In the Beginning

The Women of Spirit® Award program was established in 1993 by former Carlow President, Grace Ann Geibel RSM, to recognize outstanding women, who, as leaders in the community, exemplify the Carlow University mission. The title was chosen to honor the first real “women of spirit”—the University’s founders, the Sisters of Mercy. Women of Spirit® have had a profound influence over Carlow University since its founding more than seven decades ago. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Pittsburgh from Carlow, Ireland, in 1843 with a spirited mission to serve the poor, the sick, and the uneducated. These determined women established the college in 1929 with 24 freshman, seven faculty, and makeshift classrooms in the Mercy Convent.

About the Women of Spirit® Institute

The Carlow Women of Spirit® Institute, created in 2005, exists to develop and promote innovative academic and community programs; to honor, educate and promote women leaders of all ages and from all walks of life; and to recognize academic potential with much-needed scholarship aid for the many Carlow students who would otherwise be unable to attend college. Additionally, the Women of Spirit® Institute provides career exploration workshops for high-school girls—featuring scholarships that support under-represented populations.

Women of Spirit® are recognized for their professional and personal leadership and their service to others. In turn, they share their expertise with the Carlow community by actively participating in the life of the University and in the development of its students. Many of them contribute their time and talent to the summer workshops for girls, teens and college-aged women. The institute is guided by Carlow University’s values of Mercy, Hospitality, Service, Discovery, and Sacredness of Creation.

The Women of Spirit® Award Program

The Women of Spirit® Award program has earned a distinguished place as a Pittsburgh treasure. Since its beginning in 1993, women leaders have been recognized for their professional and personal leadership and their service to others. In turn, they share their expertise with the Carlow community by actively participating in the life of the University and in the development of its students.

Through the Women of Spirit® Awards, Carlow University recognizes outstanding women who exemplify the Carlow mission in their personal and professional lives. The award has been presented at the national level to Marlo Thomas, award-winning actress and producer; Jill Ker Conway, best-selling author and historian; Judith E. Heumann, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the United States Department of Education; and Teresa Heinz, social and political activist and chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies. Jordan’s Queen Noor received the International Women of Spirit® award in June 2005. This renowned program also provides valuable scholarship assistance to Carlow students who demonstrate the spirit inherent in the award.