ACE logo

The honor recognizes innovative programs that help elevate or support women or women’s issues in higher education.

The American Council on Education (ACE) announced March 13 that the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) UMBrella Group was the 2024 recipient of its State Network Leadership Award. The honor recognizes an extraordinary and innovative program sponsored by an ACE State Network or higher education institution that helps elevate or support women or women’s issues in higher education.

Founded in 2014, UMBrella (UMB Roundtable on Empowerment in Leadership and Leveraging Aspirations) helps women who work at UMB build community and provides resources that facilitate enhanced leadership skills, self-advocacy, and personal and professional success. Its programs have served nearly 6,000 women at UMB.

(Learn more about UMBrella)

The award will be presented at the Women’s Network Leadership Conference on March 20 in Washington, D.C. Jennifer Litchman, MA, senior vice president for external relations and founder and chair of UMBrella, will accept the award.

“I’m ecstatic that UMBrella has been recognized with the 2024 ACE State Network Leadership Award,” Litchman said. “When we founded UMBrella in 2014, our goal was to provide value to the University and build a community of support for women within the institution. Ten years later, it’s very gratifying and humbling to be recognized nationally for our work in empowering women to succeed.”

One of UMBrella’s signature initiatives is an eight-month group coaching program that engages women at all levels of the institution with supportive coaches, learning activities, self-assessment tools, and networking. Participants meet monthly in groups led by women in leadership roles at UMB to discuss career-related topics such as self-confidence and communication. More than 400 women have participated in the program, and nearly half of alumni have earned a promotion, reevaluation, title change, or new appointment.

UMBrella also offers scholarships that support women’s participation in conferences and trainings; an annual Women’s History Month Symposium that features keynote speakers, skill-building workshops, and networking opportunities; a speaker series focused on contemporary women’s issues; and an awards program that honors individuals at the University who champion women’s success.

“UMBrella provides women with indispensable resources that help them unlock their potential,” said Kim Lee, ACE’s director of community strategy and engagement. “This program’s comprehensive approach has made it easier than ever for women to envision a future in higher education leadership.”

ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, ACE has a diverse membership of more than 1,600 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad.  

Students, faculty, and staff, let your voice be heard!
Submit Your Story.