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September 27, 2001

WREI’s American Woman Award Gala
WREI Fellows: Current and Future
Women in the Military Project
Former WREI Fellows—Where Are They Now?



We hope October 9th is circled on your calendar and that you’re looking forward to WREI’s annual dinner honoring Cathleen Black with the American Woman Award. Having decided that the show should go on despite the horrors of September 11th, WREI’s staff has been hard at work on the gala. We have planned an evening that will pay honor to the victims and heroes of that terrible day in addition to celebrating Cathie Black’s trail-blazing career.

The Best Friends Jazz Choir, a wonderful group of girls from high schools in the District, will sing in memory of one of their own who was killed aboard the flight from Dulles.

We’re really excited that CNN anchor Judy Woodruff will introduce our guest of honor.

WREI’s celebrated silent auction will be bigger and better than ever. To see the complete list of auction items, visit www.wrei.org/gala/auction.html. Among the prizes:

  • a week in Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • weekend getaways to Charleston and to Pawley’s Plantation, SC.
  • five spectacular three-piece suits from The Carlisle Collection
  • rafting trip for two on the Shenandoah
  • season subscriptions for two to Arena Stage
  • dinner at Café Milano, Jeffrey’s, I Richi and Chicken Out
  • Mikimoto pearl cufflinks
  • Club suites (luxury seating for 14) to the Mystics and the Capitals
  • Ann Hand American Eagle pin
  • $400 gift certificate to Calico Corner
  • case of Grey Goose vodka
  • Four tickets to the Delaware Antiques Show, including a lecture by
  • Leigh and Leslie Keno of Antiques Road Show



WREI is delighted to announce that we have raised funding for 10 Congressional Fellowships on Women & Public Policy in the coming year. Thanks are due to Pharmacia and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, our two newest sponsors, and to “repeaters” Johnson & Johnson, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., the Communications Workers of America, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, the 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Fund and Evy Dubrow, and Betta, Martha, and Emily Ehrenfeld.

The high quality and quantity of applicants made the selection process more difficult than ever. We are pleased to announce the 10 finalists for the Class of 2002:

Diane Beedle – Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
Diane is writing her dissertation on historical racism and sexism in federal education legislation and policy and hopes to receive her doctorate in curriculum design in May 2003. She holds a master’s degree in instructional leadership and is currently a research assistant for the Department of Medical Education at the University’s College of Medicine. Diane has also worked as a teaching assistant, a recycling coordinator, and a community organizer in Chicago as a VISTA volunteer.

Alicia Butler – M.P.P., Georgetown University Public Policy Institute
Alicia hails from Waco, Texas, and received her bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas-Austin. During and after college, she put theory into practice as an organizer and fundraiser for three state political campaigns. In 1998, she was named a Center for Politics and Commercial Diplomacy Fellow at the Ronald H. Brown Foundation. Alicia expects to receive her master’s degree in May 2002, where she has focused on education, social, and family issues. She currently works part time as a legislative correspondent for Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas.

Katie Delmore – Ph.D., University of Minnesota
A native of North Dakota, Katie has spent three summers working in the Fargo and Washington offices of Senator Byron Dorgan. She received her master’s in speech communications from North Dakota State University and plans to complete her doctorate in that field in 2003. Katie has volunteered in St. Paul as an English instructor and comes highly recommended by former WREI Fellow Sally Kenney, a professor at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. (Sally has sent WREI two other outstanding Fellows over the years.)

Suzan Harkness – Ph.D., University of Hawaii at Manoa
Originally from Wisconsin, where she earned bachelor’s degree in psychology, Suzan kept moving west; first, for a master’s in international relations at the United States International University in San Diego (including work in Kenya and Japan) and then on to more tropical climes for her doctorate in political science/public policy at the University of Hawaii. While completing her dissertation “Women and Work: Dynamics of the Glass Ceiling and Public Policy Perspectives,” Suzan worked as an adjunct professor. A marathoner, she currently has her hands and feet busy caring for an infant son and working as a professional speaker and consultant in Los Angeles.

Darlene Iskra – M.A., University of Maryland
A retired Navy captain, Darlene was the first women to become a Navy diver and the first to command a ship. Her 21-year career took her to assignments all over the globe, including humanitarian operations, such as cleaning up after Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Typhoon Fern in Micronesia. In addition to her master’s degree in military sociology, Darlene holds a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College. She earned her bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University.

Rachel Kraus – Ph.D., Purdue University
Graduating cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Rachel went on to earn a master’s in public administration at the University of South Carolina. She then moved into the sociology program at Purdue, earning a second master’s and focusing her doctoral dissertation on the perceived effectiveness of religious lobbies on welfare legislation. As a graduate instructor at Purdue, Rachel designed and teaches “Religion in America,” an upper-level undergraduate course. She volunteers at Caracole House in Cincinnati, which offers assistance to low-income AIDS victims.

Barbara Looney – M.S.W., St. Louis University
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University, Barbara worked as a paralegal, legal secretary, and web developer in Washington, DC before heading back home to Missouri for a master’s degree in social work, which she expects to receive WHEN?. While attending graduate school, Barbara has worked full-time as a community support worker, providing intensive case management for chronically mentally ill adults. This spring, Barbara interned as a legislative aide to state senator Pat Dougherty. She was then named an Everett Public Policy Intern at the Child Welfare League of America’s Public Policy Department, where she advocated on behalf of women and families.

Julie Okoniewski – M.S., Hunter College
Graduating cum laude from the New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in social work and community development, Julie immediately put her education to work as a volunteer and then full-time staffer at Grand Street Settlement. In addition to coordinating a summer day camp and running a girls’ and young women’s initiative, she also raised approximately $475,000 for this non-profit organization serving the Lower East Side. While pursuing her master’s, Julie also interns in the Brooklyn office of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

Faye Payne – Ph.D., Howard University
Faye, the first in her family to graduate from college, earned a business degree from Tennessee State University. As the single mother of two children, she worked as a legal assistant and insurance claims adjuster. Faye began work on her master’s in political science at Howard University when she sent her son off to college. Now a Dana Mattison Memorial Fellow at Howard, she will receive her doctorate in May 2003, with a concentration in American government. Through the Mattison fellowship, she has worked as a policy analyst for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in Washington.

Trenace Richardson – Ed.D., The George Washington University
A former high school English teacher with local and national educator awards to her credit, Trenace will receive her doctorate in May 2003. Her dissertation focuses on how spirituality affects the leadership development of prominent African American women. Trenace received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Elizabeth City State University in 1996 and went on to earn a master’s in divinity from Howard University in 1999.. Called to the music ministry at an early age, she now travels extensively to preach the gospel.

WREI recently received funding from the Ford Foundation to support this one-of-a-kind Center for Women in the Military for another year. During this time, we will be examining the various facets of this project as we seek new funding sources. Insight magazine featured a piece on gender-integrated basic training written by Lory Manning in the Symposium section of the August 20, 2001 edition.



We’re letting former WREI Fellow/former WREI Fellowship Director Shari Miles update you in her own words:

I was a WREI Fellow in the class of 1989-1990. I worked for Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, (D-CA), because he was right on all the issues and because he was the most handsome and regal member of Congress at the time. It was a real joy to come to work every day. My issues were health care, women’s issues, childcare, and the post office and civil service. While I wasn’t very happy about working on postal issues at the beginning, I did get to sit in on early meetings about the Decennial Census and what has developed into the racial classification debate. My graduate research focused on racial identity issues so it was very interesting for me to see the application of some of my research questions to “real world” policy and political debate.

After my fellowship was over I earned my master’s degree at Howard University, only to return to WREI as the fellowship director in 1992. Without question my most interesting WREI-related moment was a reunion of sorts between my fellowship director, Alison Dineen and me. Alison was kind (read naïve) enough to accompany me on my second trip overseas to interview and select international women to participate in WREI’s fellowship program. Together, we had experiences to last a lifetime, visiting Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and even an unscheduled stop in Latvia. She was an unfaltering traveling companion.

Since leaving WREI, I served as interim director of the African American Women’s Institute at Howard University. My biggest accomplishment there was to host the “Black Women in the Academy: Service and Leadership” conference which brought together African American women academics and activists from around the world to present their research and discuss current issues through a prism of race, sex, and class.

Currently, I’m serving in two capacities. One is the director of the Union Institute Center for Women. We develop projects that bring together activists and academics to improve the lives of women and girls. And we just completed a documentary video about women organizers. It’s called Women Organize! and it’s available from our distributor, Women Make Movies. Their website is www.wmm.com. Check it out!

My other current gig is serving as Scientist in the Public Interest for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. SPSSI is an international group of over 3500 socially progressive folks, mostly psychologists who share a common interest in research on the psychological aspects of important social issues. I’ve signed on to help SPSSI make links between research and social policy (e.g., homelessness, violence, adolescent pregnancy, child abuse, prejudice and discrimination) by bringing social science research findings to the attention of policymakers, the media, and the general public.

I’ve been married for five years to Miguel Sapp; he’s a senior trial attorney with the USEEOC. No children yet, but hope springs eternal.

You can reach me at smiles@tui.edu or smiles@spssi.org.