Interim Penn Women's Center Director Elisa Foster has been selected as the center's permanent director.
Associate Vice Provost for University Life Will Atkins made the announcement on Feb. 10 in an email to affiliated students, University Life staff, and PWC stakeholders. Foster first came to Penn in 2017 from Robert Morris University, where she was the manager of the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship program. She was PWC’s associate director until January 2022, when she was appointed as the center’s interim director.
The PWC’s search for a new director began after former Director Sherisse Laud-Hammond left the position in December 2021. Laud-Hammond is now Penn’s senior director of alumni leadership and inclusion. The search for a new director was led by Atkins.
“Elisa brings extensive experience and knowledge that will continue to serve the Penn community, as she leads the center into its 50th year,” Atkins said in the announcement. “Since joining the center, Elisa has been an advocate and champion for gender equity and student empowerment through her advising, mentorship, and supervision in the center.”
PWC, located at 3643 Locust Walk, was founded in 1973 in response to a series of protests over sexual assault on campus. The center continues to serve as a resource for women and gender, sexual, and racial minorities, providing confidential support and hosting events related to gender equity.
Foster has a background in grant writing and strategic planning for Philadelphia-based nonprofit organizations. She has worked as a project assistant for Fairmount Ventures and as a development associate for the Women’s Business Development Center and Urban League of Philadelphia. Foster is also a board member of Pathways to Housing PA, which helps to secure housing for Philadelphians.
Recently under Foster’s leadership, the PWC was awarded a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators excellence award in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion category for the GenEq Pre-Orientation program.
Foster emphasized her excitement to continue contributing to the PWC’s efforts in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“Penn Women’s Center has been a critical resource at Penn for almost 50 years, and I am thrilled and humbled to serve as its next director,” Foster said. “I look forward to collaborating with our campus community to imagine the next 50 years of innovative programs and services. As always, PWC will engage with students and colleagues of all identities and experiences to promote gender equity, social justice, safety, and wellness.”