Ruth Margolin – Founding Director of the Women’s Center
Women’s Center – 1995 additions
105 Haag Hall – original UMKC cafeteria 1937
The UMKC Women’s Center is one of the oldest campus-based women’s centers in the country. It was originally founded as the Women’s Resource Center in 1971 with a grant of $2,500 from the University Associates. It was housed in the bottom floor of a house on Charlotte Street along with the Psychology Department. Kay Waldo (later Barnes) was hired as the first part-time coordinator.
The Women’s Resource Center was moved to the Division of Students Affairs in 1976 because so many female non-traditional students had returned to school. After a survey of women students’ needs entitled, “Creating Change for College Women,” was sponsored by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Gary Widmar, a task force was created by Jeannette Lee, a community volunteer, who recommended the need for a physical space and expanded staff and resources.
Ruth Margolin joined the center as director in 1983. Ruth went on to serve as Director for 15 years. Under her leadership, Women on the Move expanded, the Women’s Leadership Institute was founded, the first Start Symposium is held (named after Martha Jane Starr and funded by the Family Study Center Endowment) and the Women’s Collaborative was formed on campus.
In 1995 The Women’s Center moved to our current location in Haag Hall 105, which was previously used as the university cafeteria. Led by board member “Corky” Pfieffer, the UMKC Women’s Center was painted, furnished, and the board room and built-in bookcases to house the library were added.
Throughout the history of the Women’s Center, other programs and offices have emerged from inside it’s walls. The first LGBT office for the campus, the Violence and Prevention office, the Black Women Leaders Conference (Now the Women of Color Leadership Conference) all got their start right here in Haag Hall.
The mission of the Women’s Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is to advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women and gender equity on campus and within the community at large.
Our vision is an equitable and just campus where women feel safe, respected, and empowered; We hope that all students will take the gender equity values they learn about at UMKC and positively influence society at large.
In support of this mission, the Women’s Center:
- Facilitates student development through co-curricular experiences that affirm students’ identities and foster leadership opportunities;
- Assists the University in achieving its retention goals by offering programming and services that promote student success;
- Recognizes, celebrates, and promotes awareness of the intersectional realities of women’s lives, particularly across race, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, class, age, and abilities;
- Fosters awareness of the effects of gender roles;
- Offers support services, referrals, advocacy, and education around issues of gender violence;
- Promotes the effective and constructive feminist activism of UMKC students, staff, faculty and community members;
- Serves as a resource for the campus and Greater Kansas City communities on issues related to women and gender.
Natasha Ria El-Scari
Director of the Women’s Center
Natasha Ria El-Scari is a native of KC and proud First-Gen alumni of UMKC and Jackson State University! She is the author of five feminist books and four spoken word CDs. Although she joined the UMKC Women’s Center as Director in April 2023, this is not her first time as a Roo. She worked as the Project Director of the UMKC Upward Bound Program from 2000-2012. Her passion is information, access to resources, equity and expression!
Natasha is a writer, Cave Canem fellow, and educator for over a decade. Her poetry, academic papers, and personal essays have been published in anthologies, literary and online journals. She has opened for and introduced many great writers, singers and activists, and has been featured at a host of universities and venues nationwide. Natasha’s Black Feminist approach is reflected in her writing, poetry and performance pieces. Natasha brings the fire! She is a mother of two awesome children. Once asked in an interview what makes her unique she replied, “…most people lie to themselves, but I like to reveal myself.”
In addition to her professional pursuits Natasha owns an art gallery, an arts organization, is a certified life coach and spiritualist.
Natasha wants everyone to see a reflection of themselves with the programming and collaborations of the Women’s Center!
Sr. Program Coordinator
Chelsie joined the UMKC Women’s Center in November 2022. A Kansas City native, she is passionate about serving this community and has spent her career advocating for reproductive justice and gender equity.
She holds a dual B.A. in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies/Spanish Language from Augsburg University where she focused much of her time on the role of art and gender in global social movements as well as youth arts programing in the Minneapolis metro.
Before joining the Women’s Center staff, she worked as a CAPPA certified full-spectrum doula and childbirth/new parent educator. She has enjoyed serving on boards and volunteering with organizations including United Nation Association of Greater Kansas City – Women’s Committee, Nurture KC, Sheffield Place, Doulas of Greater Kansas City, and her own neighborhood association.
As Program Coordinator, Chelsie leads the Women’s Center student staff, fostering a safe and inclusive space for UMKC students to come on campus for resources and relaxation. She also creates and manages activities and events across campus and in the Kansas City community that promote gender equity and encourage positive student activism.
Outside of work, she loves baking, embroidery, exploring new restaurants, and movie nights with her family.
We have several graduate assistants, work study students, interns, and volunteers that help us in the Women’s Center.