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Alumni of The Department of Women's Studies/WGSS have gone on to lead very successful careers in Ohio and beyond.

Here are a few featured alums:

Patricia Cunningham headshot

We are deeply saddened to share that Dr. Patty passed away on February 2, 2017. She was part of the first cohort of undergraduate students who helped create the department’s Peer Power group, which led discussions on gender, race, and sexuality in area high schools. In the College of Education, she taught courses on race, poverty, gender, civic engagement and leadership, and oversaw several community outreach programs. Dr. Patty dedicated her time, resources, and soul to serving underrepresented students both on and off-campus. She tirelessly worked to break down barriers for students to obtain a college education and pursue their endeavors beyond. She will be deeply missed by all in our community. Dr. Patricia F.R. Cunningham II was a three-time graduate of Ohio State University, having received her B.A. in Women's Studies (with a minor in Black Studies); a M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs; and, a doctoral degree in Cultural Foundations. She supervised a number of community outreach programs, including Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection that involves projects in different neighborhoods in Columbus that have a high poverty rate, and the BuckeyeREACH program that connects students to mentors in youth prison facilities. She also taught interdisciplinary courses on the subjects of poverty, race, gender, civic engagement and leadership. 

Donna Troka headshot

Donna Troka, Ph.D.(M.A., OSU 98), (Ph.D., Emory 07) is an Associate Director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. After completing her Masters in Women’s Studies at The Ohio State University, Donna went on to the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University to pursue a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies. She completed a dissertation entitled “Kings of the Midwest: An Oral History of Three Midwestern Drag King Troupes” which aims to re-center drag king discourse through a study of drag kings from Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  While writing her dissertation, Troka co-edited The Drag King Anthology with Kathleen LeBesco and Bobby Noble (Harrington Park Press, 2003).

Upon graduation from her doctoral program Donna first worked in Campus Life and then moved to her current position in the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence at Emory University. Along with her administrative work she continues to teach American Studies courses. In Fall 2012, she taught a course entitled “From Archives to iPads: Investigating the Discourse of Sexuality at Emory” that investigated how the discourse of sexuality was created by and represented in two of Emory’s publications (Emory Wheel and Emory Report). Using the archival materials captured in Emory’s Manuscript and Rare Books Library (MARBL), her students then developed a library exhibit entitled “Let’s Talk About Sex: Sexual Identity, Sexual Health, and Sexual Violence at Emory.”

In Fall 2013, Donna worked with the Center for Community Partnerships at Emory to develop the course “The Dividing Lines: Pit bulls, Identity, and Community.” This course asked how we might think differently about pit bulls and the communities from which they come if we inject the popular discourse with a critical consciousness about race, class, gender, and community development. Students not only engaged with scholarship in the classroom, they also developed community partnerships with Lifeline Animal Shelter, a local no-kill shelter and four schools in the Atlanta Public School system.

Though it has been fifteen years since she was a Women’s Studies student at The Ohio State University, Donna Troka suggests that most of the skills she utilizes today in her career were developed and nurtured during her time at OSU. “Not only did I meet some of the most intelligent and resourceful women during my time in the Women’s Studies department at OSU, I also learned the true impact of collaborative, transformative social justice work. Whether it is in the classroom, across campus, on out in the community, I know I wouldn’t be the scholar or the activist I am without the experiences I had as a Women’s Studies student at The Ohio State University. And for that, I am forever grateful.”

Cinnamon Rieheld, MA, MSW, LSW works at Amethyst here in Columbus. It's an intensive outpatient program with supportive housing for women with addiction issues and frequently mental illness and trauma histories. She will be an addictions counselor. She graduated (again) from OSU in May of 2013 with her Masters in Social Work. Her focus during this time was on women with dual diagnoses and trauma histories. She also started research that she hopes to complete while at Amethyst and would like to get it published. She received her MA in Women's Studies in 2002.

Mary-Patricia Livengood Wray

Mary-Patricia Livengood Wray graduated in '06 from Ohio State. After leaving Ohio State as the youngest ever graduate of the Department of Women’s Studies she went on to go to law school in New Orleans at the Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law. Her work on the 1st Amendment Implications of the Affordable Care Act was published in their Public Interest Law Journal in 2010.  She is now serving as Legislative and Political Director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the state’s largest teachers union.

"My time in the WGSS Dept. helped me to take in my legal studies with a critical eye and through a feminist lens. WGSS taught me a lot about who I am and how to stay centered in a world full of conflicting theory and praxis. It taught me about academic freedom, and personal integrity. Now, I spend everyday representing a profession overwhelmingly populated by women - a profession of rule followers who need to find their voice more than ever. I spend my day doing the revisionist history that is so very much needed in the deep south as I confront issues of school resegregation and destructed so-called “reform” policies that will set minority populations up for failure. It is truly my pleasure to put my skills to use everyday on our members’  behalf as I draft legislation, lobby, do member outreach and education and take on high profile litigation that often lands up in our state’s Supreme Court."

Sheila Thompson graduated in 1986 with a major in Women’s Studies and a minor in History.  After graduating in 1986, she became an instructor at Prep, Ohio, at the Columbus YWCA, where they provided pre-employment training for low-income women to enter nontraditional jobs (construction, manufacturing, law enforcement, skilled trades apprenticeships).  With the assistance of the Ohio Dept. of Education, Gender Equity Office, they took the curriculum and developed a statewide program at adult vocational schools and Ohio women’s prisons.  It eventually became a national model and earned the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Award for Exemplary Gender Equity Programs in 2000.  The instructors were all women who had experience in nontraditional fields and who had a passion for women’s issues. 
   She also ended up working at the Ohio Dept of Education, under the federal funding for gender equity in career-technical (vocational) programs, and became the advocate for increasing the numbers of students in nontraditional vocational programs (girls in construction, boys in cosmetology or childcare).  She was a teacher educator for their new vocational teachers on gender equity and nontraditional issues, and she wrote  curriculum content for equity in career development and helped establish the gender equity library at OSU’s Center for Training and Employment. 
   Currently, Sheila is officially ‘retired,’ but working part time for a career center in Licking County:  Career and Technology Education Centers (C-TEC) of Licking County in adult workforce development.  She has been there since 2003, and prior to that was working under a contract with the U.S. Dept of Education as the project manager for the Exemplary Career-Technical Education Programs initiative at OSU. 

Kendra Parks Lowery received her MA in Women's Studies in 2002.  She received her PhD from the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May, 2013. Her dissertation research focused on what the experiences of some of the earliest hired African American administrators in desegregated northern school districts can teach us about how race and gender influence individual and group problem-solving processes within organizations. An article she co-wrote on the significance of Black principals in reducing the disenfranchisement of Black students in urban schools appears in the Handbook of Urban Education (2014), edited by HR. Milner IV & Kofi Lomotey with whom she was co-author. She is now the Assistant Principal of Sennett Middle School in Madison, WI.

Barbara Schwabauer

Barbara Schwabauer is an alumna of the Women's Studies department's M.A. program (class of 2007).  After getting her M.A., she went to law school at Ohio State and is now a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.  In this capacity, she litigates cases against state and local government employers who discriminate against employees on the basis of their race, sex, religion, national origin, and color or who retaliate against employees for opposing such discrimination.  "I very much credit my time in the M.A. program with my committment to social justice as an attorney."

Jackie Walker

Jackie Walker is a 2010 graduate from Ohio State and was an international studies major along with a dual minor in women’s Studies and religious studies. She spent 3 years after graduation working at Birmingham-Southern College as their service-learning coordinator. Now she is pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies at Southern Methodist University with concentrations in Gender Studies and Human Rights & Social Justice, with the hopes to go on to pursue a PhD in gender studies. 

   “I feel like WGSS at OSU entirely changed the way I think about the world and allowed me to shape my post grad experience in a major way. I used the things I learned in the Birmingham-Southern College program constantly, since I was almost always having discussions about and working with the ideas of power, privilege and marginalization"
 " I also was able to embrace myself personally much more due to the program. I came out during my time at OSU as pansexual and the program helped me to accept my relationship and myself at the time. This personal experience, along with the courses, allowed me to see myself as an advocate for all people, everywhere, despite difference. It gave me a deeper understanding of meeting people where they are and not just tolerating difference, but celebrating it. Due to the desire to reach out to others, I am now participating on the Allies Panel as a staff member here at SMU and getting involved in the women's center here.” 

Jan Brittan joined the ad hoc committee to establish OSU's Women's Studies in 1972 and was a member of the original Office of Women's Studies staff in 1975. She helped team teach the first Intro to Women's Studies course and others between '75 and '81, and served on the Interim Governing Board. Jan also earned her M.A. and completed coursework towards the Ph.D while at OWS. She is currently a freelance editor/proofreader and works at a bookstore. She serves on the board of the Gay Ohio History Initiative.

Christina Capelletti, MSW, MA, is a community arts and social justice professional. She runs her own business, CappellettiDesigns Visual and Community Arts, providing graphic and web design and other visual arts for small businesses and non profits (www.cappellettidesigns.com). She is affiliated, as a businesswoman, with Dames BOND, a dynamic women's business network in Columbus, Ohio. She is a member of DMOFE, Columbus Women's Drum Chorus, a multicultural rhythms performance group of women drummers. Christina is a trained facilitator of Soul Collage TM, an artistic approach to self-discovery and applied thought. She completed her dual Women's Studies and Social Work master's degree programs in 1993 at The Ohio State University.

Terese Herhold is a policy analyst for the Ohio Senate Minority Caucus. Her current policy work covers environment and natural resources, energy and public utilities, highways and transportation as well as the state retirement systems. Prior to working as a policy analyst, she served as the legislative aide to State Senator Sue Morano. In 2006, she managed Morano's state senate race, successfully assisting Morano to become the first senate minority seat pick up in over a decade and the first female state senator for the 13th district. In 2005, Herhold received her M.A. in Women's Studies from The Ohio State University. During her time at the University, she worked as program assistant to NEW Leadership - a women's political leadership program, and as both a research and teaching assistant. In 2002, Herhold received her B.A. in Political Science from Marietta College. In her spare time, she plays for the Ohio Roller Girls, Ohio's first women's flat track roller derby league.

Nancy Smith is the founding Director of the Accessing Safety Initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice. In this capacity, she oversees and manages a national, federally funded initiative that encourages and assists communities to improve their criminal justice and social services for individuals with disabilities and deaf individuals who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. She previously directed an initiative at Vera to help New York City officials understand why families become homeless and what strategies can be developed to prevent this from occurring. Prior to coming to Vera, Nancy directed a collaborative research and planning initiative for the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati to prevent family violence across the life spectrum including child abuse, teen dating violence, intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and abuse of people with disabilities. Nancy has also worked with numerous communities across the country to conduct needs assessments and develop strategic plans to end homelessness. Her passion to end homelessness was sparked through her work with the Community Shelter Board in Columbus, OH. She also has a long-standing history of working for women's rights. Nancy has a B.A. and M.A. in Women's Studies from The Ohio State University.