During Women’s History Month, the Gazette recognizes just a few of the University’s female faculty and staff who have made a difference on campus and beyond through leadership, research, teaching, public service and mentoring other women.
Many are trailblazers in male-dominated fields, some achieving renown for their accomplishments and others getting the job done outside the spotlight. All play vital roles in Carolina’s history, as well as in achieving the University’s mission of teaching, learning and research.
Produced by University Communications photographer Jon Gardiner and writer Scott Jared
Chair of the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering
Don’t tell Nancy Allbritton what she can’t do.
“If you tell me I can’t do something, by golly, I’m going to do it,” Allbritton said.
Some people told her that she would not make it in traditionally male fields. But she persisted and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics, doctor of medicine degree, and a doctorate in medical physics/medical engineering.
Women breaking into those areas need, Allbritton said, “a certain personality where you have blinders on and you’re focused and you’re just going to do it no matter what.”
The Kenan Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry, Allbritton has joint appointments in the medical and pharmacy schools. Since starting her academic career, she’s co-founded four startup companies, holds 20 patents (and has an additional 23 pending) and has generated more than $1 million in revenue for Carolina.
Allbritton’s research uses techniques from chemistry, physics, engineering and materials science to develop new technologies for biomedical applications. She has three major focus areas: analytical techniques for single-cell biochemical assays, microfabricated platforms for sorting and cloning cells, and micro-engineered “organ-on-a-chip” platforms that simulate how an organ works.
When Allbritton’s newly hired scientists participate in regular mentoring with sessions on topics like notebook keeping and statistics. Allbritton works with them later to help with deep thinking and experiment design.
“I go all out for all students and make sure we have people to help them on all the levels of their research, from the nitty gritty, like turning on an instrument, to more of the day-to-day trouble-shooting,” Allbritton said.
The lab is a testament to the power of role models like Allbritton to help create a steady influx of women to STEM fields. “I think as you get more women, the influx begins to grow faster,” she said. “Because then you can see that there’s a place for everybody and you fit in and you belong. It begins to escalate.”
Executive assistant to vice chancellor for finance and operations
Outgoing + Positive = Trevaughn Eubanks.
Growing up, Trevaughn Eubanks was a bookworm. Her transformation to an outgoing, positive personality began in the early 1980s when she attended Carolina’s Summer Bridge and Project Uplift programs, gaining a taste of college life as a high school senior.
Once an undergraduate here, Eubanks met Joyce Clayton, former assistant dean in Carolina’s General College. “In my eyes, Dean Clayton was an influential African-American woman who inspired and encouraged me,” Eubanks said. “I admired her and still do to this day.”
Clayton’s advice covered academics and life, but most important was her positivity. “I needed that positive influence,” Eubanks said.
Shortly after graduating in 1987, Eubanks began a series of jobs at the University, including administrative manager for the Stone Center when it became a free-standing black culture and history center. She helped plan the new building, which opened in 2004.
In 2008, Eubanks became executive assistant to the first of five vice chancellors. “I’ve learned a lot from each one,” she said. “They all said they love my energy and appreciate my institutional memory, and they’ve each given me greater responsibility. I value their confidence in me.”
She’s the central point of contact for the office, with job duties that include supervising five employees, managing the office’s day-to-day workflow and plenty of trouble-shooting. Eubanks welcomes challenges such as planning a recent workspace renovation. “I credit [former vice chancellor for finance and administration] Karol Gray, who said, ‘I want you to do more,’” she said.
By doing more, Eubanks became a mover and a shaker in advancing Carolina’s mission.
“I feel like I’m an ambassador for the University,” she said. “I feel it’s my duty to represent the University in the best light no matter where I go.”
Executive assistant in the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid
For many visitors to campus over the past 32 years, Carolina’s front door opened to Susan Sabiston.
Her role as the first person to greet visitors began in the Office of the Chancellor, where she handled reception duties as an office assistant from 1993 to 2000. The self-professed “people person” enjoyed the office camaraderie and visitors, from the late Robin Williams and former UNC President Bill Friday, to the many faculty, staff and students she helped.
She then joined Scholarships and Student Aid as an executive assistant just as the office was launching the Carolina Covenant, the University’s groundbreaking program created in 2004 that enables low-income students to graduate debt-free.
A single mother, Sabiston knows what financial aid can mean to a family. “Any type of funding that a parent or student can receive is a benefit,” she said. Sabiston went through the financial aid process for her daughter, a 2018 East Carolina University graduate. Her daughter received a UNC Family Scholarship, awarded to Carolina employee dependents who attend a UNC System school.
Sabiston has also seen huge improvements in financial aid as processes involving long lines and lots of paper moved online. But her human touch and ability to connect with visitors remain an entry point to Carolina’s commitment to an accessible education. Sometimes, people from a student’s hometown visit to advocate for the student to receive aid. They feel comfortable and often treat their time with Sabiston as a rehearsal for talking with an administrator.
“It’s always nice to see somebody other than a parent, somebody in the community who feels strongly enough for a student to call or come and ask if there’s any way that we could help them,” Sabiston said.
Senior associate director for campus recreation
Thousands of Carolina students, staff and faculty owe their improved health to Lauren Mangili, who was the only female and only full-time professional on a five-person staff when she became Carolina’s associate director of campus recreation in 1995.
Since then, Mangili has taught just about every kind of fitness class from high-energy aerobics to pilates, ensured that the Student Recreation Center and Rams Head Center are staffed and maintained, overseen business operations and developed campus partnerships.
“Our staff is really balanced now with men and women, particularly in our sport clubs and intramurals,” Mangili said. “It’s more holistic with different types of training, and awesome students come through here.”
Over the years, Mangili has hired about 3,000 students, many of them women who go on to graduate school, research or opening their own businesses.
“I’m excited to see how they develop and where their career takes them,” she said. “They’ve definitely got a lot of experience, not just with different training modalities and what’s most effective, but also how to motivate people and their communication style.”
As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, she realized that she did not want to work in a hospital or in health care, where many of her female classmates were headed. “I was more interested in keeping people healthy so they would not have to take advantage of those services, so I went back to school for my master’s in health promotion and exercise science,” she said.
Mangili had mentors, mostly male coaches. She has taken the best from them and developed her own brand of inspiration for young women she encounters as student employees or in the fitness industry. She’s also tried out variations with her three sons and husband.
“I love the energy at Carolina, and the pride that people take in what we do keeps me motivated and inspired,” Mangili said.
Professor of music and director of choral activities
Growing up in New England with a strong mother who wanted her children to succeed, Susan Klebanow said, taught her not to expect problems with being a woman.
And in her 33-year career of teaching and performing in Carolina’s music department, Klebanow said that she never felt out of place. “I was never the only woman anywhere,” she said.
While at Carolina, she met and married violinist and fellow music faculty member Richard Luby, who died in 2013. In 1990, shortly after giving birth to their son, Nicholas, she asked department chair Ann Woodward about changing an evening teaching assignment to daytime.
“She couldn’t have been more accommodating,” Klebanow said. “I have felt supported here, and over the years the music department has hired many more women faculty. It’s healthy and important to have more women on committees expressing opinions about things. It changes the dialogue in a positive direction.”
As conductor of the two student groups, the Carolina Choir and the Chamber Singers, Klebanow played a significant role in some of the University’s most ambitious musical performances. One highlight was conducting the Carolina Choir in Stravinsky’s “Les Noces,” a work described as radical and original, which she said let her know that her choirs at Carolina could take on anything.
“I treat men and the women the same in all ways vocally and musically,” she said. “But I also teach conducting and often I have a class of only women. Then we focus on women in leadership. They get very good very fast, and my guess is that the confidence they gain and the skills they learn in conducting class about leading will apply to many aspects of their lives as they mature.”
Assistant track and field coach
“There’s enough room in the sky for all the stars,” assistant track and field coach Nicole Hudson tells her athletes. “Don’t dim your light. Just shine.”
Hudson, or “Coach Huddy” to her athletes, has lived those words and has the credentials to back them.
In 1988, she entered Carolina on an academic scholarship to study mathematics education. As a student-athlete in the grueling heptathlon, she set a school record that stood for 25 years, helped start an Atlantic Coast Conference track and field dynasty and was just shy of making the U.S. Olympic team. As a successful high school and college coach, she’s prepared male and female champions, including 2018 NCAA indoor champion Nicole Green. She taught high school courses ranging from algebra to AP calculus and earned a master’s degree.
As part of the first wave of female athletes to benefit from Title IX, “I was blessed to part of a generation of women’s programs that made their imprint not just at the conference level but nationally and in the world,” she said. “Professors and coaches here always demanded my best and never settled for anything less, and that’s what I took with me.”
College also opened her eyes to female leaders, particularly faculty members in Carolina’s School of Education and Afro-American Studies director Sonja Stone, who died in 1991. “I watched her walk through campus,” Hudson said. “I remember thinking when I got back here that I wanted to walk through campus with my head held high and have young women be inspired by me.”
Hudson is doing her best to be that role model, motivating students, with an emphasis on women. “I tell them to embrace being an alpha female, that you’re going to fill up a room and inspire people,” she said. “Don’t make yourself small. Don’t be afraid to outshine.”
Solid waste manager, Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
Since taking the job as the solid waste manager for Facilities Services in 1998, BJ Tipton has, with her team, transformed the University’s recycling process from a program that used salvaged tomato sauce barrels as recycling containers to an efficient, data-driven and award-winning program that recycles and composts 9.5 million pounds of waste a year.
Early on, she listened to workers and contractors who knew how Carolina’s recycling worked. She used that information to build a database that tracked all campus recycling locations, indoor and outdoor, and their pickup schedules. “I’m a systems person, so I like to build systems that can sustain themselves,” Tipton said.
Just as recycling practices have changed with the times, so has the treatment of women in the workplace. At a previous job at another university, she was not taken seriously by campus law enforcement when she reported that a former male employee was stalking her.
“Like many women, I have experienced harassment and sexist language throughout my career,” Tipton said. “While conditions here are still not perfect, I am happy to say that I have seen a mature awareness about harassment at Carolina.”
One of only 10 women among 268 Building Services employees, and the only female shop supervisor of 26, Tipton knows what it’s like to work in a department dominated by men. She and her supervisor, Todd Going, the interim director of Building Services, frequently talk about making the department more welcoming, such as using more inclusive language in meetings.
“It’s great that we’re able to discuss things like what changes in the work environment might bring more women, more people of color and more young people to the building and construction trades,” Tipton said.