Mayor Tisdahl teaches leadership skills to NU women

Joseph Diebold

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl spoke at the Allen Center on Thursday about her experience as a female leader, as well as discussing hot-topic issues like town-gown relations.

The lecture was part of ANUW’s annual fall breakfast, which features a female speaker each year. About 130 women attended the event, which serves to kick off the association’s academic year.

Tisdahl, who was elected mayor in April 2009, shared her insights on her own leadership style, often through anecdotes from her career.

“I get by with a little help from my friends,” Tisdahl said. “It’s easy to lead from behind and that’s what works for me.”

Carol Michelini, current human resources member-at-large and former president of ANUW, praised Tisdahl’s hands-off approach to leadership.

“What I was impressed with was the fact she has figured out what she’s good at, and she’s not trying to be anybody other than who she is,” Michelini said. “For a long time there’s been one model of leadership: you have to be tough, hard-driving, and get yourself out there. What she’s saying is you can be who you are. If you know who you are and what you stand for, you can move from behind and you can lead as well.”

Tisdahl also spoke about the city’s future plans to improve town-gown relations, a topic that has made headlines recently with new information about the city’s ‘brothel law’ and the presence of a sellout crowd at Saturday’s football game.

“One of the things the city is looking at is we’ve abdicated our responsibility to communicate with Northwestern students,” she said. “We need to look at social media and do a better job of communicating directly with students.”

Tisdahl also discussed a plan with University President Morton Schapiro to place full-time NU staff in Evanston Township High School to help facilitate interactions between the two schools.

When asked what lessons she would like the women to take from her lecture, Tisdahl left the meeting on a light note.

“I hope they had a good time and have a little confidence in their mayor,” she said.

ANUW is a group of more than 230 women, all of whom are employed by the University. Founded in 1988, the group aims to enhance the career development of women at NU. While students cannot be involved directly with ANUW, the group works closely with the Women’s Center to provide support for female students on campus.

Current ANUW Vice President Beth Clifford Smith emphasized the importance of bringing in high-profile speakers like Tisdahl to further the group’s goals.

“It’s an excellent example of a woman who is in a role that not a lot of other women have,” Smith said. “Whenever we can hear from a woman who’s progressed to such a degree in her career, inevitably she has advice and wisdom that other women can benefit from.”

Previous speakers at ANUW events include women’s lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and Weinberg Dean Sarah Mangelsdorf.

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