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Women’s Leadership Council Brunch and Learn

March 23, 2024
10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Alumni Center
73 Upper College Road
Kingston, Rhode Island



Join the Women’s Leadership Council for our spring Brunch and Learn. Enjoy a light breakfast and a series of discussions and presentations focused on empowering you to take charge of your personal, professional, and financial success led by experienced alumnae. This is a great opportunity to meet alumnae from a variety of professions, expand your network, and prepare for life after college.

Topics and speaker information to be announced. 

Register by: Saturday, March 16, 2024

Cost: Complimentary; includes breakfast

Learn more about the Women’s Leadership Scholarship funds.

Featured Speakers:

Jayashri Sarkar, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’08

Dr. Jayashri Sarkar is a visionary leader/entrepreneur dedicated to advancing women’s economic empowerment across the world. As the CEO of ImagiNexGen Institute of Excellence and ImagiNexGen Foundation, she champions initiatives that create pathways for women to thrive in the workforce, break barriers, and achieve financial independence.

She is a University of Rhode Island alumni. She graduated with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and has successfully developed 2 patents. She has overcome many challenges in her journey of successfully growing a STEM career and believes that in addition to growing her resilience and confidence, it also enabled her to become effective at building and growing a strong network.

Under Dr. Sarkar’s visionary leadership, ImagiNexGen has become a catalyst for change, pioneering innovative programs and initiatives that address the unique challenges women encounter in the workplace. From mentorship and skills training to advocacy work, she is committed to equipping women with the tools and resources they need to thrive professionally.

She is actively involved in community outreach programs and grassroots initiatives, working closely with local organizations to uplift and support women from diverse backgrounds. Her dedication to making a difference has earned her recognition as a thought leader and influencer and earned her the honor of being chosen as the finalist for the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Businesswoman of the Year 2023.

Through strategic partnerships with governments, corporations, and non-profits, her organization implements innovative programs focused on education, entrepreneurship, and access to capital. Dr. Sarkar’s unwavering dedication has led to tangible results—empowering women to successfully start businesses, secure higher-paying jobs, and become leaders in their communities. Driven by her vision of a world where every woman has the opportunity to fulfill her potential, Dr. Sarkar continues to inspire and lead the charge towards a more equitable future for all.



Michele L. Maker ’93

Michele L. Maker is the director of All That Matters Yoga + Wellness, a non-profit 501(c)(3) located in Wakefield, Rhode Island. As a native Rhode Islander, Michele holds a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher certified in restorative yoga, transcendental meditation, and Reiki. Michele credits yoga and mindfulness practices as her anchor during the most pivotal times personally and professionally and is committed to cultivating ATMY+W as a sacred place for salve and reflection. She is a seeker and explorer by nature and enjoys finding innovative ways to share yoga and revolutionary healing through community, connection, and joyful experiences.

As a yoga teacher, Michele fuses vivid imagery, creativity, expansive breath practice, and a whimsical playful flow, while guiding her students on a journey of joy, presence, and empowerment. She leads a dynamic holistic community offering over 65 weekly yoga classes, meditation, and healing arts services.

The mission of ATMY+W is to educate, inspire, and support the community to continually grow toward optimal health and well-being. Over 60 passionate teachers and healing arts providers are committed to making the world a healthier place—one person, and one community at a time.

ATMY+W also offers community outreach programs, including community yoga, Yoga 4 Cancer program, accessible chair yoga, meditation classes, chronic illness support group, and “Sunday Sangha Sessions”.

In addition, ATMY+W established a scholarship fund to make its programs more accessible and equitable to all, and a Community Matters initiative to support other local organizations dedicated to helping underserved communities. Throughout her journey, Michele leans into her 30 years of diverse experience in the arts and entertainment industries including leading the marketing division for a radio and media group in Providence, and overseeing a waterfront venue in downtown Newport, Rhode Island where she produced events for a multitude of entertainment purposes.

Over the past ten years, Michele has embarked on entrepreneurship, creating an event production company, and expanding her portfolio to include ownership of a contemporary art gallery in Newport—representing over 30 artists from all over the world.


Jillian Balzano

Jillian Balzano is a passionate advocate for work that empowers organizations and people to have a positive and lasting impact on the world around them. She’s committed to leaving things better than they were when she found them.

Jill serves as the community relations officer at The Washington Trust Company, the nation’s oldest community bank. In her role, she serves as the liaison between the bank, communities, and the people that they serve throughout their footprint in RI, CT and MA.

She manages corporate partnerships with nonprofit organizations, investments in communities via donations and sponsorships, employee engagement, volunteerism, and other impact-driven initiatives that bring the banks core value of community to life. She’s a creative and passionate storyteller, advocate for people, and believer in mission-driven work.

Outside of the office, she’s an active volunteer at organizations that help both animals and humans, thoroughly enjoys eating her way through Providence, and will be happy to share her thoughts on the latest great craft beer coming out of one of RI’s breweries. Please note: if you challenge her to Harry Potter trivia, you will lose.


 Chelsea Elsdoerfer

Chelsea Elsdoerfer currently holds the title of construction loan specialist for The Washington Trust Company and has over 10 years of retail banking and lending experience. She is the vice president for the Rhode Island Builders Association’s Professional Women in Building, a member of United Ways Emerging Leaders, and a member of one of her employer’s young leader’s employee resource group ASCEND.


Chelsea actively participates with young professionals and emerging leaders all around her to continue her own growth and development as well as help others. She is also currently working to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration through Southern New Hampshire University and will be graduating this May. Outside of professional goals Chelsea is a proud wife and mother to her toddler son and two dogs, enjoys the outdoors, playing tennis, and spending quality time with friends and family.

URI Foundation & Alumni Engagement welcomes individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you need accommodations or have questions about access to the event, please call 401.874.2242 at least five business days in advance. For TTY assistance, please call the R.I. Relay Service at 711.