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.


NEW Date – Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Iowa Wesleyan University recognizes the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. In order to gather safely, this year’s speaker will attend virtually. Social distancing guidelines will be followed and masks are required for all in attendance. Note, a recording of the “An Evening with Belle” lecture will be provided for those who prefer not to attend in person.

Mansfield Awardee Caryl Stern

Schedule of Events

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

“In Conversation with Caryl M. Stern”: Discussion and Q&A
11:00 a.m.

University Chapel, Iowa Wesleyan University
Seating Limited, Preference Given to Student Attendees

Join activist, author, and non-profit executive Caryl M. Stern, Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation, for an interactive discussion and Q&A. Moderated by Michael Patten, General Manager of Walmart Distribution Center #6009.

Belle Babb Mansfield National Votes for Women Trail Marker Dedication
3:00 p.m.

Campus Lawn, Belle Babb Mansfield Statue, Iowa Wesleyan University

A celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and recognition of Mansfield’s role in the women’s suffrage movement. Brief remarks will be shared before the marker unveiling and dedication. Refreshments will be served.

“An Evening with Belle” Lecture
7:00 pm

Virtual Event; Contact anna.villareal@iw.edu for details

Join Caryl M. Stern, Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation and former President and CEO of UNICEF USA, for a dynamic lecture on rural philanthropy and engagement.

“An Evening with Belle” Lecture Tickets

If you registered for the “An Evening with Belle” Dinner in March 2020 before the event postponement, seats have been reserved for you at the November 12th  Lecture. Please call 319.385.6212 or email anna.villareal@iw.edu to confirm your attendance or request a link to the recorded program following the event.

Thank You!

Thank you to all of the volunteers who have made the 2020 Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium possible
2020 Honorary Chairs
Michael and Vanessa Patten
2020 Leadership Team
Mary Elgar `75
Meg Richtman
Sara Titus
Anna Villareal
Dr. Christie Vilsack, L.H.D. `99
Host Committee
Anita Hampton `71
Abigail Heaton
Kara Mandrell-Avis
Denise McCormick `89
Elizabeth McLaughlin
Betty Mullen `75
Kristi Perry
Josie Thomas