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REACH Women's Network

Salem College Finds a Remarkable Community Partner with REACH Women’s Network

Several years ago, a group of forward-thinking local women founded the REACH Women’s Network, a program that seeks to advance economic development and promote gender equity by elevating the collective voice and influence of women in the workplace. Salem College has enjoyed a long relationship with REACH, which took Salem’s former Women’s Conference under its umbrella in 2020.

Salem College is an Alliance Partner with REACH, including a new mentoring program co-created by Salem and REACH. The first cohort of Salem students participated in the REACH mentoring program during fall 2023.

Approximately 20 REACH mentors, representing a variety of professions, partnered with 17 Salem College students as part of the first cohort. Out of the 17 Salem students, 14 were Salem Scholars, a four-year scholarship and leadership program for incoming students who are interested in health and have a demonstrated record of academic excellence and leadership. The remaining three students are also recipients of several of Salem’s leading scholarships.

REACH’s co-presidents: Iris Cole and Julia Townsend, are working with a team of individuals from Salem College on this program, including Lucy Rose Center for Leadership & Career Innovation Executive Director Collier Lumpkin, Salem Assistant Professor of Leadership and Leadership Program Director Charlotte Vail, Ph.D. and Salem Assistant Professor of Health Science and Coordinator of Salem Scholars Katie Fanning, DVM.

“REACH Women’s Network is privileged to be a part of this unique new mentoring and leadership program in collaboration with Salem College,” REACH Women’s Network Founder and Co-President Julia Townsend said. “Our goal is to elevate skills like networking and relationship building and to help support clarity and confidence as students begin envisioning their careers.

“Mentors serve as sounding boards, supporters and connectors helping students discover and nurture their career aspirations,” she added. “In return, mentors receive the gift of being inspired by the next generation of leaders.”

Salem’s student mentees took part in three REACH events during fall 2023:

  • In September, an event led by Wake Forest University’s Assistant Vice President of Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development Allison McWilliams explored what the mentor/mentee relationship is and established goals for the fall.
  • In October, a meeting assessed strengths using the Via Strengths Assessment program to help determine and apply students’ aptitude for success when applying for jobs.
  • A final event in November dedicated time to “speed networking” at 500 West Fifth Street in downtown Winston-Salem where students learned critical networking skills.

Salem Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Katherine Knapp Watts is a strong proponent of the program. “Much like Salem College, REACH is an organization that has a mission to recognize, encourage, advance, and connect women. That’s music to our ears at Salem,” Watts said. “Salem was very excited about the alliance with REACH for the fall 2023 mentor/mentee program, and I envision—and hope–that the initiative will continue for many years to come.”

One of the 20 local leaders who served as a mentor to Salem College students was Reynolda House Executive Director and Wake Forest University Associate Provost for Reynolda House and Reynolda Gardens Allison Perkins. Like others within the REACH initiative, she believes the program is making a huge impact on Salem College sophomores.

To find out more about REACH, visit

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Salem College students at graduation

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