Walsh University Women’s Committee Begins 53rd Year with Renewed Optimism

The Walsh University Women’s Committee began its 53rd year of service to Walsh at their May 10 Spring Luncheon by bidding farewell and sincere thanks to Jacqueline Oprean, ’05 and ‘13, who served as President for the past three years.  The Committee also recognized long-time committee member Mary Christine “Chris” Sbaraglia with the prestigious Jane Schirack Community Commitment Award. New officers welcomed at the event include President Jo Kula, Vice President Carolyn Gacioch, Shirlee Krane as Treasurer, Chris Sbaraglia as Recording Secretary, and Mary Jane O’Brien as Corresponding Secretary. Each of the officers have served on the Women’s Committee for many years.

It was a tumultuous few years during the tenure of outgoing Oprean, who began her tenure as President at the start of the COVID pandemic. The opportunities to hold events came to a halt. They made several adjustments to keep their mission of service and fundraising moving forward, including moving their in-person Fashion Show to an Online Auction. The pandemic, combined with a changing, aging membership, made for some challenges. However, the Executive Leadership team stepped up and began working to “re-imagine” the Women’s Committee to include fewer official meetings, find more ways to engage in events on Walsh’s campus, adjust meeting times to allow more working women to attend, and work toward streamlined and purposeful events which might allow for new membership opportunities from younger women in the future.

“I’m excited about the year ahead,” said Oprean, who will stay on as a member. “We are moving to a pledge system which will allow those who have the means to offer a larger pledge to the committee to do so and may also reach new membership without such means to give as much. We are also planning for a February event with a keynote speaker to attract new visitors to Walsh University and, prayerfully, new membership to the committee. There are lots of exciting changes to look forward to, and I know these ladies will pull it off because they have ALWAYS come through. They just get it done!”

The luncheon was especially meaningful during the presentation of the Jane Schirack Community Commitment Award, named in honor of Schirack, who was the first President of the Walsh University Women’s Committee. This year’s award was presented to Chris Sbaraglia, one of the first women admitted to what was known at the time as Walsh College in 1966, when it became a coeducational institution. Then, in 2009, Sbaraglia became a member of the Walsh Women’s Committee at the urging of her husband Greg, a Walsh alumnus and past president of the Alumni Board of Trustees. She serves as a member of the Women’s Committee Executive Committee, co-chaired the Passport to Italy event, and regularly assists with events such as the Boot Scootin’ BBQ, Kentucky Derby party, Fall Auction and many other events through the years.

When receiving the award, she said, “I understand how expensive college is for these students and that’s why what we do is so important.”

Over the years the Women’s Committee has raised enough funds to award scholarships to hundreds of Walsh University students in need, including 12 that will be awarded this year.