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March 2005

• Did you know?
• Susan Scanlan to be honored by International Women’s Democracy Center (IWDC)
• WREI Fellows -- Class of 2005 begins work on Capitol Hill
• Women in the Military News
• Former Fellows -- Nicole Venable receives PLEN Award


Did you know?
While the role of First Lady is traditionally reserved for Presidential wives, eleven other women have served as First Ladies when the President was unmarried or widowed. Usually a female relative or close family friend took on the job. For example, Dolley Madison first served as First Lady for widower Thomas Jefferson and then for her own husband, James. Sometimes the First Lady delegates her duties to another woman when she is unable to fulfill them herself. From January 3 – 20, 2001, Chelsea Clinton took over First Lady duties when her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was sworn in as the junior Senator from New York.


WREI Fellows -- Class of 2005 begins work on Capitol Hill

After two weeks of orientation to the ways and means of Congress, the 2005 WREI Fellows are starting work in the House and Senate and on committees.

JAIME HAWK, an attorney from Gonzaga University, is now a legal fellow on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Judiciary Committee staff, where she works on immigration, judicial nominations, bankruptcy, the ERA, and civil liberties.

DEB JESSUP, a nurse-midwife pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing and health policy at George Mason University, accepted an offer from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) to work on HHS appropriations, health policy, and women’s issues.

IRENE LIN accepted a placement with the minority staff of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Trade, where she focuses on global trade issues such as CAFTA. Irene received her master’s in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University.

RENEE NEELY will soon receive her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Argosy University. She covers a range of healthcare, judicial, education and workforce issues for Rep. Bobby Scott (VA). Renee is currently mastering the intricacies of the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee.

KAREN PERSIS, a recent graduate of the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, handles a wide range of women’s issues for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY). Karen is spearheading the Congresswoman's efforts to garner support for the Equal Rights Amendment and is also working on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act and legislation to end tax breaks for corporations that discriminate.

BRENDA RITSON is a fourth year medical student at Yale University, likely to pursue residency training in internal medicine and women's health. She now works on medical malpractice reform, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, women's health issues, and access to healthcare in rural areas for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

PATTY SKUSTER covers a range of legal issues, including reproductive rights and judicial nominations in the office of Senator Barbara Boxer. Patty earned both a law degree and a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan.


Former Fellows -- Nicole Venable receives PLEN Award

A fan club of former WREI Fellows was there to applaud Nicole Venable (1992-93) when she received the 2005 Mentor Award from the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) in early February. Also on hand was her once and now current boss, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) who recently named her his chief of staff because she was “the most talented individual” for the job.

Nicole’s career has taken many successful turns since her Fellowship with Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana. A graduate of Spelman College and a master’s student in international economics/affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, she covered NAFTA and U.S. policy toward Cuba, Haiti, and Somalia for the former chairman of the then-House Foreign Affairs Committee. Nicole arrived on the Hill with considerable international experience, including internships at the American Embassy in London and with Africare’s West African Region Office.

From 1996-98, she worked for the Clinton Administration in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Then it was back to the Hill in 1999 as senior policy advisor to Rep. Jefferson on Ways and Means legislation. That’s when Nicole was one of three Democratic staffers who negotiated the language of the Trade Promotion Authority Act that grants the President fast track trade bargaining authority. She then moved to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America as assistant vice president for economic and multilateral affairs.


Susan Scanlan to be honored by International Women’s Democracy Center (IWDC)

WREI President Susan Scanlan will receive special recognition at the International Women’s Democracy Center’s annual Congressional Reception on March 9. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York is to present her award.

Former Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan will host the evening event at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC. Senator John Kerry will introduce Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, winner of IWDC’s 2005 Global Democracy Award.

IWDC works to establish women’s global leadership through training, education, networking, and research with a particular focus on increasing the participation of women in government. Their ongoing programs across Africa, the Middle East, and in Northern Ireland successfully train women to organize and run for office.


Women in the Military News:
WREI contributes military chapter for 50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives

The National Council of Women's Organizations has organized and edited 50 Ways to Improve Women's Lives: The Essential Guide for Achieving Equality, Health, and Success for All with 50 individual articles written by Members of Congress and experts in member organizations. Covering subjects as diverse as pay equity, reproductive health, leadership, athletics, and childcare, 50 Ways addresses topics that affect women on a personal and political level--and provides readers with ways to move beyond tired arguments and turn inspiration into action.

Under the Lead the Way section, Captain Lory Manning, U.S. Navy (ret.), director of WREI's Women in the Military project, has written a chapter entitled "Recognize Women in the Military." She is joined by such policymakers as Senator Dianne Feinstein ("Run for Office") and Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney ("Equalize Constitutional Rights"), Jan Schakowsky ("Preserve a Healthy Environment"), Ileana Ros-Lethinen ("Secure Prenatal Care Globally"), and Hilda Solis ("Address the Unique Needs of Immigrant Women"). Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright provides a thoughtful Afterword on women taking their place at the global table.

The book will be launched at a Capitol Hill reception on Tuesday, March 15, attended by Members of Congress, the authors, and other leaders in Washington's women's community. Copies of 50 Ways to Improve Women's Lives can be purchased via the National Council.


Women in the Military Today conference

Planning is well underway for WREI’s two-day conference on Women in the Military Today on May 19-20 at the WIMSA Memorial at Arlington Cemetery. Look for the conference schedule and registration information in late March. Presentations have already been scheduled on women’s roles in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom and in the Canadian armed forces. Among our speakers are Christine Hansen, Executive Director of The Miles Foundation, and Aaron Belkin of the Center for Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California at Santa Barbara.