An employee newsletter from Human Resources

February 2016


Gabby VanAlstine
Gabby VanAlstine

Spotlight: Women’s Leadership Book Club

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Gabby VanAlstine, human resources director at IU Kokomo, along with several IUK colleagues, recently started a new group on campus: The Women’s Leadership Book Club. HR Today interviewed Gabby about this new venture and why she started it. Gabby hails from Pittsburgh, PA and joined IUK in January 2015.

HR Today: Tell us about the women’s leadership book club. How did it come about?

Gabby: It was something I wanted to start based on a great experience with a similar club at my previous employer, One Click Ventures, in Greenwood, Indiana. I loved the idea. After joining IU, I discovered the very strong sense of community within the Kokomo culture, so it felt like a natural fit!

HR Today: What is the purpose of the group?

Gabby: We developed our purpose together, as a group. This is what we hope to accomplish:

  • To Learn. We love learning, and regular meetings help keep us accountable. Naturally, we learn from the books we read, but we also learn from each other and our shared experiences.
  • To Build a Community. We strive to connect not only as colleagues, but as friends, leaders, and women in the world of work. Face-to-face and online meetings help strengthen our connection and sense of community.
  • To Lead: We explore the challenges and opportunities of women’s leadership, including the very act of leading. We intend to help each other develop into transformational female leaders. Women need to actively lean in, sponsor, and encourage each other as we build our careers and forge our own paths, whether at work, at home, or in the community.
  • To Take Time for Ourselves.  Being a woman at work and at home and just being awesome in general takes a lot of time. Women have a tendency to make more time for others than for ourselves. This club helps us put ourselves and our development first. We have a fun time doing it too!
  • To Strive for Balance: When the lines between work and home become blurred, neither place gets our best self. On this topic, we brainstorm, support, and commiserate.

HR Today: What has surprised you and other members about this group?

Gabby: The similarity of the challenges we all face. The group is still fairly new, but we’ve learned, for example, that we all face the email monster; we over commit; and we strive to seek balance. The commonalities in this group are striking!


Photo of members of book club
The smiling faces of IUK leadership book club members are Maria Ahmad, Sarah Byrd, Ashlee Shoaff, Nicole Miller, Tara Scott, and Alisha Referda.

HR Today: You mentioned the potential of how a group such as yours can lead to “engagement.” Can you say more about that?

Gabby: I am hopeful we can strengthen the sense of community we’re creating. According to the Gallup polls, engagement and satisfaction are closely correlated to having a friend at work. I believe the relationships formed through this group will help our members feel this, which, in turn, leads to engagement.

HR Today: You’re currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. What other books are on your list?

Gabby: Bossy Pants by Tina Fey, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

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