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Congressional Fellowships
on Women and Public Policy

Class of 2001

This year's class of WREI Fellows includes three social workers, two political scientists, and one public service manager. They range in age from 24 to 49 and hail from the Midwest, Southwest, deep South, and East Coast. Two Fellows are mothers of college students and one Fellow is a sister of a Former Fellow.

According to WREI's Board President, actress Jean Stapleton: "Like the 212 WREI Fellows who preceded them, the eight outstanding women in the Class of 2001 arrived on Capitol Hill with energy, enthusiasm, and scholarly insight. They will depart with a keen understanding of the political process and the empowerment that hard-learned lessons bring. What a win-win situation for the Fellows, their Congressional offices and the Women's Research & Education Institute!" Founded in 1977, WREI is a national public policy research and educational center, whose mission is to inform and shape the public policy debate on issues affecting women and their roles in the family, workplace, and public arena. Through these fellowships as well as numerous publications, conferences, and briefings, WREI seeks to strengthen links between researchers and policymakers.

 

Deborah S. Alexander of Warren, NJ is working on environmental issues, teacher shortages, and a new Congressional task force on brain injury for Congressman William J. Pascrell of New Jersey. Ms. Alexander received her master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, with a cross-disciplinary concentration in political science and history and a certificate in women's studies. A graduate of Boston University's School for the Performing Arts, she has spent more than twenty years as a professional musician with orchestras in the U.S. and abroad including work under conductors Bernstein, Mehta, and Dutoit. She is now pursuing a new career path: following her WREI Fellowship, she plans to attend Rutgers Law School. Ms. Alexander was formerly on the history faculty at Philadelphia University and volunteered as an open space activist in her community.

 

Robin Brazley, a native of Long Island, is pursuing a doctorate in urban education leadership at Morgan State University. Assigned to New York Congressman Major Owen's staff, she covers education and children's issues. Her professional goal is to influence education reform policy to ensure that equal educational opportunity is a reality for all Americans. Before her doctoral studies, Robin was a program associate for the Child Care Action Campaign, coordinator of the African American Sisterhood project for the Long Island Fund for Women and Girls, and the interim director of a community action program. She taught philosophy and ethics courses at Long Island University, CW Post campus, Hofstra University, and St. Joseph's College and managed a family-owned bookstore and African art gallery. Robin served two nonconsecutive terms as an elected member of the Hempstead Board of Education, including one term as president. Community projects she has initiated include the Save Our Schools Coalition, Parent Resource Center, Community Development Center, and the Fannie Lou Hammer Democratic Action Coalition. Robin earned two baccalaureate degrees, one in philosophy and one in speech communication, from Morgan State University (1980), and received her master's in applied philosophy from Bowling Green State University (1982). She is the mother of two children, Brazley, a sophomore at Morgan State University and Malachi, a high school junior.

 

Maria De Iasi of Jersey City, NJ graduated from New Jersey City University with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. She works on health care, welfare, and women's issues for Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. Maria holds master's degrees in both social work and public administration from Rutgers University. In addition, she has earned graduate credits in early childhood education as well as conflict resolution. A member of the Communications Workers of America for more than 15 years, Maria worked as a child abuse investigator in the state of New Jersey. Her volunteer work has included working in a hospital emergency room, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, tutoring for Literacy Volunteers of America, and serving as an Eucharistic minister.

 

Aviva Klein works on women's health, social security, and Medicare in the office of Congressman Adam Schiff of California. She received a master's degree in public policy with a concentration in women's studies from the George Washington University in January 2001. Ms. Klein grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida, where she attended the Hebrew Academy. She also studied abroad in Israel for a year. While in graduate school, Aviva took a semester off to help research the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League's state-by-state report. Aviva received her undergraduate degree from Yeshiva University and is currently a youth director for Congregation Kneseth Israel, in Annapolis, MD.

 

Kimberly Mason is handling women's health and domestic violence issues for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York. She was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and lived in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Asheville, NC before her family settled in Raleigh, NC. Kim received her B.A. in English and communications from Pfeiffer University where she edited the campus newspaper, founded Emily's Place, a women's issues organization, and competed on the varsity swim team. Kim received her master's of mass communication in journalism from the University of Georgia in May 2000. Her master's project, which was a study of the cover prices of newspapers was published (much abbreviated!) in the November 2000 issue of Presstime Magazine. While in graduate school, Kim volunteered on the speaker's bureau for the Northeast Georgia Sexual Assault Center where she gave presentations to schools, and civic, community, and university groups. Before coming to Washington, Kim worked as a research analyst for Morris Communications in Augusta, GA. She also publishes a women's 'zine called Voice.

 

Katrice Price, a native of Thibodaux, LA, covers health, women's issues, and educational issues for Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia. She graduated cum laude from Dillard University in sociology/social welfare. Katrice received a master's in social work with a concentration in clinical practice from Tulane University School of Social Work. She holds a Graduate Social Work (GSW) license, an intermediate level license for social workers from Tulane University. While completing her field practicum at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana, Katrice completed her thesis in the hospital's women and child services unit and outlined policy implications to improve the services to mothers and their newborn infants. She has counseled victims of domestic violence and worked at a community hospital in New Orleans to find social services for new mothers and their babies. Before accepting a WREI Fellowship, Katrice worked at Maison Orleans, a 220-bed senior center, as a social services director for senior residents. She is the first Fellow to follow her sister into the program. Kim Price (class of 1999-2000) worked on education issues for Senator Ted Kennedy last year.

 

Raissa "Joy" Raatz covers older women's issues and is liaison to the Congressional Women's Caucus in the office of the Caucus's cochair Juanita Millender-McDonald of California. She is currently working on her doctorate in public health and women's health from Indiana University, where she was an associate instructor. Joy received a master's degree in education from the University of Louisville with a minor in counseling. Prior to her doctoral studies, Joy worked as a health educator/community planner with the Louisville, Kentucky Health Department, focusing on women at high risk for HIV/AIDS. She also worked at a clinic for women who tested positive for AIDS. Joy spent a summer in Belize working with UNICEF on a book about the status of women which was used as a tool for the purpose of education and to impact policy change. Joy has volunteered at the Hospice of Louisville as a bereavement volunteer for five years. She has a daughter attending college.

 

Patricia Rojas of Texas is currently pursuing an MSW at the University of Houston's Graduate School of Social Work. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. She handles child labor and immigration issues in the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California. Before arriving on Capitol Hill, she worked as a liaison for immigrants on the district staff of U.S. Representative Ken Bentsen of Texas. A native of Chihuahua, Mexico, Ms. Rojas uses her fluent Spanish to respond to the needs of the Latino community in Houston. In her graduate internship at the PIVOT Project of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, she facilitated groups for male perpetrators of domestic violence. Trained as a mediator, she previously conducted civil dispute mediations for the Dispute Resolution Center, which provides free services to the residents of Harris County. In 1997, her love for children led her to teach an after-school program for third graders for the I Have a Dream dropout prevention program in Houston's inner city. Because she is particularly interested in finding a solution to the barriers undocumented students face in their attempts to go to college, Ms. Rojas became a founding member of the Coalition for Higher Education for Immigrant Students. Her international experience includes spending a summer in 1997 learning Portuguese and working in a daycare center with children of indigent families in Brazil. The following year, she taught family planning in Tijuana, Mexico to young women in juvenile detention. She has presented at state conferences, which include the National Association of Social Workers and Amnesty International.