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September 22, 2000

Gala 2000
Introducing WREI's New Class of Fellows
Women in Uniform Conference
Learn the Law—Enforce Your Rights
Friends of WREI
WREI Features a Former Fellow


Close to 11 percent of the female headed households are headed by women who were born abroad. Of these foreign-born women, two out of five (40 percent) are in poverty compared to 32 percent of their native-born counterparts.



October 4th is right around the corner. Have you purchased your Gala tickets yet?

Come and join Mayor Anthony Williams and Franklin Raines, Chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, in honoring Alice Rivlin as this year's American Woman Award recipient.

As always, the Gala will begin with a silent auction to benefit WREI, and the collection of tempting auction items continues to grow. Visit our website for a sneak-peek at the list of treasures that will be available on the evening of the 4th. For example, you can treat your friends to a yuletide tour (for four) of Winterthur. This year’s tour recreates the Christmas celebrations of America’s First Families. It includes such highlights as Theodore Roosevelt and the "Forbidden" Christmas tree and Andrew Jackson’s White House "Snowball Fight." If it's paradise you prefer, whisk that someone special off to Jamaica for a week-long getaway. Soak up the sun and improve your potassium levels with beaucoup banana daiquiris in your very own four-bedroom villa. Or, enjoy a lively evening for two at DC's very own Shakespeare Theatre. To bid or not bid—that is the question!



We are absolutely delighted to announce that there will be eight WREI Fellows in the Class of 2001. Funding for four of the fellowships comes from loyal and long-term supporters of the program, Johnson & Johnson, the Communications Workers of America, and Philip Morris Companies, Inc. For the other four fellowships, we have wonderful new funders to thank: the Rapoport Family Foundation of Waco, Texas; the ILGWU Heritage Fund (and WREI board member Evy Dubrow); board member Elizabeth (Betta) Ehrenfeld; and WREI advisory council members Martha and Emily Ehrenfeld (Betta's daughters).

Here are brief bios of the outstanding scholars who will be coming to Washington in January to begin their fellowships with the 107th Congress.

Deborah Alexander – M.A., women’s studies, University of Pennsylvania Deborah recently received her master's degree in interdisciplinary liberal arts. The daughter of two union-organizing musicians, Deborah is a professional percussionist in the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra. She has played in orchestras in Israel, Brazil, and around the country. To support herself as a working classical musician who trained with members of the Boston Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, Deborah took a number of jobs. Perhaps the most unusual was corporate cashier at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Robin Brazley – Ph.D. candidate, urban education leadership, Morgan State University Robin received her bachelor's degree with a double major in philosophy and speech communication from Morgan State University. She received her master's in applied philosophy from Bowling Green State University. Until recently, Robin was a middle-school teacher in Baltimore’s public school system, where her experience included drop-out prevention, grant administration, and promoting educational achievement for at-risk populations. She also has extensive experience as a public speaker. Robin has a daughter in college and a teenage son.

Maria De Iasi – M.P.A./M.S.W., Rutgers University Maria received a master's degree in public administration from Rutgers University in 1994 and recently completed a master's in social work. She has worked for ten years as a New Jersey state child abuse investigator in Jersey City. Maria volunteers for Literacy of America and New Jersey Cares and is a member of the Communications Workers of America.

Aviva Klein – M.A. candidate, women’s studies, George Washington University Aviva will receive her degree in public policy with a concentration in women’s studies in January 2001. She took a semester off to help research a state-by-state report for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Aviva received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Stern College of Yeshiva University. For the past two years she has served as youth director for Congregation Kneseth Israel in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Senator Lieberman is also a member of this congregation.)

Kimberly Mason – M.A., journalism, University of Georgia At Pfeiffer University, where she received her bachelor's degree in English and communications, Kimberly edited the campus newspaper for three years. She also founded Emily’s Place, a women’s issues organization, and competed on the varsity swim team. Kimberly currently works as a research analyst for Morris Communications and volunteers as an advocate at the Rape Crisis Sexual Assault Services in North Augusta, GA. Her writing skills have gone electronic: she also produces Voice, a feminist "zine."

Katrice Price – M.S.W. candidate, Tulane University Katrice graduated cum laude from Dillard University with a degree in sociology and social work. She has counseled victims of domestic violence and worked at a community hospital in New Orleans to find assistance for new mothers and their babies. Katrice currently works at Maison Orleans as a social services counselor for senior residents. Her sister is Kimala Price, who recently completed a WREI Fellowship on Senator Kennedy's staff. This sister act is a first for the WREI Fellowship program.

Joy Raatz – Ph.D. candidate, public health, Indiana University Joy will receive her doctorate in public and women's health next year from Indiana University, where she is currently an associate instructor. Originally trained as an electronic technician, Joy started at Spaulding College and worked her way through her B.S. in communications. She then went on to earn her M.Ed. in community health from University of Louisville. She's worked as a research assistant at Blue Cross/Blue Shield and as a health educator for Jefferson County Health Department. She has also volunteered at the Hospice of Louisville as a bereavement counselor for five years. Joy has a daughter in college.

Patricia Rojas – M.S.W. candidate, University of Houston Patricia, a native of Mexico, received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Texas. She is a part-time immigration caseworker in the district office of Congressman Kenneth Bentsen, Jr. (D-TX). She is also a graduate intern at Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence Abuse, facilitating therapy groups for men who are violent, abusive, or controlling. Patricia has worked as a project coordinator for I Have A Dream-Houston, as a case manager/ mediator for the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center, and as a VISTA Volunteer.



Plans for the Fifth Biennial Conference on Women in Uniform are firming up. The two-day conference will be held at the Women in Military Service to America (WIMSA) Memorial in Arlington, VA on 30 November–01 December 2000. Vicki McCall, 2000 Chair of DACOWITS, and Carolyn Becraft, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, will be the luncheon speakers on 30 November and 01 December respectively. Presenters will include active duty and retired military members, women firefighters, law enforcement professionals, and academics. There will also be presenters from Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. One of the conference highlights will be a panel featuring representatives from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.



The National Women's Law Center has published a new educational pamphlet designed to help women and girls understand and enforce their rights. Putting the Law on Your Side: A Guide for Women and Girls to Equal Opportunity in Career Education and Job Training provides an overview of the laws that prohibit sex discrimination in education programs and explains how to exercise those rights in an easy to understand format. For more information, please contact Kathleen Keller at 202.588.5180.



WREI welcomes Rachel Mears, the newest addition to its staff. Rachel has a master's degree in American studies with a concentration in folklife. Before joining WREI, Rachel worked for the Library of Congress in its Local Legacies collection. While at this post, she logged and analyzed more than 1,000 items for permanent housing in the American Folklife Center. Additionally, Rachel has worked for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage assisting and directing various aspects of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Her most recent and, by far, largest contribution to the festival was to organize the transfer of a 17-foot covered bridge (as in Robert James Waller's novel The Bridges of Madison County) from New Hampshire to Washington, DC. The convoy moved through eight states and the sovereign nation of Canada before completing its tour and returning to New Hampshire.



Cheryl R. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Class of 1990–1991
Select House Committee on Hunger
After earning her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of South Florida, Cheryl was offered a position in that university's African studies department, teaching both women’s studies and anthropology classes. She is now a tenured associate professor; her research focuses on women and activism. Cheryl is also involved in the history of her community, studying the impact of federal housing renovation policies on public housing residents. She has traveled extensively in Africa, South America, and the U.S. In fact, she has just returned from addressing an international conference in Havana. Cheryl is currently president of the Association of Black Anthropologists.

In addition to serving on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Cheryl finds time for gardening, walking, photography, and reading (recommended books: White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri). She has four daughters, all of whom are grown. One is an actress in New York City, another is attending Rutgers University Law School, and the twins are working in Tampa. Did her experience on Capitol Hill make a significant difference in the direction of her life? “Yes! What an enriching experience! I was assigned to the House Select Committee on Hunger and did quite a bit of research on microenterprise development during my WREI Fellowship year. I wrote my dissertation on the policy development process of the Select Committee on Hunger as the staff formulated a bill that had a major domestic microenterprise component. I’m still interested in these projects as economic development strategies for low-income women.”