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October 2005

• Did You Know?
• Introducing the Congressional Fellows Class of 2006
• WREI Honors Avon's Andrea Jung
Susan Scanlan to chair the National Council of Women's Organizations

• Former Fellow reading in DC!
• News of Former Fellows


Did You Know?

For hundreds of years, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint on whose day they appeared. In 1953, however, the National Weather Service adopted Naval meteorologists' practice of naming hurricanes after women. Sailors had always referred to their ships as female and often gave them women's names. This led them to claim that a "storm's temperament certainly seemed female enough, shifting directions at a whim on a moment's notice."

Male names were added to female's in 1978 for the list of Eastern North Pacific storms. The next year, they were alternated into the annual alphabetical list for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The names of particularly devastating hurricanes—like Hazel, Betsy, Camille, and certainly Katrina—are retired. French, Spanish, or English names are selected for storms on the Atlantic since these are the major languages spoken in the areas effected.



Congressional Fellows on Women & Public Policy
Introducing the Class of 2006

In the toughest competition in the 26 years of the Congressional Fellowships on Women & Public Policy, seven women scholars were selected as WREI Fellows. Thanks go to the funders who underwrite this one-of-a-kind Capitol Hill training: The Altria Group; Johnson & Johnson; the Communications Workers of America; Wyeth; the ILGWU/21st Century Heritage Fund; and Elizabeth, Martha, and Emily Ehrenfeld. Arriving in January 2006 will be--

JACQUELINE AYERS is currently Associate Director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, where she is responsible for governmental affairs, public education, and special development projects. A mass communications and government graduate of Western Kentucky University, she received her Juris Doctorate from the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis in 2004. Jacqueline is admitted to practice law in the State of Indiana, and before the United States District Courts for the Southern Districts of Indiana.

While in law school, Jacqueline spent a summer in Accra, Ghana, working on human rights issues and community mobilization. She currently volunteers with Planned Parenthood of Indiana as an advocate for women's reproductive rights. A member of the Marion County Bar Association, an organization that supports minority attorneys in Indianapolis, Jacqueline also volunteers with this group to encourage and assist high school students to attend college. She's originally from Louisville, Kentucky, where her two sisters, brother, and parents still reside. Her hobbies include event planning, reading, music, and she has a passion for sunflowers.

BERRE BURCH currently works as a child and adolescent forensic interviewer at Safe Shores: The DC Children's Advocacy Center, where she conducts interviews with children and adolescents who are victims of, or witnesses to, violent crimes in Washington, DC. Working with investigators and prosecutors, she and her colleagues promote collaboration between civil and criminal investigations. Berre received her master's in Art Therapy from the George Washington University. While at GWU, she had the opportunity to work in a variety of mental health settings, including an elementary school for children with severe emotional disturbances and Walter Reed Hospital's adult inpatient psychiatric ward. As part of her work for the Department of the Army, Berre also had the rare and rewarding experience of working at the Pentagon Family Relief Center providing support and services to the family members who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. She has presented papers at national conferences on art therapy and trauma. An Arkansas native, Berre completed her BA at Hendrix College, a liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas.

JILL FELDSTEIN has spent the last few years working in the areas of community organizing, voter mobilization, and electoral politics, bouncing back and forth between the U.S. and Latin America. She worked in Mexico last summer, interviewing state congresswomen and party leaders on the role of gender in the candidate nomination and selection process. The previous year, she served as the deputy director of a Get-Out-the-Vote effort in Washington State, where she helped mobilize more than 100,000 low-income voters for the 2004 presidential election. In 2002-2003, Jill used a Fulbright grant to train local activists on the principles of community organizing and to conduct an evaluation of a women's reproductive health advocacy project in the Andes. Jill holds a master's in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

HEIDI HOLLONBECK double majored in Global Studies and Political Science at the University of Iowa, graduating with honors. Her next stop was the Peace Corps, where she was sent to French-speaking Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa. The first two years of her service were spent in a rural village building a maternity ward. She also served on the Women in Development (WID) Committee and helped coordinate a Bike-A-Thon to increase awareness across the country of the importance of girls' education and to raise money for the WID Scholarship Program. Heidi extended her Peace Corps service for a third year to work as coordinator of the WID committee and to serve on the HIV/AIDS committee. During this time, Heidi planned a four-day "Take Our Daughters to Work" seminar for 25 new junior high school scholarship recipients, focusing on topics of self-esteem, HIV/AIDS, and career development. She also organized a three-day seminar to teach about HIV/AIDS and developed resource packets for her fellow volunteers on training HIV/AIDS trainers in their villages.

Trading Africa for Asia, Heidi next went to Japan to teach English for two years. She was employed by a Japanese school board to teach at three junior high and three elementary schools, as well as adult conversation classes. She took advantage of this opportunity not only to study the Japanese language, but also the arts of calligraphy and kendo. Upon returning to the US, Heidi enrolled in the MBA program at St. Ambrose University, with a concentration in international business.

LESLIE GREENBERG is a registered nurse. She went into nursing to "help people" and was attracted to health policy to advocate on a national level. Working as an oncology research nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC, she coordinates the clinical, financial, and operational aspects of their clinical trials. Leslie also works with community oncologists to promote research and oncology services for cancer patients in the metropolitan Washington DC area. In 2004, she earned a Master's of Nursing/Health Policy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore with with a Certificate of Health and Public Policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. During the spring of 2004, Leslie interned in the Government Affairs office of the American Nurses' Association, working on federal and state policy and grassroots lobbying. She has been very active with the Oncology Nursing Society and is a member of their Capital Gang, a nurse lobby group. Leslie participated in the 2005 One Voice Against Cancer lobby day, to raise support for increased funding for cancer research and programs. Leslie is looking forward to applying her health and policy expertise to Capital Hill.

SAVANNAH LENGSFELDER recently received her Master's in International Governance and Development from the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom. Her dissertation on the human rights responsibilities of transnational corporations was the culmination of five years of study and research in Guanajuato, Mexico; Valparaiso, Chile; Sevilla, Spain; the Hauge, the Netherlands; Pretoria, South Africa; and Brighton, England. In England, Savannah founded Advocates for Informed Democracy, a forum for student/faculty/policymaker debates on international affairs. A graduate of Stanford University in her native California, Savannah studied International Relations and Economics and minored in Latin American Studies and Spanish. At Stanford, she helped form Volunteers in Latin American, which funds summer trips for students to serve in an Ecuadorian children's shelter. She was also vice president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Savannah has interned at the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Development Policy, for a Californian Congresswoman, and at an international humanitarian aid NGO, and recently fulfilled a Fellowship working on human rights law at the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights.

ANTHEA WATSON graduated from Boston University School of Law in May, where she was the articles editor for the Boston University International Law Journal. During law school, she spent time studying the effect domestic tax policy has on women's economic choices. Anthea hopes to publish her paper, Examining the Gender Bias in the Tax Code, this fall. Prior to law school, she worked as a research assistant at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, where she researched the peace-building efforts of women in Ireland and Serbia. Anthea currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and volunteers with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and the Women's Bar Association's legislative policy committee. She enjoys any excuse to get in the water and swims with the Boston University masters swimming team.

Want to learn more about WREI's Fellowship program?


WREI honors Avon's Andrea Jung

Avon Chairman and CEO Andrea Jung accepted the 2005 American Woman Award at WREI's annual gala at The Mayflower Hotel on September 12th. More than 250 guests joined this salute to the woman Fortune magazine named "the second most powerful woman in U.S. business."

WREI president Susan Scanlan thanked Ms. Jung for beautifying women's lives: "Not just the beauty required to launch a 1000 ships, but the beauty to launch 5 million careers in more than 100 countries."

Co-host Barbara Easterling, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America and a member of the WREI Board, recognized the guest of honor's leadership of Avon's Breast Cancer Crusade, women's scholarship program, and a new initiative to fight domestic violence.

Introduced by Dr. Paula Stern, former Chair of the International Trade Commission, Andrea Jung accepted the Award with a humorous, touching, and inspiring description of climbing the corporate ladder while raising a family. She also prasied WREI's work in enhancing women's careers through the Congressional Fellowships on Women & Public Policy.

Also on hand for the evening was former Louisiana Representative Lindy Boggs, who served as Ambassador to the Vatican after leaving Congress. In 1989, Ambassador Boggs was presented WREI's first American Woman Award. In a tribute to Lindy and to all the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Allison Gendusa Block serenaded her with the Billie Holliday favorite, "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?"

See pictures from the 2005 Gala!


Susan Scanlan to chair the National Council of Women's Organizations

On November 1, WREI president Susan Scanlan will succeed Martha Burk as chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO).

Founded in 1980, NCWO is the nation's oldest and largest coalition of women's groups. Its 200 member organizations represent more than 10 million women nationwide--from Girls, Inc. to Hadassah to the American Nurses Association to the YWCA. NCWO members collaborate through substantive policy work and grassroots activism to address issues of concern to women, including workplace and economic equity, education and job training, affirmative action, Social Security, child care, reproductive freedom, health, and global progress for women's equality.

Dr. Burk is perhaps best known for heading NCWO during a national controversy over opening the membership of Augusta National Golf Club to women. She will now direct NCWO's Corporate Accountability Project. The project, which grew out of the Augusta National/Master's Golf tournament effort, spotlights unfair corporate practices and highlights enlightened policies in the workplace.

Scanlan noted that, "This will be the second time in my career that I have followed in the bootprints of a clever and charismatic Texan. The first was Betty Dooley, with whom I founded WREI and the Congresswomen's Caucus in 1977. Now it's Martha, who, with grace, good humor and a glorious Texas drawl, has regularly outwitted the heavy-handed opponents of women's rights."

Scanlan will remain president of WREI while taking the helm at NCWO.


Former Fellow reading in DC!

Robin Rogers-Dillon, a 1995/96 Congressional Fellow on Women & Public Policy and now assistant professor of sociology at Queens College, will be in Washington to read from and sign her book, "The Welfare Experiments: Politics and Policy Evaluation," in early November.

An NYU grad who received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, Robin covered Medicare, Medicaid and other federally-funded social programs for Rep. Charlie Rangel during her Fellowship. The idea for her book came from work she began on Capitol Hill.

WREI is sponsoring a book signing on Thursday, November 3. Keep your calendars open and watch for a special UPDATE invitation to this event!

Buy "The Welfare Experiments: Politics and Policy Evaluation" from Stanford University Press now!


News of Former Fellows

DARLENE ISKRA (Class of 2002) is profiled in "Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service," the second book of stories from the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. This volume contains 37 tales of U.S. servicemen and women who served in every major war from World War I through the current conflict in Iraq. Darlene leads off the Groundbreakers chapter as the first woman to graduate from Navy dive school and the first to command a surface ship, The Opportune. She was interviewed by former WREI staffer and current Library of Congress folklorist Rachel Mears. Listen to Rachel's interview of Darlene at http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/foreverasoldier/forever-chapter4.html.

WREI is claiming partial credit for the engagement of CHRISTI CORBETT (Class of 2004) and Joe Conley, a lawyer/songwriter from North Carolina. First, Christi met Joe while working on Rep. Carolyn Maloney's staff. Then, she won the custom-made evening gown at WREI's American Woman Award silent auction on September 12th, which inspired Joe to compose a song as a proposal. So, it will be a bridal gown that Christi is having designed and sewn for a January wedding.

Another bride in the Class of 2004 is POLINA MAKIEVSKY. She was married on October 7th to Paul Smaglik in his native Wisconsin. Guests were treated to a day of apple-picking and a fish boil. Polina met Paul, an editor at Nature magazine, during her Fellowship with Rep. Jan Schakowsky. She now works at the Points of Light Foundation in Washington.

Wedding bells are also ringing on October 28th for MEGAN GORDON (Class of 1998-99) and David Don, a DC telecom lawyer with Willkie Farr & Gallagher, whom she met on a blind date three years ago. Megan reports that, "there are many positives to getting married later in life, but there are also many challenges – such as what to do with two perfect good, relatively new couches!"

Her MPH from Johns Hopkins and Fellowship with Rep. Carolyn Maloney translated into a great job as director of federal government relations at the American Cancer Society. Using her ACS contacts, Megan raised the money to underwrite a WREI Fellowship in 2002. She recently left that position and plans to rejoin the "real world" once the honeymoon and move to a new condo are completed.

IRENE LIN (Class of 2005) was recently named research director for Democrat Claire McCaskill's campaign for Senate in Missouri. McCaskill, the State Auditor who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004, is taking on Republican incumbent Jim Talent. Irene mastered CAFTA issues during her Fellowship on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. Previously, she'd volunteered with Dean for America and done opposition political research for Kennedy Communications.

On September 28th, Senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama introduced the National Medical Error (MEDiC) and Disclosure Act of 2005 at a Capitol Hill press conference. This legislation aims to reduce deaths and injuries due to medical errors, address the inconsistency of the medical liability system in determining negligence and compensating patients, and reduce soaring medical liability costs. It is based on successful partnerships between a number of hospital systems and private liability insurance companies around the country that require robust disclosure of medical errors with thorough analysis and intervention, apologies for such errors and early compensation for patient injury.

The bill was researched and written by 2005 WREI BRENDA RITSON, a fourth year medical student at Yale University. Brenda came down from Yale to attend the press conference, where Senator Clinton recognized her hard work and perseverance in getting this landmark legislation introduced.