Circles of support help make voices 
heard organizationally

By Lin Lofley

Nearly 200 members of the UT Southwestern Medical Center community came together in a lecture hall below Eugene McDermott Plaza in late October to see a live video streaming event featuring Sheryl Sandberg, author of the best-selling book Lean In.

The video event kicked off Lean In on Campus, a nationwide initiative that streamed Ms. Sandberg’s talk to more than 150 campuses on six continents. Attendees on campus included students from all three of the UT Southwestern schools, as well as faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research technicians, and other employees.

Lean In
About 200 UT Southwestern Medical Center students, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research technicians, and other employees were on hand for a live video streaming featuring Sheryl Sandberg, author of the best-selling book Lean In

After welcoming remarks by Dr. Helen Yin, Assistant Dean for the Office of Women’s Careers and Professor of Physiology, and by Lauren Tyra, a member of the UT Southwestern Student Lean In Committee, Ms. Sandberg outlined Lean In’s goals and aspirations, and the choices facing what she said will be “the Lean In Generation.”

“The good news is that you get to choose what path you want to be on,” said Ms. Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. “Do you want to have children? Do you want a life partner? Who will that partner be?”

To the delight of the audience – mostly students and mostly women, and with a mix of about a dozen faculty members – she counseled that “if you are going to partner someone, choose wisely. Date whomever you want. You can date the bad boys, but don’t marry them. Marry the ones who are at these viewing parties.”

She also told audience members to “support each other. No one does anything alone. None of us.”

Lean In Students
Students celebrate the Lean-In initiative during the viewing party. Students are, front from left, Hillary Cansler, Xiaoxiao Li, Courtney Lane, Stephanie Lepp, and Victoria (Tori) Burton; back row, from left, Lauren Tyra, Devon Crawford, Priyank Dhar, and Molly Gillam.

Lean In’s organizational structure, the base of which is its Circles, offers members – the program does not exclude males – the opportunity to gather together and make their voices heard. Pointing to a burgeoning movement toward Lean In Circles in the business world, Ms. Sandberg wrapped up by saying “This is a leadership program for you.”

Ms. Tyra, a third-year doctoral student in Neuroscience who works in the laboratory of Dr. Helmut Kramer, Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, said, “We only found out about 10 days ago that we were going to do this. As of this morning, Lean In on Campus has about 100 campus leaders across the world, and three of those are from UT Southwestern. We hope to have several Circles.”

The other UT Southwestern campus leaders are Stephanie Lepp, a third-year graduate student in Neuroscience, working in the lab of Dr. Genevieve Konopka, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience; and Xiaoxiao Li, a fourth-year M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Yihong Wan, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology.


Dr. Konopka is a Jon Heighton Scholar in Autism Research.

Dr. Wan is a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Medical Research.

Dr. Yin holds the Peter and Jean D. Dehlinger Professorship in Biomedical Science.