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WREI UPDATE— Issue 19

February 2004

IN THIS ISSUE
• Did you know?
Robert Kaufman joins WREI's Board of Directors
Women Writing Africa

Orientation for the Class of 2004 Congressional Fellows
Crossing Borders: How Women Change the Concept of Citizenship

Women in the Military
Special Offer from Women in Politics Productions
News from Former Fellows
Remembering Marilyn Salas

 

Did you know?

A Valentine's Factoid: American brides are getting older.
The age of the typical first-time bride rose again in 2002 to 25.3 years-the oldest it's been since at least 1890.

 

ROBERT KAUFMAN JOINS WREI'S BOARD

WREI is delighted to announce that Robert M. Kaufman has joined the Board of Directors. His long and distinguished career in law and public service enhances our leadership-particularly in the area of women in uniform. Mr. Kaufman is a partner in the New York firm of Proskauer Rose, where he specializes in non-profit organizations. He is familiar with the ways of Washington, having spent a number of years as Senator Jacob Javits's top legislative staffer. His many awards-from promoting health research to supporting women judges to being named Wilmington, Vermont's gardener of the year-demonstrate the breadth of his interests.

Mr. Kaufman's commitment to women in the military began in 1977, when he was named to the Board of Visitors at West Point. He served for many years on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and still attends their meetings.

In announcing Mr. Kaufman's appointment, WREI Board president Jean Stapleton noted, "We are very fortunate to add an individual of Bob Kaufman's character and accomplishments to our organization. All of us look forward to working with him to promote WREI's mission-particularly in strengthening the rights and responsibilities of American women in uniform."

 

WOMEN WRITING AFRICA

A turn-away crowd helped WREI welcome Chiedza Musengezi of Zimbabwe Women Writers and Margaret Daymond of the University of Natal to Washington on February 10th. These two editors of WOMEN WRITING AFRICA: THE SOUTHERN REGION were recognized at a reception and reading at the Woman's National Democratic Club sponsored by WREI, The Feminist Press, the Older Women's League, the National Council of Women's Organizations, and the National Council of Negro Women.

His Excellency Simbi Mubako, Ambassador of Zimbabwe, joined in saluting the guests of honor and well as this ten-year project by the Feminist Press at the City University of New York to research a rich but hidden literary tradition that has become a project of cultural reconstruction to restore African women's voices to the public sphere. The series makes visible the oral and written expression of African women, since the definition of "writing" has been deliberately broadened to include
songs, poems, and significant oral texts, as well as short fiction, poetry, letters, journals, and journalism.

 

ORIENTATION FOR THE 2004 CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWS

The new Congressional Fellows on Women & Public Policy-seven strong-started a two-week orientation on January 12th. Their introduction to the ways and means of Capitol Hill reads like a "Who's Who" of former Fellows.

On Day #1, the new Fellows heard from Sonya Kandathil and Jessica Donze, both from the class of 2003. Jessica, who is currently manager of national nutrition policy for the American Dietetic Association, handled health and nutrition issues for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) last year, while Sonia covered health caucuses for Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA). Sonia is hard at work on her dissertation in public health for Oregon State University.

They were followed by Shari Miles, executive director of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, who has a long association with WREI, first as a WREI Fellow (class of 1989-90), then as Fellowship Director, and finally as executive director. Shari offered "big picture" advice (interviewing, selecting an office, negotiating the legislative process) as well as important details ("Always keep a second pair of pantyhose and some decent heels in your desk for that unexpected meeting with the boss.")

Julie Okoniewski (class of 2002) gave the Fellows a tour of her office in the Rayburn building on their second day of orientation, introducing them to her colleagues on Senator Nydia Velasquez's (D-NY) staff. Julie explained the logistics of working in the House and talked about her portfolio-the environment, women's issues, judiciary, international relations, human rights, and the military.

Lisa Maatz (class of 1997-98) helped the class of 2004 establish goals as they considered specific Hill placements. Lisa, now director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women, had warm words for her former boss, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Fellows learned about the labor union movement from Jo Deutsch (class of 1985-86), who is now working in political affairs at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). You can view a wonderful picture of Jo and her partner, Teresa Williams, and their three children who are part of the Human Rights Campaign's American families ads. Go to
http://www.hrc.org/millionformarriage/hrc_adcenter/ and be sure to click on the Q&A for a video clip of Jo and Teresa's appearance at the National Press Club.

Special thanks to this brain trust of Fellowship alumnae-as well as to the other outstanding orientation speakers-whose wisdom and wit helped the Class of 2004 hit the ground running. Tune in next issue to learn about the Congressional offices they've selected.

 

CROSSING BORDERS: HOW WOMEN CHANGE THE NATURE OF CITIZENSHIP

WREI's Crossing Borders working group held a third all-day meeting in Washington on December 12th. The group now includes 11 members, ranging from a professor of classics and history to an immigration attorney in Newark, New Jersey. Discussion was lively, as the White House has put this issue onto the front burner with the President's temporary worker initiative. WREI will release an immigration briefing book in May in conjunction with a Capitol Hill seminar of scholars, lawyers, and immigration policy people brought together to discuss our findings.

 

WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

Take a look at the February issue of "Women's Review of Books." That's where you'll find "Military Women: who they are, what they do, why it matters," a thoughtful and informative essay by Captain Lory Manning, director of WREI's women in the military project.

 

SPECIAL OFFER FROM WOMEN IN POLITICS PRODUCTIONS

The 30-minute documentary, "A Woman's World: Women in Politics," examines how women of both parties have influenced American politics and includes interviews with women members of both the House and the Senate. This useful tool for educators and any young woman interested in politics is now on sale for $10.00 plus $3.00 for first class shipping and handling. Contact Women in Politics Productions at 610-345-9279 or womeninpolitics@cleanweb.net to order or for more information.

 

NEWS FROM FORMER FELLOWS

Kim Mason (class of 2001) will marry David Talmage on May 1st. They have bought and are restoring a 100 year-old home in Alexandria, Virginia. Kim is a campus organizer for the Unitarian Universalist church and David just took part in a photography exhibit at a local gallery.


REMEMBERING MARILYN SALAS

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Marilyn Salas, a fellow in the class of 1999-2000. She died in Albuquerque in November, following surgery. As a WREI Fellow, Marilyn covered health and environmental issues for Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia. A nurse-midwife, she came to the Fellowship with 23 years of experience practicing maternal and child nursing in New Mexico. She was head nurse at Albuquerque's University Hospital, where she established a foster
grandparent program for substance-exposed babies. Twice she was selected New Mexico's Nurse of the Year. Marilyn described with great enthusiasm the year she spent qualifying for her master's degree in midwifery, when she traveled across the vast Navajo and Zuni reservations to deliver babies.

Marilyn was the proud and devoted mother of Stephanie, Aaron and Angela. Just this year, she helped deliver her first two grandchildren. Her death at the age of only is a sad loss for her family and for her many friends and colleagues.