Keynote with Fordham President
Tania Tetlow Opened Women’s Summit

portrait of Tania Tetlow, standing in a hallway, wearing a dress and smiling; Fordham Women's Summit: Philanthropy, Empowerment, Change
The sixth annual Fordham Women’s Summit, held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus on Oct. 19, included discussions with women business leaders who were “firsts” in a variety of fields — corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship, education, and others. Kicking off the day was a keynote conversation featuring one of Fordham’s firsts, the University’s first woman president, Tania Tetlow.

The former law professor, who served as president of Loyola University New Orleans for four years, was officially installed as the 33rd president of Fordham University on Oct. 14. She is the first layperson and first woman to lead the Jesuit University of New York in its 181-year history.

In her talk with New York Times best selling author Adriana Trigiani, Tetlow discussed the power of mentorship for women in business and the importance of supporting the next generation because they will become catalysts for change. She learned those lessons, she said, from her own late mentor, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, the mother of the late journalist Cokie Roberts.

“She really taught me that when you get to go through a door as a woman, that’s so hard-fought, sometimes there’s this temptation to think that the young women who are coming behind you are whining and they don’t really appreciate what they have and all of that — but she was determined to not just help them through that door, but to smash the door down,” she said.

Mentorship has also been valuable to Trigiani, who shared three inspiring tips from one of her own mentors: “You’ve got to pick the thing that you like to do. Then the second thing—you’ve got to be the best at it. And the third thing is to serve humanity.”

You’ve got to pick the thing that you like to do. Then the second thing—you’ve got to be the best at it. And the third thing is to serve humanity.”

Efforts to lift others up, to promote diversity, and to carry those missions forward by supporting future changemakers encompass what Tetlow said the Women’s Summit was all about.

She emphasized that women leaders need to teach the next generation how to both find a purpose and to learn “effective activism” — how to really bring about meaningful conversation and change.

“How do you really sit at the table with complexity? How do you find a way to turn up the pressure from the outside, but also engage from the inside?” she said. “It’s all of that work, and to find your purpose in life — and we’re not going to tell you what it is, and it will be different across all the diversity, including ideological diversity of our students — but having that vocation in life of that thing that makes you excited.”

Tetlow is a graduate of Tulane University and Harvard Law School, Tetlow herself has been a changemaker for decades — as a scholar, professor, federal prosecutor, community advocate, and university leader. When the Board of Trustees announced her appointment in February, Tetlow said she was “honored beyond measure” to have been chosen as Fordham’s next president, and she pledged to come to the University with “my whole self — as a leader and a teacher, as a wife and a mom, and a person of faith.”