Centennial Center History

Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish

10th Year Anniversary
The Centennial Center was founded in 2008, at the culmination of the William Smith Centennial celebration. In fall 2018, the Centennial Center for Leadership celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary of success of bringing leadership education to Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Today, the Centennial Center is home of the college’s flagship programs in leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Within the past 10 years, spurred largely by student interest, the Center now develops and sustains leadership programs, driving hands-on, applied experiences that empower students to create social change, pursue innovative solutions to big challenges and become leaders in their fields. To celebrate this momentous occasion, a dinner was held with the Board of Trustees where Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82, HWS trustee was presented the Centennial Bowl for her contributions during the William Smith Centennial celebration in 2008 which established the Centennial Center. For more information about the Centennial Center’s 10 year anniversary feel free to view the Centennial Center’s booklet and video. To learn more about the Centennial Center’s current programs please visit our About Us page.

Leadership Café
Leadership Café was a program designed for students to enjoy good coffee, great company and compelling conversations with fellow leaders. The Centennial Center provided a wide range of perspectives, experiences and voices from the Hobart and William Smith community in order to feature a spectrum of leadership insight. The Café provided a forum for these leaders to share their stories and talk about leadership techniques, practices and the decisions that they encountered during their careers. This was meant to be small gathering so that students, staff and faculty had the opportunity to learn from one another’s leadership experience. Browse through past Leadership Café posters to learn more about previous speakers.

Leadership Institue group

Leadership Institute
Leadership Institute was a two-and-a-half day professional conference designed for student leaders from all levels of experience including HWS students and Geneva High School Juniors and Seniors. The Leadership Institute was committed to the concepts of choice, action, and collaboration. Choice: participants could choose from over 30 workshop sessions covering topics related to community, global and entrepreneurial leadership. Action: a variety of keynote speakers joined us for the conference to share their stories of leadership in action. Collaboration: The student facilitated Home Group experience was designed to offer a space for participants to reflect and debrief collectively about their conference experience. LI participants could expect to enhance their leadership potential, build an understanding of leadership complexities, foster collaborative relationships and connections with fellow students, faculty, staff, alums and community members, engage in dialogue around critical issues and much more. Learn more about Leadership Institute through former program guides. You can also view past posters and pictures of Leadership Institute participants.

The Centennial Center’s Leader-in-Residence program was designed to provide the HWS community with extended access to leaders in a variety of fields. Leadersfacilitated workshops, provided lectures and generated dynamic classroom discussions during their stay on campus.

Past Leaders-in-Residence:

  • Susan Scott ’67 is the founder and CEO of Fierce, Inc., a global leadership development and training company. In 2009, Scott met with groups from across campus holding workshops for students, faculty and staff members explaining how conversations drive individual and organizational success.
  • Lisa Miller Goldman ’74, an international management consultant, author and educator, provided leadership and entrepreneurial guidance to students, faculty and community members in 2015. She also provided students and faculty insight into actions for accelerating businesses and solving problems for companies across the globe.
  • Sabrina Horn ’83 attended two classes in 2016, “Social Innovation” and “Foundations of Entrepreneurial Leadership,” and spoke one-on-one with students to offer advice about careers in public relations and communications, as well as in startups. She also gave a talk, sharing her professional experiences in public relations, communications and technology.


603 South Main Street
Geneva, NY 14456

Phone: (315) 781-4550


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.