Arabella (Belle) Babb Mansfield graduated from Iowa Wesleyan University in 1866. The following year she began studying law with her brother at his law office in Mount Pleasant, and in 1869 Belle sat for the bar exam and became the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States. Belle never practiced law in the traditional sense. Instead, she enjoyed a long and successful career as an educator, public orator, world traveler, art historian and journalist.

The Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium pays homage to her legacy of achievement and the impact of women in Iowa Wesleyan’s past, present and future. It also celebrates the significant impact of women in national affairs.


Thursday, March 17, 2022
Iowa Wesleyan University is pleased to announce the 7th annual Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium, to be held on Thursday, March 17, 2022. Mark your calendars for this signature annual event which bridges the past and the present; honoring the legacy of Arabella Belle Babb Mansfield and celebrating the work of today’s courageous and inspirational leaders.


Iowa Wesleyan extends sincere appreciation to the following sponsors and volunteers for their dedication to the 2020 Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium.

Honorary Chairs

Michael and Vanessa Patten

Host Committee

Anita Hampton ’71
Abigail Heaton
Kara Mandrell-Avis
Denise McCormick ’89
Elizabeth McLaughlin
Betty Mullen ’75
Kristi Perry
Josie Thomas

Pioneer Sponsors

President Christine Plunkett and John Watson
Christie, L.H.D. ’99 and Secretary Tom Vilsack, L.H.D. ’93

Educator Sponsors

Mr. Paul ’75 and Mrs. Joyce Dennison, KILJ Inc.

Scholar Sponsors

The Honorable Mary Ann Brown
Ms. Mary Elgar ’75
Elizabeth ’67, L.H.D. ’11 and Mr. Richard Garrels ’66
Mrs. Melinda and Mr. Alan Huisinga
The Honorable Annette ’77 and John Scieszinski, D.D.S.

Advocate Sponsors

Ms. Nella Elliott
Ms. Amy Frantz
Mrs. Sarah Goff
Mr. Michael ‘72 and
Mrs. Anita Hampton ‘71
Ms. Krysta Harden
Dr. Steve and Mrs. Chris Hedlund
Ms. Allison Jacobs
McCoid & McCoid Attorneys at Law
Mrs. Denise McCormick ’89
Mr. Kenneth and Mrs. Patricia Madden
Dr. Vince Mahoney
Carol Nemitz ’56, L.H.D. ’03
Mrs. Lisa Oetken
Mrs. Kristi Perry
Kathleen Schmidt, Ed.D.
Mr. Chad Sloat
Steven E. Titus, J.D., PhD. and
Mrs. Sara Titus, J.D.
  • null

    Belle Babb Mansfield Award

    The Belle Babb Mansfield Award honors individuals who embody the legacy of Belle.

  • null

    Belle Babb Mansfield

    Belle Babb Mansfield, the first US Woman Attorney in 1869.

  • null

    Belle Babb Mansfield Statue

    Belle Babb Mansfield Statue by Artist Benjamin Victor.

Belle Mansfield Text

Leadership Team

Mary Elgar `75
Meg Richtman
Sara Titus
Anna Villareal
Dr. Christie Vilsack, L.H.D. `99