Women of Impact 2023: Sr. Rosalie Pizzo ‘52 and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins with Two ND Students At Rally

by Amabelle '25

Notre Dame’s annual “Women of Impact” luncheon honors two women, both of whom have made significant contributions within our community. These women exemplify Notre Dame’s graduation outcomes of being a lifelong learner, a spiritual seeker, a justice advocate and a community leader. On Oct. 13, our community celebrated this year’s alum honoree, Sr. Rosalie Pizzo ‘52, and community honoree, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins. 

Sr. Rosalie Pizzo ‘52 embodied the remarkable Notre Dame legacy outside of her time as a student, as she is now a beloved member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Her seventy years of devotion towards education, pastoral ministry, social justice and religious leadership speaks for itself. Sr. Rosalie has sought to empower the dignity of every person by building diverse communities of goodness, faith and learning, which she shared in a poignant speech at the annual luncheon attended by more than 400 members of the Notre Dame community. Some guests included Mayor Matt Mahan and former Mayor, Sam Liccardo - sister Rosalie’s cousin!

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is a social justice advocate and businesswoman. She has served as the co-founder and CEO of Promise, a technology company building a bridge between governments and the citizens they serve, the Head of Care at Honor, a start-up providing people with access to in-home healthcare professionals, and the manager of legendary musician Prince, among many other roles. Deemed by San Jose Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley, Ellis-Lamkins has continued using her voice and power to fight for equity in our community. 

Two Notre Dame ASB Community Programming Homeroom Representatives, Selena ‘24 and Maya ‘25, interviewed Ellis-Lamkins as part of a schoolwide assembly. Phaedra emphasized that every major change in history was the vision and actions of young people, like us students. She shares that the younger generation is the future, empowering us to make strides with the power already in us. Referencing a quote from the icon Prince himself, Ellis-Lamkins said the artist once told her, “Do you want to play in Madison Square Garden or do you want to play in your backyard?” She reminds us that not everyone can see our goals, so it’s important to block out the noise. 

Lastly, as a word of advice for a room of young female leaders, otherwise known as future Women of Impact, she explains that being a female leader does not mean you have to pretend to be a man. We must embrace our identity and what makes us unique.          

We thank both Sr. Rosalie Pizzo ‘52 and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins for their participation in our luncheon and assembly. 2023’s Women of Impact is certainly one for the books, inspiring everyone who was lucky enough to experience it. The Notre Dame community has much to learn from trailblazers Sr. Rosalie Pizzo ‘52 and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins.