Three women in human sciences are being recognized for making a difference at Iowa State University.
Ann Gansemer-Topf, an assistant professor in the School of Education; Margaret Van Ginkel, a hotlines coordinator and human sciences specialist in family finance; and Britney Williams, a senior in kinesiology and health; are among 12 women featured in the 2017 Women Impacting ISU calendar.
The calendar, which is in its 11th year, is produced by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and honors women for their leadership and achievements in service, teaching, research, administration, or various other campus activities.
This year’s calendar will be officially unveiled during a reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, in the Sun Room and South Ballroom of the Memorial Union. The reception is free and open to the public. During and after the reception, 1,000 free copies of the calendar will be distributed.
An influencer with far reach
Gansemer-Topf is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s experts in student retention and success.
Her Iowa State colleagues say she is a respected scholar, administrator, and practitioner who is committed to making sure that future generations of Iowa State students are successful in their careers.
“Her work as an encourager of students signifies that her impact across the institution is far-reaching,” said Larry Ebbers, a University Professor Emeritus in the School of Education. “She is a role model for all women who are committed to ISU and who are on the forefront of leadership and change.”
When Gansemer-Topf started as a campus coordinator/minister at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, all student leaders were men. Her leadership and strong collaboration led to further integration of women into all areas of campus-leadership ministry.
Gansemer-Topf also expanded the representation of women during her time with Iowa State admissions. She conducted research to gain a better understanding of lower retention rates among marginalized groups and with her colleagues developed strategies and models to improve student success.
“I can think of few women at Iowa State as inspiring as Ann Gansemer-Topf,” said Shannon Miner, a graduate student and program coordinator in the College of Engineering.
As a residence hall director, Gansemer-Topf supervised a building with 500 women and eight female staff members as she worked to complete her master’s degree in higher education.
“Ann’s impact on young women was instrumental as a team member in the Department of Residence,” said Sally Deters, a residence life coordinator. “She was a role model to women as she herself was, and continues to be, a strong leader who demonstrates positive work-life balance.”
Hotlines coordinator who impacts thousands
A second human sciences woman featured in this year’s calendar, Van Ginkel, helps thousands of Iowans as a hotlines coordinator and human sciences specialist in family finance. She coordinates the Iowa Concern hotline, which provides Iowans with answers to their questions.
“Her tireless leadership of the Iowa Concern hotline has impacted tens of thousands of Iowans for more than 25 years across the state and across all walks of life,” said John Lawrence, an associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach.
Originally named “Rural Concern,” the hotline provided a toll-free number for the agricultural community during the farm crisis of the 1980s. Today, the hotline serves as a resource to alleviate Iowans’ stress from finances, legal matters, disasters, and other concerns.
Along with her role at Iowa Concern, Van Ginkel and her team help people with gambling addictions through 1-800-BETS OFF, teens with various health questions and anxieties through Teen Line, and women and children with health care questions and needs through Iowa Healthy Families.
“Through her 40 years of outreach, and particularly her leadership of ISU Extension’s hotline system, it seems to me entirely possible that more Iowans may have been positively impacted by Margaret Van Ginkel than by any other representative of Iowa State University,” said Barbara Wollan, a human sciences specialist in family finance.
A devoted student leader
Williams’ ardent advocacy for the empowerment of women, students of color, and new students earned her a spot in this year’s calendar as well as the College of Human Sciences’ list of 2016 Student Sensations.
As president of the Womyn of Colour student organization, she worked to change the focus of the organization from a casual, social group to a place of support after seeing the need for more awareness and encouragement for women of color at Iowa State.
“Britney did not hesitate to commit additional time, because she believed there needed to be a space on campus for women of color to have discussions and support,” said Som Mongtin, assistant director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. “That is one of the many traits that makes Britney exceptional.”
Williams also served as a Cyclone Aide — helping new students during orientation and Destination Iowa State. She’s a peer mentor with Connect Four learning community, which aims to help first-year students of color meet new people and learn about campus resources.
“Britney is not merely a member of these organizations, she is a leader and plays a key role in moving efforts forward in each of them,” said Carmen Flagge, the College of Human Sciences’ diversity coordinator and multicultural liaison officer. “Britney is the epitome of a woman of impact.”
Nine other Iowa State students, faculty, and staff are featured in this year’s Women Impacting ISU calendar. They include: Elizabeth Amado, Haley Strass, Monic Behnken, Lisa Larson, Jane Rongerude, Patricia Augustin, Anne Byrne, Laura Doering, and Roberta Johnson.