Title: Independent Consultant, Addressing Sexual Violence in Higher Education

Position for which you are applying: Standing Committee for Women, Chair

In the space below, please describe your involvement with ACPA, including any leadership positions you have held

  • Presidential Task Force on Sexual Violence in Higher Education, May 2014 to present
  • Standing Committee for Women (SCW) Directorate 2013 to present
  • Member of multiple standing committees and commissions throughout my membership in the Association:
    • Commission for Social Justice Educators
    • Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals
    • Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Awareness
    • Standing Committee for Multicultural Affairs
    • Standing Committee for Women
    • Standing Committee on Disability
    • Standing Committee on Men and Masculinities
  • Conference presentations throughout my membership in the Association
  • General member of ACPA since 1996

Please describe how you will work to advance ACPA’s Core Values if elected/appointed to this position.

When I first read this question, I took it quite literally. How would I (as a singular person) work to advance ACPA’s Core Values? I considered what efforts I might initiate in support of such critical cornerstones. But in reality, that is not how the Standing Committee for Women (SCW) works. The SCW does not function within a hierarchical framework.  We are an entity that reflects the thoughts and efforts of the group, and so that is where I would begin. I would ask the directorate, and I would ask the membership of the SCW:

  1. What role does the SCW currently play in the advancement of the ACPA Core Values?
  2.  Where are we missing the mark? What areas need improvement?
  3. Speaking to each core value separately, how can we best serve women-identified faculty, staff, and students in the context of the mission and values of the SCW?

In terms of diversity, multicultural competence and human dignity (an ACPA Core Value), I suspect that SCW membership would say that current efforts demonstrate a commitment to this, yet there are clear ways in which we need to improve.  They would likely tell me that our work in this area is closely linked to the education and development of the total student (an ACPA Core Value), and that doing right by our professional members means that they can better serve students. I might hear from members that they love our blog, webinars, and social media outreach (free and open exchange of ideas is an ACPA Core Value), but that there are topic areas we are neglecting.

I have a collaborative leadership style, and a commitment to finding solutions by bringing critical voices together from across the association. Programs, blog, webinars, partnerships, research, and resource dissemination can serve as possible engagement opportunities. All of these endeavors, with thoughtful consideration of the SCW membership’s perspectives, can be a part of the effort to advance the core values of the association through the core values of the SCW.

After reviewing the qualifications of the position for which you are applying, please describe briefly below how you believe you meet each qualification.

I have a long history of leading successful efforts to address issues that affect women-identified people in higher education. Women-identified faculty, staff, and students have a wide range of needs that reflect a complex web of intersecting identities. If elected to serve as Chair of the SCW, my central goal would be the inclusion and support of all women-identified faculty, staff, and students by way of professional development, education, empowerment, advocacy, and support. Collaborative efforts guide my practice, and can serve to intentionally bring in historically underrepresented and silenced voices. In terms of collaborative efforts, I value relationship building, which can lead to critical insight I may not have come to on my own.

I have worked in the field of student affairs for more than 17 years. I have a strong history of using a social justice lens in my work, which includes residence life, student activities, service learning, living/learning programs, sexual assault prevention and victim advocacy, multicultural affairs, LGBTQ+ student services, and women’s center administration. I earned a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Bowling Green State University, a M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park. My doctoral dissertation research, completed in 2012, is on the lived experience of sexual assault survival for women in college. I currently serve as an independent consultant addressing sexual assault on campus.

I offer a lifelong passion for working to address issues that affect women-identified people through research, practitioner, activist and speaking/consulting roles. The SCW has a longstanding tradition of listening to each other and our collective membership before taking action on important issues, and it is my commitment to continue this tradition. I have demonstrated experience challenging the status quo in a way that builds bridges and solidifies relationships.

I have a commitment to the association’s current and critical shift toward overt inclusion in language and deed. This is especially important as it pertains to women in all of our multiple and intersecting identities.  The words “woman” and “feminist” should be words of inclusion, not exclusion, and I am committed to our continued movement toward this end.

 I have a strong commitment to the engagement of all members of the SCW, including directorate alumnae, 365 days a year. Ally development within the association is also a priority of mine. I have an ongoing personal commitment to exploration of my own intersecting identities, and seek to understand the ways in which I show up in the world and affect the spaces I am in. 

As a leader, how will you contribute to the work of the Association?

I am committed to conversation on the subtle and not so subtle ways in which sexism shows up within the Association. This commitment includes awareness of the manner in which racism, homophobia, transphobia and other oppressions intersect with sexism and affect the women-identified members of ACPA. The entire higher education community is weakened by exclusion and oppression.

I currently contribute to the work of the association in two different roles. I am an SCW Directorate member, and I am on the ACPA Presidential Task Force on Sexual Violence in Higher Education. I take these roles very seriously in terms of support for women-identified faculty, staff, and students, and in helping to guide our profession toward a holistic approach to addressing rape culture on campus. Both of these roles have provided me greater insight and connection to an Association that had already become my professional community. I’ve had the great privilege of engaging in very candid conversations about hot button issues with top leadership in ACPA, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the level of honesty and the commitment to change I have experienced to date.

My intention here is to name issues transparently, but also with care. My colleagues will tell you that I can be counted on to share criticisms and celebrations, and I do both out of loyalty to the spaces in which I choose to dedicate my time. Whenever possible, I build relationships before challenging conversations arise. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to build relationships while engaged in challenging conversations. If I am elected to Chair the SCW, I will do my part to continue the SCW legacy of bringing a critical, feminist lens to the work we do as an association. I bring a strong desire and commitment to continuing partnerships within the association that will strengthen who we are as a whole. I hope to contribute to bettering the field through an inclusive vision of the SCW, and a mindful, intersectional approach to the work.

After reading the introductory statement about the ACPA Leader Selection Process, take a moment to reflect on your own experiences at the intersections of equity, inclusion and diversity. How will your experiences help you in our work to champion equity, inclusion and diversity within and outside the ACPA community?

Within the Association, an important dialogue has emerged about who is included (and who is excluded) by the word “women.” What is the intended use of this term? What are the unspoken definitions? There are critical pieces missing by way of the tacit uni-dimensionality of the word “woman.” Addressing the issue begins with naming it. There is a sense that the term, when not otherwise specified, describes “straight, white, cisgender, privileged women.” And even when it is overtly named, there is a sense that, perhaps, the issue is not going to be genuinely addressed. There are too many women-identified professionals in the field of higher education who feel excluded from “women’s” spaces and “feminist” spaces. It is my firm belief that these spaces should be the most welcoming of all. There is a critical need for the inclusion of all women-identified professionals across multiple and intersecting identities in programming, outreach, and conversations about women and feminism within the association.

I’ve seen, from the inside, the critical work with which the SCW is engaged on this front. There is a desire within the SCW Directorate and current leadership that we must take a close look at ourselves and identify our own exclusionary practices. We must identify the ways in which we subtly and not so subtly engage in exclusion.

ACPA is considered to be the association that best addresses social justice, inclusion, diversity, and equity, but there are clear areas in which we make mistakes and have room to grow. I appreciate that current ACPA leadership is willing and interested in taking a hard look at who we really are and where we need to go. There seems to be an end-game goal of becoming the premier higher education association with a distinct focus on social justice. I want to be part of that process. I am loyal to ACPA. It is my chosen professional community, and the Standing Committee for Women is where I’ve found my professional home.

If elected Chair of the SCW, I commit to continuing that loyalty through dialogue on the issues I’ve outlined above. It is out of a great commitment to this organization, its aspirations, and its potential that I find my motivation to work toward equity, inclusion, and diversity.