THE POWER OF COLLABORATION: Pace University’s MS in Publishing program and the Women’s National Book Association


Professor Jane Kinney-Denning. (Photo: Rachael Kelly)

For 10 years, Jane Kinney-Denning, the MS in Publishing program’s Executive Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach, has volunteered with the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA), a 100-year-old nonprofit founded on the belief that books have the power to promote social justice and facilitate change. Denning became the NYC Chapter President in 2012, and served for two terms before becoming the WNBA’s National President in 2016. Through these positions, she has been able to provide unique networking and mentoring opportunities for students in the publishing program.

“I am a true believer in the power of collaboration,” says Denning. “The relationship between Pace’s MS in Publishing program and the Women’s National Book Association opens doors. I am especially proud of our UN Youth Delegates, the WNBA’s annual lecture series, and all of the Publishing students who have volunteered and gone on to take key board positions with the WNBA.”

The WNBA has been a 503c non-governmental organization at the United Nations since author Pearl S. Buck secured the status for the organization in 1959. For the last five years, the WNBA has exclusively selected its UN youth delegates from the MS in Publishing program.

UN Youth Delegates

Alumna Caitlyn Morrow ’16, a Special Markets Coordinator at Macmillan, began her volunteer work as a UN Youth Delegate. She currently serves as the WNBA’s National Membership Chair. “Pace’s connection to the WNBA gave me the opportunity to represent women and literacy on a global scale,” said Morrow. “In my role as a UN Youth Delegate, I was able to interact with publishing professionals driven to see women succeed in the workplace.” 

Publishing alumna Dena Mekawi ’15 was a youth delegate at the United Nations for five years before becoming the organization’s Second Alternate. She used the experience to expand her work as the founder of STYLE & RESILIENCE, a media and lifestyle company that works to promote inclusivity within companies in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Between co-chairing the youth committee at the United Nations and co-organizing one of the first sustainable fashion shows at the organization. Dena is making a difference in the world.


Another powerful collaboration between the Pace’s publishing program and the WNBA is found in the annual WNBA lecture series, now in its sixth year. The series provides a unique forum for women’s voices to be heard on a number of pressing issues and is co-sponsored by the WNBA, Dyson College, and the departments of English and Women and Gender Studies.

“The lecture series has been a highlight of my work at Pace,” said Denning. “It has been so rewarding to gather great writers together to discuss the importance and impact of books on society.”

The first lecture in the series was entitled Women Writing Women’s lives and was an outgrowth of a publishing department biography seminar. Subsequent series continued to focus upon women in the literary space: women writing political fiction, women and the power of poetry, women writing about the environment, women and political fiction and, most recently, Women in the Literary Landscape. Notable participants included Deirdre Bair, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Jamia Wilson, Pace faculty members Melanie Dupuis, Eve Laramee, Sarah Blackwood, Ellease Ebele Oseye, and Distinguished Professor Emerita of English Jean Fagan Yellin.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspect of the Pace and WNBA partnership is seeing so many students step up to the plate and volunteer for the WNBA. “It’s still hard for women to get the titles they deserve in the publishing industry. Volunteering for the WNBA is an opportunity to take on leadership roles and develop resume-building skills” says Denning.

As alumna Hannah Bennett (‘13), an Acquisitions Editor at Start Publishing and the current President of WNBA-NYC said, “The WNBA is a welcoming community of like-minded women who offered me a chance to get involved in the book world – both a fun and supportive network, and a door into the industry. Six years later, as the President of the NYC chapter of the WNBA, I have had the opportunity to meet remarkable women, make solid networking connections, and give back to students the same advice and guidance I received in grad school. It has also been a boost to my career, as both an excellent addition to my resume and a constant source of learning and personal growth that I've taken with me to every new position. I'm incredibly grateful for the impact that the MS in Publishing program and the WNBA have had on my life and career.”

While Professor Denning’s term as National President will end in June, she is looking forward to maintaining a mentorship role in the organization. She plans to make sure the WNBA continues to provide unique opportunities for Pace MS in Publishing students.  “There is so much power in collaboration” says Denning “and what better way to assist them in launching and establishing their publishing careers than by being a part of a 100 year old organization that has contributed so greatly to the literary community.

Dr. Carla Hayden, WNBA Centennial Award Recipient with MS in Publishing student Jennifer Thompson.
(Photo: Rachael Kelly)