Service Above Self

Meaghan de Chateauvieux reflects on the elements of her Nazareth experience that she continues to call on now.

by Velvet Spicer

Meaghan de Chateauvieux

Meaghan de Chateauvieux ’03’s work in social justice began at the tender age of 11 while she babysat neighborhood kids. She hosted a summer camp and organized bike parades, all in the name of bringing people together.

Her passion for equity and human rights continues today. As president and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center since 2018, de Chateauvieux oversees an agency that serves 7,000 individuals annually and has a staff of roughly 80. She is charged with ensuring that survivors of domestic violence have a safe, supportive space, whether through Willow’s shelter, its counseling center, its work in the court system, or by other means.

De Chateauvieux’s undergraduate degree from Nazareth in psychology, with minors in women’s studies and multicultural studies, helped prepare her to be a strong, critical thinker, she says.

In her course of study, she notes, she learned “to learn service above self, to think about how we can understand the world around us, how to think critically and really deeply about these questions, and how we as individuals fit into that and how we can make a difference.” In addition, she says, “It prepared me in interesting ways for my career, to think about things a little bit differently than I might have to broaden my perspective.”

De Chateauvieux credits a number of professors, including David Page and Otieno Kisiara, with helping her evolve into the leader she is today. Page, a psychology professor, brought material to life in a very real, and often hilarious, way. De Chateauvieux recalls him doing jumping jacks in front of the class to demonstrate principles of statistics, for example.

Page’s lessons have helped De Chateauvieux in her current work, she says. One important thing she learned from him, which she says she still applies, is that “you can find ways to dig into the data to tell the stories that you want to, or to uncover what might be missing.”

Kisiara, a professor of anthropology, helped break open de Chateauvieux’s perspective, the CEO says, and helped her think more deeply about empathy and understanding.

“That class was focused on the liminal state, so we talked a lot about transitions, rites of passage, coming of age stories, and that focus on change. And how you find that cohort of people who are also going through that change, and the ties you make during those times of transition in your life,” de Chateauvieux says. “Those folks are there with you forever. I think about that with my work now, particularly at Willow.”

The connection between Nazareth and de Chateauvieux does not end with her degree. Willow works with the College, both in its Title IX office and with its social work program. Interns from Nazareth serve in Willow’s shelter and in its counseling center.

In the nearly two decades since de Chateauvieux graduated, the campus has grown tremendously, she says, and she credits Nazareth President Beth Paul with continuing that growth.

“She is so impressive. I think she is taking it in really promising directions,” de Chateauvieux says. “I feel like the spirit of what I love so much about Nazareth still carries on today.”

De Chateauvieux says what served her well while in school was her curiosity and openness to new challenges.

“I feel like Nazareth really provided me with this broad worldview and the foundation for this career of service above self,” she says. That’s why, many years later, she’s still bringing people together.

Velvet Spicer is a writer in Rochester, NY.

More about President Paul

President Beth Paul became Nazareth's 10th president July 1, 2020.