Christie Vilsack and Waunita Hobbie to be honored at the Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium Dinner

Written by Theresa Rose on March 23, 2015

Iowa Wesleyan will honor two women with the inaugural Belle Babb Mansfield Award during the second annual Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium dinner on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m.
The newly established award will recognize both Vilsack and Hobbie for their community contributions and for embodying the spirit of Belle Babb Mansfield. Mansfield, an 1866 graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University, is one of Iowa Wesleyan’s most notable alumna. In 1869 she became the first women admitted to practice law in the United States. In addition to this major contribution to society, Belle was a journalist, an educator, a public speaker and community activist. She was also committed to advancing women’s rights through the Women Suffrage movement and other causes.
“Both Christie Vilsack and Waunita Hobbie are most deserving of our inaugural Mansfield award. Both are women of strong social conscience whose leadership has enhanced the community’s cultural, educational and social development,” said Meg Richtman, vice president for development and alumni relations. “These are women who have “made the world a better place” and whose actions challenge us to strive for greatness.”
Vilsack joined the U.S. Agency for International Development as the Senior Advisor for International Education in March 2013. Christie supports USAID’s Education Strategy goal to improve children’s reading skills, strengthen workforce development, and provide equitable access to education in crisis and conflict settings. Christie has committed her life to education and public service. For 25 years, she taught secondary and college English and journalism. Her experience inside the classroom led to a focus on education as Iowa’s First Lady, as a candidate for Congress and now as the spokesperson for USAID Education. In her current role as USAID, Christie works with education sector partners and educational leaders worldwide to build understanding of a support for international education solutions. She travels the world visiting and learning about USAID programs so she can tell the story of USAID Education to anyone she meets from Main Street to the halls of Congress. Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Christie is a graduate of Kirkland College in Clinton, New York. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from The University of Iowa. She and husband Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have two married sons and four grandchildren. They have enjoyed a lifetime of public service together.
Hobbie is a Life Trustee at Wesleyan. She broke barriers for women in Henry County in 1959 when she became the first female licensed insurance agent and opened an insurance agency with Charlie Sowers as an equal partner. Prior to that time, insurance agents did not take exams to be issued a license. She wrote and passed seven different examinations to become a licensed.
Hobbie also served her community as a member of the Mount Pleasant Library Board and the Henry County Health Center Board of Trustees. Hobbie was the first woman president of the Mount Pleasant Library Board.
Tickets for the dinner are still available, but on a limited basis, and can be purchased online at or by calling 319-385-6212.
A complete schedule of the day’s events are listed below:
11:00 a.m.
Panel Discussion: “Women Entrepreneurs: Daring to Be Bold by Stepping Out on Their Own”
Adam Trieschmann Hall of Science Auditorium

4:00 p.m.

“Mansfield Mingle”

Faculty, staff, students, and community members are invited to mingle with the panelists and moderator of the morning event Refreshments will be provided.

P.E.O. Memory Rooms, Old Main

5:30 p.m.
“An Evening with Belle”
A dinner in support of the Mansfield Endowment
Social Hall, John Wesley Holland Student Union
Tickets available through the extended deadline of Wednesday, March 25 at

6:30 p.m.
Service in Action
“Dress for Success Drive”
Providing Clothing for Success in the Business World
Donations of business professional clothing will be accepted
Chapel Lobby

7:00 p.m.
The Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium
Keynote Address: Diane Crookham-Johnson,
Attorney-at-Law and Owner, Musco Corporation
Chapel Auditorium

All events are open to the public. More information can be found at