Samford’s Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives and the School of the Arts cohosted a special luncheon this week in honor of Women’s History Month featuring Samford alumna Jenna Cassese. Cassese is a twice-graduate of Samford having earned a B.A. in English in 1970 and a M.S. in Education in 1977. She sat down with Samford’s Vice President for Marketing and Communication, Betsy Holloway, to discuss her impressive career in the health care industry and how she helped pave the way for working women today.
To the audience filled with students, faculty, staff and friends of Samford, Cassese emphasized that women need to be brave in the workplace and to have ambition. Holloway thanked Cassese for being a pioneer for women today. “We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us,” Holloway said. A single mother, Cassese began her career later in life as an English teacher in the Birmingham public school system and then moved into the marketing of psychiatric health care facilities. Over her 20-year career, she created a niche in the health care field and moved through the ranks to become an executive with Mediplex in Boston, MA.
In addition to the interview, the event included a luncheon and tour of the Cassese Rehearsal Suite located in Brock Hall which was made possible by a gift from Cassese and her late husband Joe.
“Joe would be happy that we have provided a place where students can practice and get better and better,” she said.
The family was also treated to an impromptu concert in Dean Joe Hopkins office where faculty member Jason Terry played the recently refurbished grand piano that was given to the School of the Arts by Cassese.
At the conclusion of the luncheon, Cassese was presented with a resolution from University President Andrew Westmoreland which reflected her long-time support of Samford and it was declared that the March Women’s History Month Lunch and Learn will be designated at the Jenna Cassese Women in Leadership Presentation.
In addition to her role as a long-time donor of Samford, Cassese also served on the Samford Board of Trustees for 11 years. Currently she is an advisory board member for the School of the Arts and a life-time member of the Legacy League. She is a parent and grandparent of Samford graduates.
Joe Hopkins, dean of the School of the Arts, said of the Cassese’s generosity to Samford, “In addition to Jenna’s legacy to the advancement of women in the workplace, the Cassese family has been a model of support for our programs. Our students enjoy and benefit from their heartfelt gifts which have included both a cherished Steinway and the donation of their home which in turn provided funding for our rehearsal hall.”
Women’s History Month at Samford continues with additional events including Flowers that Empower on March 11, a Prom Dress Donation Drive March 16-27, Women’s History Doc and Discussion March 25 and the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series featuring local author Patti Callahan Henry on March 31.