Meet Caitlin, the newest intern at the Women’s Center

Hey everybody! My name is Caitlin Easter, and I am the newest addition to the UMKC Women’s Center staff!

I was born and raised in a small town called Warsaw here in Missouri. If you have heard of it, or it sounds familiar, it’s probably due to it being right on Truman Lake and The Lake of the Ozarks.  I am currently a first-year freshman here at UMKC, but I did manage to get some of the dual credit hours I earned in high school to transfer so I am a little farther ahead. (Yay!)

I have always felt a strong need to help people, and I never knew how I wanted to do that until I got to UMKC. I wasn’t sure how my need to help people was going to transfer into a career, and so I took a super stereotypical route to become a doctor. I decided I wanted to become an ER Trauma Doctor, and I chose to come to UMKC for our fantastic Biology program. Before even starting the first day of the semester, I changed out of all of my classes because I knew Biology just personally wasn’t the best way for me to help people for the rest of my life. Plus, I honestly didn’t think I could bear to learn about cells all over again one more time! After some exploration, I found that maybe the functions of the body that I wanted to learn about were more mind-based. I am currently majoring in Psychology, and have loose plans to develop a career in Psychiatry moving forward.

What specifically interested me about the Women’s Center was their goal to reach equity amongst the genders. I have always been interested in the way gender and sex play into how we are treated, and being a girl, I always felt disparities due to my gender. When I signed up for the Women’s Center’s emails at the beginning of the semester, I wasn’t ready for how much the idea of it would draw me in! The emails I showed me the relentless and constant energy that these people were putting into educating and advocating to make sure I was given a chance to succeed despite what gender norms used to constitute. Once my seasonal job in my hometown ended, I didn’t have any more excuses to not try to become a part of the team! I am looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable about some of the issues facing women, and working with these incredible people to hopefully continue to lay the groundwork for a better place for women in this world. I am looking forward to helping in any way I can, and I am really just excited to get started!

A New Addition

By Christina Terrell

Hi! My name is Christina Terrell, and I am very excited to begin my work experience here at the UMKC Women’s Center.

I am a first-year student here at the university, and I am a pre-nursing major in the hopes to persue a BSN degree from UMKC’s school of nursing. My major happens to be one of the main reasons I chose UMKC. The university has an amazing nursing program. Along with the fact that Kansas City is much like my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri, which is a pretty big, diverse city, I felt as though UMKC and Kansas City could offer me some home comfort along with many new opportunities and get me away from the same scenery of 18 years!

To continue, the Women’s Center here at UMKC was something that captured my attention very quickly. I had seen many flyers around campus, and one day visited the Women’s Center and instantly fell in love. The idea of trying something new and purposeful intrigued me. There are many things I look forward to doing and participating in during my time at the Women’s Center, such as advocating and trying to further educate some of my friends about our mission!

Event Preview: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

By Nina Cherry

Join us this Wednesday, November 7 for a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This dystopian novel is set in the future in an oppressive, authoritarian state in New England. With the birth rate plummeting due to environmental conditions, fertile women are forced to bear children. These women are at the bottom of the social class structure and are only valued by society for their fertility. The story focuses around one of these women – Offred, who was uprooted from her family and assigned to be a “handmaid” for “the Commander.”

Atwood’s evocative novel, which she began writing in 1984, is her own frightening forecast of the future. The book explores several relevant women’s rights issues that we look forward to discussing.

Lunch will be provided!

Gilead is a tyranny of nostalgia, a rape culture that denounces the previous society — ours — for degrading women with pornography. It controls women by elevating them, fetishizing motherhood, praising femininity, but defining it in terms of service to men and children.”  The New York Times

What: Book Discussion: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

Join us for lunch and a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Who: Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and UMKC University Libraries

When: Wednesday, November 7, 12-1 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Library Room 325, 800 E. 51st Street, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

Please RSVP by November 5th. For more information or to RSVP, call the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Event Preview: Crafty Feminist Friday & The Clothesline Project

By Ann Varner

This Friday, November 2, we will once again have a Crafty Feminist Friday from 12-1 p.m. in the UMKC Women’s Center. This time, we will be decorating t-shirts for an event that Violence Prevention and Response is hosting, the Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is an annual project that brings awareness to the issue of gender-based violence. People around the world decorate blank t-shirts with their feelings about gender-based violence. According to The Clothesline Project’s website, “The Clothesline Project began in October 1990 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  There were 31 shirts displayed on the village green as part of an annual Take Back the Night March and Rally. Throughout the day, women came forward to create new shirts and the line kept growing.”

Today, the clothesline project has grown to include nearly 500 projects worldwide. The purpose is to bear witness to survivors as well as victims. Using the clothesline, we air society’s “dirty laundry” in a form that was once “women’s work.” It is not only to help others learn about the statistics, but also to educate people on the magnitude of impact these experiences have on everyone’s lives. The Clothesline Project works to reverse and transform harmful effects of this violence on a global scale. By proclaiming the joy of healing and the agony of pain, we cut through some of the alienating aspects of this culture.

The t-shirts will be displayed during 16 Days of Activism, which is an international campaign against gender-based violence. It runs from November 25th (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day). This campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

I encourage you, regardless if you are a survivor or not, to come and participate in creating the t-shirts. If you are not a survivor, you probably know someone who is, whether you are aware of it or not. I hope to see you there!

What: Crafty Feminist Friday (for The Clothesline Project)

Who: Sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center, in support of The Clothesline Project

When: Friday, November 2, 12-1 p.m.

Where: UMKC Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall

Newest Women’s Center intern ready to shine

By Jayesha Griffin

Hello! My name is Jayesha Griffin and I am a sophomore here at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

I am currently a Health Sciences major, but I’m interested in changing that to chemistry and continuing with the pre-pharmacy track. I have always had a passion to work in the medical field. Coming into my freshman year undecided, I chose nursing as my very first major path at this university. Realizing nursing was not fit for me, and that I wanted to do more hands-on research, I looked into pharmacy and I plan to stick through with this for the rest of my career path and become either a research pharmacist or a radio pharmacist.

Out of many of the college acceptances I received, I decided to come here to UMKC. Only being about 4 hours away from home, I felt this school was far enough away for an undergraduate. For graduate school, I plan to go further.

Besides that, here at UMKC the Women’s Center is a fantastic place to feel welcomed. My interest in the Women’s Center started when I had my first Women’s and Genders Studies class with Dr. Bethman. The topics discussed really stuck out to me and I wanted to invest myself further but avoid picking up a minor. The Women’s Center is a very accepting place!

C.J. Janovy: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: John Janovy, Jr.

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on C.J. Janovy.

“It’s an especially tense time for women in our country right now, and art is one way people can immerse themselves in difficult ideas and find empathy for their fellow human beings. I’m excited to hear all of our panelists talk about how they do that. I imagine we’ll all leave the conversation with some skills we can use in our daily lives.”

C.J. Janovy joins the panel discussion as our moderator, and we are excited to have her!  A “Midwesterner by birth and ultimately by choice,” as she puts it, Janovy has been active in the Kansas City journalism scene for quite a while now.  She began as an alt-weekly journalist, which included a decade-long stint as editor of The Pitch, Kansas City’s Village Voice Media-owned publication.  Since August of 2014, she has worked for KCUR 89.3, which is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate.  Although she began by reporting on arts and culture (“which is the coolest beat in the business,” she quips on her website), she currently acts as their digital content editor, where she edits news and features for their website.

Gleaning from her years in Kansas City journalism, including her own stories, columns, and blog posts about culture and politics in Kansas, Janovy authored the book No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas.  Published earlier this year by University Press of Kansas, the book is described as “the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states.”  In order to write the book, Janovy herself traveled across the state of Kansas, from the biggest cities to the smallest farm communities, to find local activists and document their stories, their struggles, and their triumphs.  

On a more personal note, despite having lived on both the West Coast (for an English degree from the University of California at Berkeley) and the East Coast (for a master’s in creative writing from Boston University) for some time, Janovy has decided to settle in a “Place Like Home where she writes her blog.  In July of 2015, she married her longtime partner just as soon as marriage equality was legal in every state.  We look forward to watching her “in action” as our moderator on October 24, and we hope to see you there as well!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Diane Petrella: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: James Allison

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Diane Petrella.

Without a doubt, one of the things UMKC is known for is its internationally recognized Conservatory of Music and Dance.  Enrolling about 600 students, the Conservatory enables those students to “interact with an exceptionally gifted faculty and with leading visiting artists in ways that are supportive, yet rigorous.”  Among this faculty is none other than our next featured panelist and recently named Dean of the Conservatory, Diane Petrella.

Diane Petrella’s appointment as Dean this past summer came at the request of Conservatory faculty and staff.  An honor, to be sure, this appointment is particularly unique in that it “marks the first time in the Conservatory’s 112-year history that a woman has held this post.”  Diane actually wears quite a few hats for the Conservatory on top of being appointed Dean.  Having been with the Conservatory since 2006, she is also currently Chair of the Keyboard Studies Division and Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy.  She teaches applied piano and piano pedagogy courses for the Conservatory and also coordinates the group piano program. With so many accomplishments under her many hats, it should come as no surprise that the Conservatory awarded her the Kauffman Award for Outstanding Service in the spring of 2015.

In addition to her work with the Conservatory, Diane has had many unique experiences in her life as a musician and music educator.  For example, she has collaborated with her husband and fellow Conservatory educator, Nick Patrella, on many projects. Together, they formed the Petrella Ensemble in 2002, a touring performance group that has traveled throughout the United States as well as Mexico, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic in an effort to perform and commission new music.  In 2006, they worked together to publish The Musicians Toolbox, Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Music, which was contracted for distribution by Alfred Publications in 2012.  Diane and Nick also collaborated on the article “I’ve Got Rhythm, I’ve Got Phrasing,” which was published in the August/September 2012 issue of American Music Teacher.  

According to her bio page on the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance’s website, Diane “has appeared as a soloist with several regional orchestras and is active as a soloist, collaborative pianist, speaker and adjudicator throughout the United States, including her recent appointment to the College of Examiners of the Royal Conservatory, Toronto, Canada.”  In addition to her roles as musician and educator, Diane is also a mother of five children, including 9-year-old triplets.  “I think managing a hectic home life has certainly honed my leadership and organizational skills,” she quips. We would agree, Diane!  We look forward to hearing more from you as well as our other panelists on October 24!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Cynthia Levin: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: Manon Halliburton

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Cynthia Levin.

Without a doubt, the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City offers one of the most unique theatre-going experiences in the city. According to their mission statement, the Unicorn strives to enhance the Kansas City community “by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never been seen in the region.”  With an emphasis on illuminating social issues and providing inclusive stories which include race, religion, and gender identity, the Unicorn Theatre stands as one of the most preeminent theatres in the city.  Serving as the Producing Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre is our next panelist to be featured – Cynthia Levin.

Quite the fixture at the Unicorn, Levin has been with the theatre for 39 of its 44 years in existence.  During that time, she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions. Reading through a personal letter shared by her on the theatre’s website, Levin’s passion for the Unicorn and the unique plays it showcases is apparent.  “The idea of doing or seeing something you have never experienced before is exhilarating,” she says, “and we want to share that with you.”  With this mission in mind, it is interesting to note that 65 of the Unicorn’s 324 productions have been world premieres.

Levin’s work in the theatre world has extended beyond the Unicorn Theatre on more than one occasion.  She has directed plays such as Number the Stars and To Kill a Mockingbird for Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre, a local children’s theatre that seeks to open the lines of communication between races, sexes, and generations.  She has also directed readings at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. In addition to her theatre work, Levin is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, which is an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works.  She has also been honored with numerous awards, including the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, and most recently the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award from the Actor’s Equity Association for her ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity. We look forward to hearing more about Cynthia Levin’s experiences soon as she joins our panel to discuss her role as a woman who leads in the arts!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Nicole Emanuel: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: Cameron Gee

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Nicole Emanuel.

If there’s one artist on the panel whose personal and family history plays like something out of a Hollywood movie, it would be Nicole Emanuel.  I don’t think I can do it justice in just one blog article, so I definitely invite you to check out her “About Me” page on her artist’s website.  As a little preview of her family history, there’s mention of a patricide trial in late 1920s Austria, an escape from Nazis in the 1940s, and a pair of great-uncles who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Isaac Stern, just to name a few.  Beyond that, you’re going to have to check out the site on your own!

What is clear beyond Emanuel’s historical roots in art, however, is how she uses those roots as well as her own experiences in life to inspire her own art, no matter what form it may take.  The 2008 murder of her nephew lead her to create a series of tri-state events known as “Sorry for the Miscommunication: Museum of the Streets,” which included street artists and gallery artists from Chicago, Kansas City and Madison cooperating in a collaborative mural, performances and exhibitions.  Another murder, this time of her great-grandfather, was the impetus for Emanuel to pursue her Masters Degree at UMKC with the goal of writing about her family. Her forthcoming book, titled “Memoraphilia: a granddaughter’s memoir, the life of Jewish artist and storyteller Liouba Golschmann,” centers on her grandmother and weaves through many of the seemingly impossible events in her family’s history.  Emanuel’s ability to use the painful stories of her own life and her family’s history to create art is a poignant reminder of the power of art.

Emanuel’s “current obsession”, as she calls it, is the InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) here in Kansas City.  Established in 2011, this Non-Profit organization is dedicated to purchasing and renovating an under-utilized industrial building into affordable, stable art studios, community exhibition/event space and sculpture garden with some of the area’s preeminent artists and craftspeople.  The mission of IUAH, as stated on their website, is “to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment.”

On a more personal note, Nicole Emanuel is a 1996 graduate of the local Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), where she received her BFA in Painting and graduated as that year’s KCAI Valedictorian.  She has created 20 large-scale murals and 2 large-scale public sculptures since then. While her paintings and drawings are in numerous corporate and private collections in New York, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri, Emanuel considers her greatest creative works-of-art to be her own sons.  We are delighted to have Nicole Emanuel join us for this panel and look forward to having her share even more of her unique experiences as a woman who continues to lead in the arts!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Ramona Davis: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Ramona Davis.

“I believe art is hope. This belief is an affirmation for me, because it’s a reminder that no one can own the essence of creativity nor can it be neatly confined to a single interpretation. Art is pure; it’s whatever one needs or wants it to be.” – Ramona E. Davis

For our next panelist, Ramona E. Davis, art has been a lifelong passion.  Since her youth, Davis has loved and studied art. She currently identifies as an avid art collector and an arts advocate in the Kansas City area.  Her professional work experience in the area of sales, marketing, and project management for both private and public sectors has enabled her to work in many diverse arenas, including Gallery Manager at The Central Park Gallery, Constituent Relations Marketing Manager at MidAmerica Arts Alliance, and charter board member of the Kansas City Museum Foundation.  Perhaps because of this unique experience, Davis was uniquely poised to found the KC Black Arts Network.

The KC Black Arts Network exists as an “advocate of local artists of color,” and it supports the local black artist community through services such as its online artist directory of local artists and promotion of artists’ work through social media and advocacy.  According to Davis, the goal with the network is “to cultivate and support experiences between local artists of color and local art enthusiasts.” The Network has also provided a platform for hosting artists talks as well as curating many exhibitions, including Reflecting The Times: Artworks by Harold Smith, Stefan Jones and Jason Piggie at The Box Gallery, September 2016, Colour Portraits: Unconventional Admiration at ArtsKC, February 2017 and Depictions: People, Places and Things for the Black Archives of Kanas City, February 2018.

On a more personal note, Ramona Davis currently lives in a historic home in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, IT Architect and musician Eugene Davis.  Her interests and activities include photography, acrylic painting, and color theory. Davis is a member of the African American Artist Collective, located in Kansas City, as well as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which has an undergraduate chapter here at UMKC.  Most recently, Davis been selected to join the Friends of Art Council at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. We are honored to have her as a part of our Women Who Lead in the Arts panel, and look forward to hearing her share her experiences as a leader in the arts!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.