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Women of Canterbury Celebrates Leadership and Compassion

Meredith Berry-Toon

The Women of Canterbury (WOC) seeks to develop leadership potential in young women and instill an appreciation of the role women can play in local and global communities.

On Friday night, April 21, 250 of Canterbury's alumnae, faculty, staff, students, mothers, grandmothers, and friends gathered to celebrate the positive influence of the twenty-six-year organization and the tireless efforts of its founder Sandy Behan.

The program opened with a welcome from head of school Rachel Stone. "It is no surprise that this year's event boasts the largest number of alumni in attendance to date. We have nine of our past Women of Canterbury co-presidents with us this evening."

She also introduced an all-female student group of singers who performed a "mashup" of "True Colors," the 1986 Cyndi Lauper hit, and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. Piano teacher Amy Vinisko accompanied them on keyboard.

Following a dinner blessing, Rachel invited guests to enjoy a delicious buffet supper provided by Canterbury's dining hall staff. A slide show of more than 700 photos of WOC in action played throughout dinner.

After dinner, each of this year's three WOC co-presidents, Sinead O'Donnell '17, Sarah Buckingham '17, and Julia DellaRusso '17, narrated the history of WOC and thanked Sandy for her leadership and compassion in guiding young women at Canterbury for more than twenty-five years.

A former WOC member said, "Mrs. Behan is a role model for leadership." Adding, "I absolutely love Women of Canterbury and Mrs. Behan for her hard work and dedication to the club and the girls. She inspires me to do more."

Guest speaker Kate Briscoe '08, a Colgate University graduate (magna cum laude in Sociology and Religious Studies) and a former co-president of WOC, presented Sandy Behan with the woman of the year award. Kate is the director of early learning at an independent school in Brooklyn and is a proud advocate for all teachers, students, and families in her community.

Said Rachel Stone, "For more than a quarter of a century, the names "Mrs. Behan" and "Women of Canterbury" have been truly synonymous. We are profoundly grateful for the legacy Sandy has left our school and for the courage, character, and sense of community she has gifted to our female students and graduates."

In Sandy's acceptance speech, she thanked all of the people who encouraged her to create and sustain Women of Canterbury.

After Sandy's remarks, Bridget Murphy '17, Courtney Dunham '17, Jessica Garcia '19, Nelle Horvath '19, and Selina Xin '19 sang Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" a capella.

The Reverend Ebony Grisom '93 gave the final blessing. She received her M. Div. from Duke Divinity School and today is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in East Greenwich, RI. She is also founder of Mustard Seed Ministries, a women's ministry based in Providence, RI.

To view photos of the event, click here.