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Founders Week 2023

Founders Week 2024

Celebrating the Anniversary of the Founding of Moravian University

Friday, March 22 - Saturday, March 23

Moravian University and Theological Seminary is an institution founded by women and was the first to educate women. Join us in celebrating our alumnae, students, and the generations to come.


Friday, March 22

Morning Tea with First Lady Lea Grigsby P’22, P’26 (invitation only)
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Location: Peter Hall, Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus of Moravian University

Join First Lady Lea Grigsby P’22, P’26 for morning tea and refreshments, plus a presentation by local author Anne Supsic on the history behind her book, The Bookmark, which tells the story of Marquis de Lafayette and his relationship with a Moravian single sister.

Exhibit Tour with Cory Dieterly
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Location: Payne Gallery, Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus of Moravian University
Who: All are welcome, no registration is necessary.

Alumni are invited on a tour of the exhibit "Three Hundred Years: The Moravian Legacy of Education, Community, and Tradition (1724-2024)," which commemorates the Moravians' 300-year commitment to education, beginning with the renewed Church’s first school for children, established in Herrnhut, Germany in 1724, to present-day Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. The exhibition will feature a variety of objects and artifacts illustrating Moravian University's dedication to education and tradition, including antiquities, books, manuscripts, musical instruments, artwork, and rarely-seen archival photographs. The exhibition will also feature didactic material allowing visitors to learn more about the Moravian Church's educational philosophy and various traditions (expressed through music, food, and festivities) that unite the spirits of persons from globally disparate Moravian communities. This exhibit was curated by Moravian University and Seminary Archivist and Assistant to the Library Director, Cory Dieterly.

Anna Nitschmann Society Reception hosted by President Bryon and Lea Grigsby ’90, P’22, P’26  (invitation only)
Time: 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Location: Frueauff House
Who: Members of the Anna Nitschmann Society

President Bryon and Mrs. Lea Grigsby ’90, P’22, P’26 will host a meet-and-greet reception with our two scholarship recipients.

Saturday, March 23

Founders Forum

Founders Forum
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Location: Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz Center for Health Sciences

Join us for our inaugural symposium celebrating Moravian women and providing continuing professional development for students, alumnae, and friends of Moravian who identify as women.

  • 9 a.m. Welcome Breakfast and Registration
  • 10 a.m. Keynote Speaker with Q&A
  • 11 a.m. First Professional Development Breakout Session
  • 12 p.m. Lunch and Networking
  • 1:30 p.m. Second Professional Development Breakout Session
  • 2:45 p.m. Ending Celebration

Register by March 10

Keynote Speaker

Women Leading Women with Melissa Ludwig ’80, Moderated by Mary Kate Andris Ed.D. '96

This empowering session explores the remarkable career paths of women from college to post-career, highlighting the unique challenges faced in male-dominated industries. Melissa Ludwig ’80 has worked her way up from intern to CEO, and was the first woman in 100 years to be chosen to lead Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, New York City. She will share personal stories of triumph over adversity, addressing gender biases and stereotypes. The keynote focuses on leveraging networks and building a personal brand, showcasing the power of strategic connections and self-promotion. Whether you're starting your career or seeking to inspire change, join us for a dynamic, Ted Talk-style discussion that celebrates the resilience, empowerment, and achievements of women, fostering an environment where women lead, uplift, and empower one another.

Melissa Ludwig is an insightful, strategic Board Director with public consumer products company board and executive experience. A nimble problem solver with an accomplished, longstanding business leadership career in retail having direct P&L accountability up to $600M and leading high-performing,  multidisciplinary organizations ranging in size up to 3,000. Melissa brings deep expertise in strategic planning, expense initiatives, business to consumer, risk management, and has a record of building new capabilities, positioning businesses for responsible growth and sustained success while achieving the optimal customer experience.

As an experienced Public Company Board Director, Board Chair of the Philadelphia NACD Chapter acting as President and CEO  of the corporation, and with deep governance experience, Melissa is seeking a Board Director and or role where her corporate expert skills in strategy, corporate consulting, coaching, DE&I, risk management, growth objectives and an understanding of consumer behaviors and experience can help lead to sustainable growth. She also is on the Board of the Forum of Executive Women,  Chair of Women in Leadership, is an active Board Member and Chair Nominating and Governance Girard College, Drexel’s  Raj & Kamla Gupta Governance Institute Director Education Advisory Board, Villanova Adjunct Business Professor, and the co-founder of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. 

Melissa is an angel investor and conducts due diligence to evaluate the investment viability of early-stage companies across the Real Estate, Medical Device, Technology, and Healthcare industries. This work along with Melissa’s passion for business innovation has resulted in investments in the Healthcare and Technology space and Board advisory roles, providing leadership team counsel and networking advancements. As a trusted consultant and career advisor, Melissa has also partnered with multiple consumer and life science business entrepreneurs in the market developing organizational structuring, business planning, career strategies, and executive talent acquisition with a focus on women-founded companies. 

As a Senior and Group Vice President at Macy’s, Melissa led multiple M&A integrations and brand conversions, implemented technology innovations, supply chains, and built omnichannel capabilities, launched new business operations, and restructured organizations maximizing efficiencies and performance. Serving as a valued leadership mentor, she advanced executive teams and steered organizations through significant business reinvention, transformation, and growth while mitigating financial,  operational, and talent risks. Partnering with Bain & Co., Melissa also led the successful pilot program for the corporation’s business localization strategy, with decentralized merchandising and planning functions, paving the course for Macy’s national operating model.  

Throughout her career, Melissa’s leadership accountability spanned the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington,  D.C., and Baltimore markets with direct VP-level executive teams and organizations across Operations, Merchandising,  Planning, Visual, Human Resources, and Asset Protection. Prior to her senior executive appointments as the lead market expert, Melissa served as the youngest, first female Vice President in over 100 years to lead the iconic Herald Square 34th Street location in NYC where she steered a remarkable turnaround generating greater than $600M in sales and having led the business in major metropolitan markets, including the restoration and market launch of Center City location in Philadelphia.  She has also cultivated a strong c-suite professional network, with longstanding relationships among the business, civic and cultural communities through her external-facing. Melissa has served on numerous non-profit organizations, and boards including the Philadelphia Convention Visitors Bureau, Vice  President of Susan G. Komen, ALS, Girard College, Fashion Incubator Philadelphia, and Mind Your Brain. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Organizational and Clinical Counseling Psychology from Moravian  College.

Keynote Moderator

Mary Kate Andris, Ed.D.

Mary Kate Andris

Before being named President and Chief Executive Officer of the CIVIC Leadership Institute, Dr. Andris served as a Director of Council Partnerships for the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). There she supported more than 30 Council CEOs and their Board Chairs in annual and strategic planning for growth and sustainability.

Before joining GSUSA, Dr. Andris served as President and CEO of the YWCA South Hampton Roads where she worked to increase revenue from philanthropic sources and build awareness of the YWCA South Hampton Roads’ brand.  During her tenure, the organization received its largest private gift ever: $2 million from MacKenzie Scott, philanthropist and author.

Dr. Andris serves on the Virginia Council on Women and was an Inside Business Women in Business Honoree. She holds two degrees from Widener University: a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Management from Moravian University.

Mary Kate and her husband, Kevin, have two teenage boys and a dog named Nyx.

Professional Development Breakout Session Topics and Speakers

Genesis Ortega

Unlocking Opportunities: Leveraging Your Network for Success with Genesis Ortega ’13 

We will explore how to utilize your professional network to its fullest potential. We will discuss good practices for building and maintaining valuable connections, effective networking techniques, and how to leverage your network for career growth and opportunities. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting in your career, you will gain insights into harnessing the power of your network for personal and professional success. 

Genesis Ortega is the Communications Manager for the City of Allentown. She previously served as a Regional Affairs and Politics Reporter as well as an on-air TV and radio personality for PBS39 and WLVR News 91.3 FM. Prior to that, she worked for former U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent. In 2019 she was named Hispanic Businessperson of the Year during the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards. She also serves as a Board member of the Fé Foundation program. Genesis is a graduate of Allentown Central Catholic High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in International Management and French from Moravian College. 

Helen Florence Kurczynski

Developing Moral Confidence in Ethically Complex Times with Helen Kurczynski S’17  

Having positive leadership attributes means little without developing the moral confidence needed to confront unethical behaviors and questionable practices. To both understand the importance of moral confidence in the workplace and be willing to take action when ethical values are being compromised, we need to first examine who we are and what is important to us. During this program, we will define moral confidence, learn how to recognize it, and cultivate strategies for exercising moral confidence when facing ethical challenges.

Helen Florence Kurczynski is an Advance Practice Board Certified Chaplain who currently serves as the Director of Spiritual Care and Education at Mount Sinai West in New York City. Prior to this she was the Director of Chaplaincy Services at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, where her work extended beyond hospital walls to partner directly with community-based organizations.

Helen’s journey into healthcare chaplaincy began with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, in New York City. She went on to complete her Master of Divinity degree (MDiv) at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, PA, and her clinical chaplain residency at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA.

Helen is Buddhist and has been practicing with the New Kadampa Tradition for over 15 years. She was born in Cambridge, England and earned a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Performing Arts from Middlesex University in London, UK. Helen’s special interests lie in the development of practical approaches that effectively support staff spiritual wellness; nurturing a sacred experience for patients and their families during times of serious illness, trauma, and death; and moral injury in the context of healthcare workplace violence.

Dr. Katie P. Desiderio

Look Within: Lead with Your Values with Dr. Katie P. Desiderio 

At the individual level of leadership, you choose who and how to Be. In the spirit of enacting what it means to Be Proximal, we will uncover the power of leading with purpose, where we keep learning and growth at the heart of how we work with and through others. At the group level, we uncover how to be brighter, better, richer, and stronger—together!

Katie Desiderio's personal mission is grounded in her r2C model, where she has devoted her work to recognize what we give our time and energy to grow, to reflect on how we [choose to] interact with and see the world, and, at the heart of her approach, to connect with why this fuels transformative growth. This model is delicately nurtured in the interplay of our mindset and our [mindful] behaviors, so when she falls along the way, she chooses to fall up. This inspires her to lead with grace while tickling curiosity and encouraging discovery in working with and through others.

About the Founders Week Graphic

The Founders Week graphic represents select women who have helped shape our beloved Moravian University throughout the years. From left to right, the women pictured are:

Benigna Von Zinzendorf

Von Zinzendorf is the founder of the girl’s school in Germantown, PA on May 4, 1742. It moved to Bethlehem seven weeks later, relocated to Nazareth in 1745, then returned permanently to Bethlehem in 1749. There were 25 pupils at the school, and they were taught reading, writing, religion, and household arts. The girl's school, which is now Moravian University, was the first boarding school for girls in the 13 British American colonies.

Caroline Cameron Lockhart

Enrolled at Moravian in 1888, Lockhart's diversified career included work as an investigative reporter, journalist, editor, newspaper owner, novelist, activist, historian, horsewoman, rancher, and homesteader. While at Moravian, she was caught dangling out of a second-story window in a harness designed for a fire escape that she tried on as a dare!

A. Kathrine Miller ’34

Miller taught biology at Moravian from 1936-1941 before receiving her Ph.D. in bacteriology from Cornell University. In the late 1940s, she developed the drug Caronomide, which led to the development of antibiotics and other drugs used in chemotherapy. The A. Kathrine Miller Super Lab on Moravian's campus was dedicated in her honor in 2015.

Jennifer Jimenez ’14

Jimenez is a lifelong learner. She completed her degree as a single mom working 50+ hours a week. Embracing the Moravian community, Jiminez has continued to stay involved by volunteering for the Career Center, attending alumni events, being a part of the Moravian Alumni and Parent Program, and serving as secretary of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. 

Moravian University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have any questions regarding physical accessibility, please contact the Alumni Engagement Office at 610 861-1366 at least one week prior to this event.