The USD Women in Philanthropy held its annual event Saturday Sept. 11. USD Women in Philanthropy, a part of the USD Foundation, is a group of women alumni dedicated to supporting USD’s current students and the Vermillion community. The USD Women in Philanthropy event is an opportunity for members to be recognized for their contributions and hear from groups who have benefited from the philanthropic organization.
Abuk Jiel graduated from USD in the spring of 2021. She now serves as the director of development for USD Women in Philanthropy.
“Each year we plan an annual Women in Philanthropy event, and our main goal is to get our USD women back together. I think one of the main goals is to really show just how much these women can do when they come together, and amazing things happen,” Jiel said.
There are four main initiatives the USD Women in Philanthropy are supporting this year. The main initiative is the President’s Senior Leadership Institute, followed by three other initiatives: the Native Student Services Learning Living Community, USD Kundsen School of Law Women’s Leaders Lecture Series and the Cultural Wellness Coalition, Jiel said.
“(The President’s Senior Leadership Institute) is a program that’s offered for seniors within their last year, to gain that real world professional development and gain those soft skills that they never would have obtained inside of the classroom. And it’s also a great way for our students to connect with alumni,” Jiel said.
Some of the ways USD Women in Philanthropy has helped USD in the past, Jiel said, include working to fund and support Charlie’s Cupboard and student mental health.
Ally Feiner is a junior at USD currently serving as the Student Government Association President. Feiner said she got started with Women in Philanthropy when she began her term as president in March 2021.
“It’s a really great cause and I’m more than happy to work with empowering women,” Feiner said.
Marcus Destin is the Social Media Coordinator for USD and attended the event as a representative of the Cultural Wellness Coalition.
“I’m here as a representative with Ashley Charlie, as students, as we tell the group about what we’ve done and thank them for awarding us and giving us an opportunity to expand our organization and our goals,” Destin said.
Feiner said USD Women in Philanthropy has been a great resource for Vermillion and USD students.
“Women in Philanthropy has brought in a new light to Vermillion. They totally understand what it’s like to be a college student, they’ve been able to impact students so various denominations. So, they support things in the Muenster University Center… they’ve given funding to students. With COVID-19 happening, the pandemic has really been an opportunity for them to give back. Along with that, a lot of them work in the healthcare field, and so they’ve used their talents toward various communities throughout South Dakota,” Feiner said.
Jiel said around 140 women attended the event, but closer to 500-600 women are involved with USD Women in Philanthropy in some capacity, including through social media.
“One thing that I continue to hear from women was just the impact of hearing from the individuals who are running these programs is very eye opening, and also very humbling. That’s something that you tend to forget when you’re an alumni, and you’re so far removed. You don’t really think about your time at USD and just being able to really reflect on all the amazing things that happen,” Jiel said.