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Congressional Fellowships
on Women and Public Policy

Class of 2003

This year's class of WREI Fellows range in age from 24 to 50 and hail from the Midwest, Southwest, and East Coast.

 

Jolein Anderson, a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, is working on international women's rights and health issues, including the African AIDS crisis and stoning, for Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN). Jolein's interest in international women's rights began during her six months in a Working Abroad program in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in political science with an emphasis in international/comparative politics at Idaho State University, where she also received her B.A. in political science. Jolein has worked her way through high school, college and graduate school as a point of sales supervisor at a local store.

 

 

Melanie Donohue. Originally from Pennsylvania, Melanie is a master's candidate in political social work at the University of Houston. Her Congressional assignment is on the staff of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), where she focuses on health care issues. Melanie's desire to learn about the public policy process stemmed from witnessing the effect of policy on her clients. For several years, Melanie worked actively in Texas to end violence against women. She was a battered woman's advocate in both shelter and non-residential agencies. Melanie earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of St. Thomas, graduating magna cum laude. Away from advocacy and academics, Melanie recently ran her second marathon. in Austin. Melanie expects to receive her master's degree in May 2002.

 

Jessica Donze is on the staff of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), where she will work on such health issues as obesity, child nutrition, Medicaid and Medicare, and bioengineering. This dovetails with her pursuit of a master's of public health at the University of Maryland. Jessica received her BS from the University of Wisconsin in nutrition and dietetics. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked in pediatric nutrition and health promotion in Delaware. Her professional credits include many consumer and nutrition publications in journals and on the web as well as several appearances on local television in Philadelphia to discuss consumer issues. Among Jessica's more unusual credentials: in high school, she finished fourth in the American Legion's national patriotic speech competition; she trains dogs to assist the disabled in independent living; she finds time to sing in local theatrical productions; and she's currently coaching first grade girl's basketball.

 

Youlanda Michelle Gibbons handles employment issues for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). She recently completed her doctorate in sociology at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Her dissertation investigates the adoption of diversity strategies in America's leading information technology corporations. Youlanda is a Georgia native who attended Mercer University in Macon, majoring in English and human development. She earned four master's degrees from Boston University and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in social work, public health, education, and sociology. Youlanda served as a speaker's bureau coordinator at the Massachusetts Bay chapter of the American Red Cross, promoting HIV/AIDS education in 45 cities and towns.

 

Sonia M. Kandathil is covering health caucuses for Representative Lois Capps D-CA). Her work includes legislation on school health and safety, cancer, and biomedical research, heart disease and stroke. A third year doctoral student at Oregon State University in the Department of Public Health, Sonia recently co-produced a film, "The Feminist Itch: Examining Contemporary Feminism on College Campuses." She received her BA in theater and drama from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Shortly after graduation, Sonia spent a year in India working for the Kerala Kalapeetom, an independent organization dedicated to the advancement of art in living. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Antigua and Barbuda, she worked with HIV positive students and young adults to create prevention programs. Her current interests lie in women's health and public policy, including breast and cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, and the effects of welfare reform on women's health status.

 

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Dana McGrath works in Senator Ted Kennedy's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee office. After receiving her B.A. in sociology from Rice University, where she conducted a telling assessment of the climate for women on campus, she went to work for the Feminist Majority in Los Angeles and, later, the California Women's Law Center. That's where she helped to research, write, and produce "Revelations: Exposing the Radical Right," a short but powerful documentary for Feminist Expo 2000. Dana is currently pursuing a master's in public policy with a concentration in women's studies at the George Washington University. She has also worked as a teaching assistant for the Women's Studies program at GWU, and as a research consultant at the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

 

Elizabeth Vogel is working on women's health and economic issues, including the Equal Rights/Women's Equality Amendment for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). She is currently a doctoral candidate at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, in urban services management with a cognate in health economics. She holds a master's in health services administration from the University of Michigan and received a BA in Hospital Administration from Loretto Heights College in Denver. Elizabeth's multi-faceted career includes thirty years of work in corporate health care, owning her own business, and teaching overseas. Her resume includes such diverse activities as livestock judging, numerous first place speaking awards in the Virginia Toastmasters, and scholarly travel to Addis Adaba, Ethiopa and Xian, China. To relax, Elizabeth gardens, rock climbs, paints and sails. Elizabeth has two grown sons and will be commuting regularly to Virginia Beach to visit her husband, who is in the same doctoral program at Old Dominion University.