Class of 2024 Gender Equity representatives Ali Gendron, Alison Neveu, Katie Dana, Sydney Block and Alankritha Bhushan recently shared Q&As about what it’s like to serve in their elected roles. Gender Equity reps are elected positions designed to keep gender issues at the forefront of discussion and foster community within each section and across the First Year class.

Today, we are thrilled to highlight Section A’s Alison Neveu, Section B’s Sydney Block and Section C’s Ali Gendron. Check back tomorrow for two more great Q&A features with Section D’s Alankritha Bhushan and Section E’s Katie Dana.

Alison Neveu, Section A

Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Pre-Darden background: Transfer Pricing at PwC in Boston

Post-Darden industry plans: Consulting

Alison Neveu, Section A Gender Equity Rep

Q: What section are you in? What section traditions are your favorite?

A: I’m in Section A – which is undoubtedly the best one. We have awesome professors and our mascot is the Lion. A section tradition I love is when it’s someone’s birthday, their desk gets decorated and they get to wear a birthday hat/crown all day. We also sing to them immediately following our section cheer in the morning. Sometimes professors are less likely to “cold call” them; but sometimes it has the opposite effect.

Q: What attracted you to serving as a gender equity rep and can you describe the scope of your role?

A: I wanted to serve as a Gender Equity Rep because I believe in the power of elevating women’s voices, particularly in male-dominated spaces. Classrooms and companies are better places when a diverse range of perspectives are represented, and women bring a unique perspective that is often under-represented.

I was raised by a mother who was one of the only women in her division at a major Wall Street bank in the 1980’s. She taught me that I should never feel held back by my gender; in fact, as a young girl I felt empowered when I could beat the boys’ scores on math tests, or be the star of touch football at recess. That being said, women face a unique set of challenges, both in the workplace and in society, and a considerable amount of work needs to be done to achieve gender equality.

In my role as Gender Equity Rep, I aim to ensure that each woman feels that they feel comfortable contributing to classroom discussion, and that they feel a sense of belonging at Darden. I also organize social gatherings among the women in our section to build community outside of typical social settings. Given various intersectionalities, I work closely with the DEI Rep and International Rep to ensure we’re all informed about various identity issues within our section.

Q: Favorite Darden experience and/or class so far?

A: So far my favorite Darden experience was Darden Cup Lawn Games, which was on a Thursday afternoon after the first week of classes. It was the first chance to compete amongst the sections, and it truly made me feel like a kid again to get so competitive about games like egg toss, wheelbarrow race and tug of war. I’m really excited to continue competing in Darden Cup all year long, and hopefully Section A comes out on top.

Sydney Block, Section B

Hometown: Bethesda, MD

Pre-Darden background: International development on USAID funded programs in the Middle East and Afghanistan

Sydney Block, Section B Gender Equity Rep

Post-Darden goals: My short-term goal is to become a generalist through consulting, which I can then apply to my long-term goal of aiding economic development in emerging markets.

Q: What section are you in? What section traditions are your favorite?

A: I am in Section B, also known as “Section Best” or the “birds.” My favorite section tradition is the weekly passing of our section mascot (a Big Bird stuffed animal). Every Thursday, one individual is recognized in front of the whole section for their impactful contributions, both inside and outside of the classroom. The individual is then responsible for protecting the mascot (from other sections) until they recognize another classmate the next week. It is always great to end the week by highlighting the extraordinary members of section B!

Q: What attracted you to serving as a gender equity rep and can you describe the scope of your role?

A: I attended a women’s college for undergrad, so coming to Darden, I was initially concerned about finding my voice in a very different classroom environment. In Q1, with the support of Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), my professors, and classmates, I survived my first cold call and eventually found my voice in the classroom. When I learned of the Gender Equity Rep role, I was immediately excited by the opportunity to support and amplify the incredible women in my section and at Darden as a whole. I am excited to have a platform to plan events and activities that bring my section’s women together. This ranges from group chat shout outs for making great points in class to small gatherings and workshops, empowering us to grow academically, professionally, and socially.

Q: Favorite Darden experience and/or class so far?

A: In Q1, one of my favorite classroom experiences was marketing with Professor Tami Kim. During each class, someone was challenged to pitch their marketing plan for the assigned case, ranging from Casper mattresses to Chase Sapphire. The individual was then responsible for responding to questions from the class on their marketing plan. Although initially intimidating, Section B is definitely ready to tackle future boardroom pitches because of it!

Ali Gendron, Section C

Hometown: Boston, MA

Pre-Darden background: I spent the last 5 years at global energy company headquartered in CT. I spent time working across corporate functions – Human Resources, Health & Safety and most recently, as the Chief of Staff to the Chief Human Resources & Corporate Administration officer.

Ali Gendron, Section C Gender Equity Rep

Post-Darden plans: In the short term, I plan to pursue a career in consulting – first as a generalist and then, ideally with a focus on talent and organizational effectiveness. In the longer term, I would love to be a Chief Human Resources Officer or Chief Administration Officer.

Q: What section are you in? What section traditions are your favorite?

A: Section C! I love how engaged and passionate our section is around Darden Cup – we haven’t won Darden Cup in recent history and the whole section has come together to offer their talents and support in each event. As of the day I’m responding to this Q&A, we are currently in the lead!

Q: What attracted you to serving as a gender equity rep and can you describe the scope of your role?

A: I have always cared deeply about supporting and amplifying the experiences, and voices, of women. During undergraduate, I was trained as domestic violence/rape crisis hotline operator and was part of Women in Business at Skidmore College. Post graduation, I was actively engaged in the women’s employee resource group at my company and have spent the last few years working as a mentor to women who have left, or are considering leaving, abusive relationships. When I got to Darden, I was honored my section was willing to give me the opportunity to continue this passion. As gender equity rep, I work with the women in my section, the Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) board and Section C Leadership to provide spaces for women to share their experiences and receive intersectional support so they can have the academic and career journey they want and deserve. I will also work with the men in my section to continue to bolster allyship and dig into what healthy masculinity looks like in and out of the workplace.

Q: Favorite Darden experience and/or class so far?

A: I have loved watching my section engage with each other in Leading Organizations with Professor Melissa Thomas Hunt (MTH). MTH has an amazing way of engaging a classroom of individuals from very different backgrounds on a variety of challenging topics that have impacted, or will impact, us in the workforce. I have been able to visibly see MTH help positively shape the way we think about leadership and empathy which I know will make us all better leaders.