Dear Friends,

I have good news to tell you, and—while I’d be happy to share it any day—it feels especially fitting to talk about in this season of fresh starts.

In a matter of days, we’ll begin work building our new home for women’s leadership in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It’s been quite a march to get here, involving tons of time and thinking and dialogue and grit. But plans have been drawn, meetings held, approvals finally granted, and contracts signed. We’re down to the final decisions before equipment moves into place and the construction fences go up. Then we’ll be on our way to opening a finished center in the fall of 2025.

Last week, I had a chance to walk the site of the Women’s Leadership Center with Susan Weiler, our celebrated landscape architect and author of Green Roof Systems, as well as Jeanne Gang, our amazing designer who’s been called “one of the leading architects of her generation,” a MacArthur Fellow celebrated for her award-winning work creating the Aqua skyscraper and St. Regis Tower in downtown Chicago and the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation in New York. In mid-March, nature was still mostly asleep but beginning to stir; birds chirped overhead as they plotted their own construction projects of nest-building. The waters of Geneva Lake glinted blue and silver and turquoise in the morning sun. The three of us reminisced about the history of this lovely place and the future we hope to create there—an inspiring space where women leaders in key fields will come together to imagine global solutions to complex generate possibilities...and to make the world a better place.

Sometimes dreams emerge full-blown. Other dreams take time to bloom, and this is one. It’s been three years since I stood on the hill where our center will rise and first imagined a home for women’s leadership there. Yet that dream emerged from a lifetime of personally wanting and working to help women succeed everywhere. And that dream was nurtured by the dreams others have held for me my whole life. I’ve been blessed beyond all measure to have loving family, colleagues, mentors, and friends every step of the way. I think of you as one of those bright lights of encouragement. Thank you deeply for being on this journey with me.

The past is incredibly rich and full of lessons; the future is bursting with potential. And right now, it all meets on magnificent, forested land overlooking a sparkling glacial lake in Williams Bay, WI.

Here’s to new incredible possibilities...and to fresh chapters just waiting to be written.

As always, my heartfelt gratitude for your support.

Ann Drake
Founder, Women's Leadership Center at Williams Bay