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Employee Recognition

Sisterhood Dinner Features Equity for Women Awards Presentation

Each year during March at NC State, a slate of events is planned to recognize women during Women’s History Month, or Women’s HERstory Month, as some at the university may call it. But the celebration of women at the university starts ostensibly each year in February at the Sisterhood Dinner, co-hosted by the Council on the Status of Women and the NC State University Women’s Center.

Rousing Speech

This year’s dinner was the 39th annual, and the theme for the dinner was “Visibility + Vision: Claiming Your Space at NC State.” Ada Baldwin, director of housekeeping at NC State, delivered a rousing and emotional keynote speech. The 600 attendees at the dinner cried and laughed as they listened to Baldwin and gave her a standing ovation when she concluded her speech. 

Ada Baldwin, director of housekeeping at NC State, was the keynote speaker at the 2024 Sisterhood Dinner.

Who Are the Equity for Women Award Winners?

One of the highlights of the dinner is the Equity for Women Awards presentation. The awards recognize students, staff and faculty for their standout efforts in advocating for gender equity. Seven members of the Pack received awards this year for an array of accomplishments outlined below.

Faculty Winner

Haddy Njie received not one but two nominations from students whom she has taught, mentored and inspired. In their nomination letters, they wrote about the positive impact Njie has had not only on women at NC State but across the world. Over the past 12 months and for much of her life, Njie has been crusading for women’s and girls’ rights in Gambia, her home country, and at NC State. Through Gambian Girl Power, the nonprofit organization she founded in 2018, Njie and her team of NC State interns work to educate and empower girls in Gambia through lessons of teamwork, self-love, ambition and self-advocacy. This service has been an inspiring and invaluable opportunity to engage in international development and human rights work for those interns.

Students who take one course with Njie often take many more, citing her powerful aura, empathy and the equitable approach she takes when leading her classes. Without a doubt, Njie’s leadership, service and scholarship have significantly contributed to closing the gender gap in educational opportunities locally and globally, making her an exemplary figure in advancing women’s equity.

Haddy Njie
Teaching Associate Professor in International Studies, Interdisciplinary Affairs and Partnerships

Staff Winner

Lisa LaBarbera-Mascote has served the NC State community for 19 years, emphasizing a student-centered approach and building relationships. As senior director of the campus community centers for the past two years, she has prioritized students’ needs, particularly those who use the centers. LaBarbera-Mascote’s dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging permeates her collaborations with various university partners. Notably, she advocates for members of our university community who are pregnant and those who are parents — a cause she championed during her tenure advising the Council on the Status of Women.

Over the past two years, LaBarbera-Mascote has collaborated with the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity and other university entities to assess and enhance lactation spaces at NC State. LaBarbera-Mascote was part of the team of staff and faculty that successfully advocated for the implementation of a paid family leave policy in 2019, contributing to a supportive environment for pregnant individuals and parents at the university. These initiatives also contribute to the recruitment and retention of women and all parents at NC State. LaBarbera-Mascote’s commitment to gender equity and inclusion requires sustained advocacy, collaboration and resilience. Her ongoing dedication exemplifies her role as a leading advocate for gender equity at NC State, demonstrating the enduring impact of her work over the years.

Lisa LaBarbera-Mascote
Senior Director, Campus Community Centers, Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity

Student Winner

Lauren Pharr is a consummate advocate for women, Black and Indigenous people and other people of color. Pharr, a Ph.D. candidate in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, co-founded Field Inclusive, a nonprofit that amplifies and supports marginalized and historically excluded biologists and researchers who work professionally outdoors. Field Inclusive focuses on eliminating the barriers to access for those who are often missing in these fields and feel unsafe in environments that majority-identifying individuals may not normally perceive as threatening. Pharr also works with local parks and in underrepresented communities to establish safe environmental programming to get historically underrepresented groups excited about nature and the outdoors.

As a Black woman in a historically white male-dominated field, Pharr has been monumental in breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes that women, especially Black women, can and should do wildlife work. In the College of Natural Resources, Pharr serves as a peer mentor and advocate for minoritized individuals and a member of the college DEI Committee and its Graduate Student DEI Coalition. She received the 2023 North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award for Young Conservationist of the Year, the highest state honor in the fisheries and wildlife space, for her research and diversity, equity and inclusion activities.

Lauren Pharr
Ph.D. Candidate, Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, College of Natural Resources

Group Winner

In response to a well-documented gender imbalance in gaming spaces, the Femme Game Night Team exhibited leadership and service by securing resources to launch the popular Femme Game Nights Event Series at NC State University Libraries. Libraries employees Courtney Hewett and Lara Fountaine lead this collaborative group. They recognized the importance of student involvement in the project and enlisted library student assistants Jayden Sansom and Marie Schwartz to co-lead, ensuring insight and creativity. Together, the group shares responsibilities and fosters a supportive environment.

Femme Game Night Team Members
Courtney Hewett, University Library Specialist
Lara Fountaine, Community Engagement Librarian
Jayden Sansom, Senior, Computer Science, College of Engineering
Marie Schwartz, Senior, Computer Science, College of Engineering

An observational study conducted in  2018 confirmed that the overwhelming majority of users of the Libraries game space were male, which contrasted with national gaming demographics that showed women represented 46% of gamers. Femme Game Nights addressed this gap by implementing “generous exclusion,” a concept Priya Parker outlines in her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters.  In the book, Parker writes that “diversity is a potentiality that needs to be activated.” That statement is why the founders of Femme Game Night believed they couldn’t wait for women to feel comfortable in spaces for gamers but needed to intentionally and explicitly create opportunities for them. Femme Game Nights provide a specific place, time and inclusive community for women and femme gamers to feel safe and be supported playing games.

Femme Game Night Team
University Libraries

Sisterhood Dinner Photo Gallery

Click on the first picture below and then click the arrows on the next page to view a gallery of photos from the Sisterhood Dinner.