Alumni

A depiction of Mary Draper Ingles, a Virginia pioneer, is one of the life-size figures featured at the Voices from the Garden monument.

A depiction of Mary Draper Ingles, a Virginia pioneer, is one of the life-size figures featured at the Voices from the Garden monument.

When then-Sen. Walter Stosch told a group of women eager to amplify women’s achievements in Virginia history that he’d introduce a resolution to the General Assembly and then “Susan will take care of the rest,” he wasn’t kidding.

It didn’t take long for Susan Clarke Schaar, W’72, clerk of the Virginia Senate for nearly 30 years, to become invested in the project. As a member of the Women’s Monument Commission, she helped carry the torch from the late Em Bowles Locker Alsop, an activist who originated the idea that the commonwealth needed a monument to honor the role women have played in its 400-year history. Ten years later, Virginia is dedicating a monument at Richmond’s Capitol Square recognizing the range of women’s influence.

But what did it mean to “take care of the rest,” exactly? As Schaar explained, it included partnering with the Library of Virginia and women’s studies professors to develop a list of women who have made significant but often unrecognized contributions, holding focus groups, and soliciting and reviewing 36 proposals before settling on a plan. And, of course, fundraising.

The monument, Voices from the Garden, will feature 12 life-size bronze statues in an elliptical design that visitors can walk through, with a glass wall displaying the names of hundreds more women. Eight statues will be completed in time for the Oct. 14 dedication.

“We did research across the country, and even some internationally, and we didn’t find another monument that covered the span of history that this one is covering and told the stories of so many women from all walks of life,” Schaar said. “We’re very proud of what we have accomplished.”