Heidi Neal Named Commissioner of the Year for Commission on Status of Women

May 31, 2022

By Holly Hinson

headshot of Heidi NeilHeidi Neal, Director of Student Success and Strategic Initiatives, has been named Commissioner of the Year for the Commission on Status of Women, (COSW) an advisory board to the President regarding equality for femmes and femme-identifying employees at University of Louisville.

Neal was appointed five years ago to sit on COSW. “The commission and the work on the commission are important because so often females are fighting on a regular basis to grow in leadership roles, find value in higher education, and manage that work-life balance,” said Neal. “To be able to be a voice and work in collaboration with the President and Provost to make change is really significant.”

In her role, Neal has had the opportunity to start a mentoring program collaborating with the Employee Success Center that has provided over 100 employees a year with mentors to help with professional and personal growth. She led the framework to start Femme Forward, a lunch and learn series where Femme-identifying employees share their leadership journey through higher education.

“Heidi has always been a valuable contributing member,” said Heather Fox, Chair of COSW.  “In FY22, Heidi proposed and then developed a comprehensive on-boarding process for our incoming commissioners,” said Fox. “As a person who has served on COSW for nine years, as a volunteer, then commissioner, and now chair of COSW I can attest to the value that the on-boarding process adds.”

In addition, part of Neal’s role has been as a policy advocate for femmes with Human Resources.

“We worked closely with HR creating a supportive hybrid remote work policy to ensure female- identifying individuals weren’t left behind and asked to be mom, career woman and teacher,” said Neal.”

The COSW was also a voice with HR to get women a six-week maternity leave immediately upon employment instead of having to wait 12 months. “This meant that for pregnant women in offices looking to hire the best candidate, they wouldn’t have to worry about having that support,” said Neal. That’s why this work is so important.”

As for winning the Commissioner of the Year award, Neal said she was in disbelief when she first found out. “When you think that the commission is 50 individuals across Belknap and HSC, and there are 6500 employees at UofL, of which 60% are females, and of those you’re selected into this small group to represent women, and then of that small group, they voted you as Commissioner of the Year, it’s beyond humbling, and such an honor.”