NEW YORK—The Columbia Athletics’ Women’s Leadership Council celebrated its 10th Anniversary with its annual fall 2017 event last evening at Barney’s in New York City. The event honored the founders of the The Council: Lisa Carnoy '89CC, Donna MacPhee '89CC, Philippa Portnoy '86BC and former Columbia Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education Dr. M. Dianne Murphy.


Founded in 2007, the Columbia’s Women’s Leadership Council is a leadership giving recognition society for women. Since its inception, Council members have contributed over $3.6 million in leadership support to the Athletics annual funds. In Fiscal Year 2017, The Women's Leadership Council contributed more than $580,000 and comprised of 162 members making it the most successful year to date. In Fiscal Year 2015, new levels of membership within the Council were rolled out: Silver membership, marked by cumulative annual gifts of $2,500 or more to The Fund for Excellence and/or Columbia Athletics’ 31 varsity sports programs over the course of the fiscal year (July 1-June 30), and Blue & White membership, marked by cumulative annual gifts of $1,000.


To make your immediate impact, join The Women’s Leadership Council on Giving Day, October 18. Gifts at The Women’s Leadership Council level are matched with a 10 percent bonus to the women’s sports program of the donors’ choice:


For more information on The Women’s Leadership Council, click here:


Those in attendance on Thursday evening heard about the council’s impact from the perspective of coaches, alumni and athletics staff. Campbell Family Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Peter Pilling served as host of the event, briefly gave an update of Columbia’s fall sports and introduced each of the four leaders. He concluded by presenting gifts to each of the four founding leaders.


Murphy reflected about how much Columbia giving has expanded, partially due to the Women’s Leadership Council.


“This is emotional for me and overwhelming,” Murphy said. “I love Columbia and Barnard so much. Thank you to Peter, who has always been so supportive of me. In November 2004, our annual fund giving totals for men’s and women’s sports were less than a half-million dollars. We now, consistently, raise $3 million in annual fund support for our sports. Great improvement. This council is all about relationships and friendships. In the beginning, I had an idea but these three handled the execution. I love Columbia, I will always cheer for Columbia Blue.”


Donna MacPhee spoke about the friendships and relationships that make Columbia Athletics special.


“We have the grit, pride, compassion for one another here at Columbia,” MacPhee said. “As we grow our programs and continue to be successful, those friendships are something we wish that every student-athlete will feel.”


Phillipa Portnoy echoed the WLC’s key values of friendship and relationships.


“One of the things I love about the WLC is the multigenerational aspect of it,” Portnoy said. “I have friends that I’ve met through the council and have built great support. It’s been wonderful working with everyone, including the athletic department staff and it’s great what we’ve accomplished. I’m looking forward to the next 10 years.”


Lisa Carnoy then spoke about Murphy and the leadership she provided and continues to provide to the council, along with a variety of facets that make her involvement in the WLC rewarding.


“Dianne’s leadership set an example for everyone including myself,” Carnoy said. “My involvement with the Women’s Leadership Club has been extremely rewarding in three basic ways: friendship, leadership and support. The friendships I’ve formed—friends I’ve had since my college days, friends that I’ve met recently, friends among the coaches and staff—are all something I cherish. Leadership. I’ve been reflecting a lot and I know how much Title IX changed my life. Competing in sports was absolutely critical to all aspects of my life. When I think of the caliber of the leadership in Columbia athletics, I’m blown away. Our coaches truly inspire me in many ways. It’s exciting to see the momentum in our sports. To know that we’re competing at the Olympics and for Ivy League Championships is an incredible accomplishment. Whatever we can do to help get the message out, support the athletes and help us be successful. I’m excited for the next decade.”


Speakers also included Dean of Barnard College Avis Hinkson, Columbia field hockey coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols, former soccer player Joan Campion ‘92CC and former basketball player Katie Day Benvenuto ‘03CC. Benvenuto toasted the four leaders and Nelson-Nichols spoke about the immediate impact on her program that the Women’s Leadership Council has provided.