Wanda Brice leads Women’s Museum with a passion.
Ask Wanda Brice if she ever envisioned becoming Executive Director of The Women’s Museum and she just might have you pinch her. “I honestly can’t believe it. This past February I took early retirement from my IT placement/consulting firm and was planning to go back to law school,” she explains. Then a friend got me interested in The Women’s Museum. They were looking for an Executive Director who had a strong business background, deep Dallas roots and believed in helping women to better themselves. What started as a passing curiosity turned into an all-consuming passion!”
A Sherman, Texas native, Wanda moved to Dallas “as soon as she could,” and worked a few years in the corporate world until she founded Legal Documentation Systems, followed in 1993 by Computer Directions, Inc. Active in numerous community and civic organizations, she gravitated to those most committed to women’s issues such as public policy advocacy.
It was the museum’s ‘2010 Strategic Plan’ and the board of directors’ enthusiasm that caught Wanda off guard. “The plan and job description exactly fit my vision and “passion” criteria: a position that was fun, rewarding and all about empowering women and girls to be leaders.” Now Wanda is bringing the strategic goals that intrigued her into reality. “We officially call ourselves The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future. So let’s truly emphasize the “Institute” part. We do an excellent job of presenting the outstanding history and accomplishments of American women in The Museum. By utilizing the Institute, we can create a stronger generation of women with the “Courage to Lead” and girls with the “Courage to Be.”
Instituting positive changes.
The Institute will provide a central location for underserved women—such as sole breadwinners and underprivileged workers—to receive skills training for everything from plumbing to eldercare. State-of-the-art computer centers and a mentor assigned to each participant will be central to their success. “We want to give them the tools an guidance they need to succeed as a home-based business owner and gain greater earning capacity for their family,” states Wanda.
A second curriculum, “Courage to Be,” consists of after-school programming, including art enrichment programs, math and science training for girls. This will help boost grades and test scores, while lowering the dropout rate due to early pregnancies and other issues. It will also increase the number of women who go on to college. Most of all, it will empower girls to reach their aspirations.
Steering boldly ahead.
Though Wanda has only been aboard a short time, her respect for the wit and wisdom of women has taken The Women’s Museum in some innovative and very popular new directions. The recent sell-out “Conversations” series featured a trio of Southern humorists who obviously enjoy life: local favorites Molly Ivins, Marlyn Schwartz and Jill Conner Browne, author of the uproariously funny novel, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love. She is also in the midst of establishing a Women’s Art League of The Museum, bringing in various watercolorists, sculptors, glass artisans and others who will work voluntarily with the women and girls attending classes here. The intent is for the museum to become a beehive of activity for the neighborhood, as well as the city.
“We will be doing many things to celebrate Women’s Suffrage Month in August,” says Wanda. “And in 2006, The Women’s Museum will be the presenting location for a major collection of works by American women artists such as Mary Cassatt. We’ll also be adding more high tech, interactive components to most exhibits.”
Wanda Brice is having the time of her life at The Women’s Museum, at a time in life when she least expected it. “I love it here! My staff is wonderful and they have terrific ideas…it’s all about greater possibilities for women and girls.” And with her guidance, that community will soon include hundreds more women who will get a real chance to lead.