CWEALF is honored that Karen DeMeola is one of our 2015 One Woman Makes a Difference Awardees.
As we countdown to the October 6th event (get your tickets here!) we have a chance to learn more about our honorees. To get beyond their impressive bios, we’ve asked each of the awardees several questions that illuminate even more about their own leadership journeys. Get to know 2015 awardee Karen DeMeola:
Karen DeMeola currently serves as Assistant Dean of Student Life at UConn School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from UConn and her J.D. from UConn School of Law. After graduation from law school, she was a civil rights litigator whose practice focused primarily on employment discrimination, police brutality and housing discrimination.
Dean DeMeola is the Vice President of the Connecticut Bar Association and serves on the board of the Family Equality Council. Her prior volunteer board service has included True Colors Inc.; the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity; and the Law School Admission Council Subcommittee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Issues.
Who is one woman that has made a difference to you and why?
My grandmothers both made significant difference in my life. They shared similar stories; immigrant parents and siblings, financial difficulties and the necessity to quit school in their early teens to work at the Seamless Rubber Factory in New Haven. Through both of them I learned that despite what life might throw at you, whether poverty, the loss of a job, a spouse or a child, we all have the strength to persevere. We might not all use that strength or know, in our darkest hour that we possess that power, but it is there. Their stories shaped how I think about love, loss, family, faith, and life. I miss them terribly but they are so much of who I am and how I see the world.
If you could sum up your life philosophy is one sentence, what would it be?
Live the best life you can, laugh a lot and let people know they are loved.
Looking back on your own leadership path, what advice would you share with younger women today?
I often tell young women to be true to themselves, to not compromise (too much), to learn from everyone they encounter and mentor those behind you. I realize that I say this from a privileged vantage point. It is not easy to stay the course and be outspoken about issues that are important especially when you are just building a professional identity. It is not easy to jump in and be a leader when there are political and social barriers to doing so. Young women who are hesitant to lead in their current workplace or who are unable to do so for other reasons should find other avenues to gain the experience whether through volunteer work, participation on boards of directors or community involvement. Watch leaders to determine what style works and what doesn’t. Be authentic and listen.
What is your favorite quote by a woman?
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.” - Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Interview by Kate Farrar, CWEALF Special Events Coordinator
By CWEALF at 13 Aug 2015, 15:01 PM
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