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Assistant Vice Chancellor Honored by YMCA
for Promoting Opportunities for Young Women

By Ioana Patringenaru | June 23, 2006

Assistant Vice Chancellor
Ann Briggs Addo

She mentors students, staff members and faculty. She volunteers for several charitable organizations. She’s the mother of two teenage daughters and an assistant vice chancellor at UCSD.

On June 16, Ann Briggs Addo was under the spotlight during the YWCA’s Tribute to Women & Industry event at the San Diego Convention Center. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women chose Briggs Addo as this year’s honoree for UCSD. 

“She’s really made an important contribution to UCSD,” said Sally Brainerd, the committee’s staff co-chair.

Briggs Addo is passionate about opportunities for young girls and young women, Brainerd said. At UCSD, she has mentored many over the last 12 years. She also is a member of the campus’ Women’s Leadership Alliance. Off campus, she volunteers with several nonprofits, including Women’s Empowerment International, an organization that provides small, low-interest business loans for some of the world’s poorest women. Briggs Addo, who is black, also is a strong advocate for minorities. She is a founding member of the UJIMA Network, an alliance of black faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members.

Briggs Addo said it meant a lot to be recognized, though she didn’t expect it. She said she’s most proud of her work with Women’s Empowerment International. The organization loans tiny amounts -- $10, $20 -- to poor women. They in turn use the money for small business ventures that help provide for their family, such as planting tomatoes or making things they can sell.

“It’s so simple, yet so powerful,” Briggs Addo said.

Asked what motivates her, she talked about her two daughters, Catherine, 19, and Anne Marie, 15, and the world that awaits them. Some women have managed to get to high places. But as a whole, women still earn less, dollar for dollar, than men, Briggs Addo said.

Also, academia is a male-dominated environment, with precious few women in leadership roles, she pointed out.  It also sometimes seems that women and people of color have to work harder to get recognized, she said. UCSD is lucky because two women hold the two top academic jobs in the institution, Briggs Addo said. The Women’s Leadership Alliance aims to pull up more women into top jobs. But how can it be done? Enlisting the help of male colleagues is key, Briggs Addo said.

“I think we need to recognize that we can’t do it on our own,” she said.

In that respect, Briggs Addo said she has been lucky. Her boss, Vice Chancellor John Woods, is a great mentor and a great friend, she said.

“I usually tend to call a spade a spade,” Briggs Addo said. “I’ve been very fortunate that he allowed me to do that.”

To enlist support within their organization, women also have to make sacrifices, she added. They have to deliver at work, and sometimes, that means someone else has to pick up the children. In fact, Briggs Addo said she feels she has sacrificed a lot. For a while, she was a full-time MBA student and a full-time employee. She was gone a lot and missed many of her daughters’ school plays, she said. Luckily, her husband, Theo Addo, who teaches at San Diego State University, has a more flexible schedule.

“He slid right in and picked up the pieces,” Briggs Addo said.

He even learned to braid their daughters’ hair.

“I have the good Lord on my side,” Briggs Addo said. “I also have a good man on my side.”

By the way, women shouldn’t try to be like men, she said. And they need to take themselves less seriously.

“We need to laugh a lot,” Briggs Addo said. “It’s important.”

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