional Women’s Leadership Forum in Seattle, WA, in 2016, and through connections there, was asked by the ACE Inclusive Excellence Group to reignite the NC ACE Network. In February 2016, Alahna Booth who was then at Elon University, contacted Waller and began conversations with her, Amy Overman at Elon University, Paige Meltzer at Wake Forest University, and Gloria Thomas at UNC Chapel Hill. Under Waller’s leadership, regular conference calls began in November 2016, resulting in an initial face-to-face meeting in May 2017, hosted by Meltzer at Wake Forest. Waller and Meltzer, along with all other founding members of the Executive Board, held monthly conference calls to determine a plan of action for relaunching the Network. The group met on May 23, 2018 at Elon University to approve bylaws and elect officers. On this date, the North Carolina ACE Network of Women Leaders was officially reestablished with Sherrice Allen, Jennifer Burris, Elizabeth Keathley, Lisa LaBarbera-Mascote, Amy Overman, Lorna Ricotta, Sheri Schwab, Amy Strickland, and Gloria Thomas in attendance.