10th Anniversary Speakers

Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning and veteran journalist whose attention to urban affairs, political events, and international women’s and children’s rights issues have earned her impressive honors within journalism and recognition by national and international organizations.  A pioneer in the world of broadcast media, she was the first Latina correspondent for both National Public Radio (NPR) and for Cable Network News (CNN).   Currently the senior correspondent for the PBS weekly news program NOW, she anchors and is managing editor of Latino USA, a weekly national news and culture program on NPR, and she also anchors the Boston WGBH show One on One with Maria Hinojosa.  Her documentary, Child Brides: Stolen Lives, produced for NOW on PBS sheds light on the traditions and ongoing practice of child marriage.  The film, which focuses on Guatemala, India, and Niger exposes the sobering cultural realities and global implications of child marriage.  Her 2008 documentary, Women, Power, and Politics: A Rising Tide has been hailed for its timely and insightful focus on women in the public sphere and the broad range of challenges and opportunities for girls coming of age in a 21st century world.

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Ms. Hinojosa lived in Brookline, Massachusetts before her family settled in Chicago, Illinois.  She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College where she majored in Latin American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Political Economics.  Since the mid-1980s, she has been immersed in radio and television journalism.  She has been a field producer and producer, researcher, host, correspondent, and general assignment correspondent and during the course of her career has worked with CNN, CBS, NPR, PBS, WNYC Radio.  At Barnard, where Hinojosa  anchored a show that featured political Latin music, she was convinced that her role on the air helped to give voice to many.  In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, she mused that as an undergraduate broadcaster, she thought to herself,  "Maybe what I am doing is really important. Maybe what I am doing is giving these people who are voiceless a voice."  During the course of her career, Ms. Hinojosa has borne witness to the plight, work, and efforts of those who are striving to protect the rights of others and promote justice, equality, and security for many, often the marginalized and defenseless of society.

A published writer, Ms. Hinojosa is the author of Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa, a 1995 work linked to her NPR reports on gangs that earned her Top Story of the Year Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  In 1999, she published an acclaimed memoir, Raising Raul: An Adventure Raising Myself and My Son, in which she reflected on her only life as a Mexican-American woman, professional, wife and mother raising a child in New York City and modern America.

The impressive honors and tributes to Maria Hinojosa confirm the power, substance, and scope of her work.  Child Brides: Stolen Lives, her most recent documentary has been awarded the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV Documentary from the Overseas Press Club.  The National Council of La Raza bestowed upon her the Ruben Salazar Award, a prize that recognizes a journalist's outstanding body of work.  She earned an Emmy citation for her coverage of September 11 and has won a Robert F. Kennedy Award in Radio for her reporting on the disadvantaged.  Working Mother magazine named her one of the "25 Most Influential Working Mothers in America" and in the last ten years, she has been cited three times by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States.  Hinojosa received a lifetime achievement award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a veteran and prize-winning journalist.  She was part of the heroic cohort of students who integrated universities in the American South during the Civil Rights era.  The first African-American woman to enter the University of Georgia, she graduated in 1962 with a degree in journalism.

At the New York Times, Ms. Hunter-Gault was the first African American reporter on staff and she held the position of Harlem Bureau Chief.  During her tenure at the New York Times, Ms. Gault won numerous awards, including the National Urban Coalition Award for Distinguished Urban Reporting and The New York Times' Publisher's Award.  She served as Johannesburg Bureau Chief and Correspondent for CNN, and spent two decades at PBS where she was National Correspondent for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and also was anchor of Rights and Wrongs, the award-winning human rights-focused news magazine. From 1997 to 1999, she was based in Johannesburg as chief correspondent in Africa for NPR.

Ms. Hunter-Gault has written for numerous publications, including Essence, Ms., The New York Times Magazine, Saturday Review, The New York Times Book Review, Essence, Life, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Vogue.  Her honors include two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, the 1986 Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the 1990 Sidney Hillman Award; the Good Housekeeping Broadcast Personality of the Year Award; the American Women in Radio and Television Award; and two awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for excellence in local programming.  Her books include New News Out of Africa: What Africa Means to Me and In My Place, a memoir of her role in the civil rights movement as the first African American woman admitted to the University of Georgia.

Carolyn Jessop

Carolyn Jessop, is a courageous and eloquent advocate for women and girls and former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Ms. Jessop escaped from a polygamous marriage with her eight children and became the first woman ever to be awarded full custody of her children in a suit against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Born into polygamy and into a fundamental Mormon community, she is the sixth generation descendant of a polygamous family.  In 1986, at age eighteen, she became the fourth wife of Merrill Jessop. During her seventeen-year marriage, she bore eight children until increasingly life-threatening pregnancies forced her to have an emergency hysterectomy and brought an unsettling end to one of the most complicated aspects of her unequal and disempowering marriage.

Ms. Jessop became determined to leave the family in which she witnessed child abuse, and herself endured physical and emotional abuse from more senior wives and her husband. She was especially insistent that she would not leave without all eight of her children.  Her escape pitted her against her sister wives, as well as against the God Squad, the armed militia squad that the sect's leading prophet Warren Jeffs, established to maintain his power and complete order within sect communities. Carolyn faced overwhelming threats, including the possibility that a failed escape would lead to her own exile into a FLDS mental institution and the permanent loss of access to her children. She persisted, though, ultimately undaunted by the outside world, one that her FLDS community insisted was inhabited by "agents of the devil" who "wanted to destroy the work of God." Warren Jeffs, whose father Rulon Jeffs had an estimated seventy-five wives and sixty-five children at the time of his death, was indicted in 2005 for arranging marriages of underage girls.  Warren Jeffs succeeded his father as head of the largest polygamous group in North America and became the prophet of the FLDS.  The combined twenty-year leadership of father and son resulted in the increasing dissolution of councils that ruled the sect and more power for the Jeffs. Arrested in 2006 after spending some fifteen months as a fugitive from justice and being listed on the FBI's Most Wanted List, Warren Jeffs has been sentenced to consecutive terms of five years to life for being an accomplice to rape of a fourteen-year old girl whom he married to her older cousin.

Carolyn Jessop, who was a second-grade teacher in the FLDS community, staged an unforgettable escape from her FLDS community and since establishing herself beyond the FLDS family in which she spent almost two decades, she has faced harrowing choices and threats to herself and her children.  She is outspoken and direct about the need for state protection and resources for women, girls and families who leave or seek to leave the polygamous sects where there is no freedom or choice for wives and daughters. "[I] if the government is not going to prosecute polygamy," she asserts, "then at least they should make sure that women do have free choice."

Escape, the memoir that Ms. Jessop published in 2007, documents her life within and beyond the Jessop family and the FLDS community.  Her story, which has been described as "devastating and tragic," led author Jon Krakauer to grapple with the "astonishing look behind the tightly drawn curtains of the FLDS Church, one of the most secretive religious groups in the United States." According to Krakauer, "[t]he story Carolyn Jessop tells is so weird and shocking that one hesitates to believe a sect like this, with 10,000 polygamous followers, could really exist in 21st-century America. But Jessop’s courageous, heart-wrenching account is absolutely factual. This riveting book reminds us that truth can indeed be much, much stranger than fiction."

Mary Kelley ’65

Mary Kelley ’65 is the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  Before coming to Michigan in 2002, she taught at Dartmouth College for two decades.  In addition to teaching awards at Dartmouth, she was named New Hampshire Teacher of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1995.

A former member of the Board of Trustees at Mount Holyoke College, Dr. Kelley has also served as a trustee for the American Antiquarian Society.   She  served as president of the American Studies Association from 1999 to 2000 and the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic from 2006 to 2007.  She also chaired the Council of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture from 2004 to 2007.  Kelley has held the Times-Mirror Chair at the Huntington Library and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation.  She has served on the Editorial Boards of the American Quarterly, the Journal of American History, the Journal of the Early Republic, the William and Mary Quarterly, and the New England Quarterly.

Mary Kelley is the author, co-author, and editor of seven books.  Most recently, she published Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life, a book that takes as its subject educational venues, which ranged from classroom instruction to literary societies to reading circles, through which women schooled themselves for leadership in antebellum America's public life. She is the co-author of The Limits of Sisterhood, the Beecher Sister on Women’s Rights and Woman’s Sphere. The editor of the Viking Portable Margaret Fuller, she has also edited The Power of Her Sympathy: The Autobiography and Journal of Catharine Maria Sedgwick.  She is currently at work on “What Are You Reading, What Are You Saying?” a book that recovers and explores the intersection between  the practices of reading and writing in early America.

Nita M. Lowey ’59

Nita M. Lowey ’59 is currently serving her tenth term in Congress, representing parts of Westchester and Rockland Counties. She was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988 and served in the Democratic Leadership in 2001 and 2002 as the first woman and the first New Yorker to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lowey has been described as “courageous” by The New York Times, “terrific” by Newsday, and one of “New York's key Members of Congress” by the New York Daily News. The Journal News called Lowey “one of the most influential Members of Congress.”  A member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where she serves as Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and the House Homeland Security Committee, Lowey is an extremely effective, committed legislator with a substantial record. Congressional Quarterly called her one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress, saying she “maneuvers skillfully through the appropriations process,” and Newsday said she “delivers for New York.”

Few members of Congress have taken key leadership roles on so many vital public policy issues. Lowey is a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, health care quality and biomedical research, improved homeland security preparedness, stricter public safety laws, environmental protection, women's issues, a leading international role for the United States, and national security. An outspoken supporter of transportation, nuclear, and infrastructure security, Lowey was recognized by the New York Post as “a key general in the battle to rebuild New York” for her leadership in securing over $20 billion for recovery efforts after September 11, 2001. Her efforts to distribute homeland security grants based on risk and to screen airport personnel in secure areas have been endorsed by The New York Times. Lowey has also helped to obtain over $32 million in federal funds to develop local bioterrorism response plans and to provide local first responders with interoperable communication devices, rescue equipment, and personal protective gear.

Lowey is a strong advocate for women, children, and families. She has been a champion of education since her election to the House, fighting for school modernization, teacher development, and literacy programs. Under Lowey’s leadership, federal funding for after-school programs has increased from $1 million in 1996 to $1 billion today.  When GOP leaders threatened to eliminate the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the mid 1990s, Lowey "invited" puppets Bert and Ernie to a Congressional hearing. The resulting worldwide publicity is largely credited with saving the agency. When Republican leaders again targeted PBS for severe budget cuts in 2005, Lowey again successfully restored funding to the program. She has been equally stalwart in her defense of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and served on the prestigious National Council for the Arts in recognition of her leadership.

Lowey is one of the Appropriations Committee's leading advocates of increased federal investments in biomedical research on diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes of Health. Called a “champion of increased funding for breast cancer research” by The Washington Post, Lowey has helped increase NIH’s budget for cancer research by more than ten times and received multiple honors from the National Breast Cancer Coalition.  After hearing from constituents about the difficulty food-allergic consumers have reading product labels, Lowey authored the first-ever bill mandating clear, concise food allergen labeling. Her legislation was enacted in 2006, requiring food manufacturers to list in plain language on food labels the eight most common food allergens. The New York Times called this bill “an all too rare example … of bipartisan cooperation to serve the public good.”As public health experts warn that our nation is woefully unprepared for a possible avian flu pandemic, Congresswoman Lowey is pressing for action. Recognized as “an early advocate for pandemic preparedness” by the New York Daily News, she is the author of numerous bills to create a comprehensive pandemic plan. Lowey has also fought to improve health care by authoring a bill to ensure that women in managed care plans have direct access to their ob-gyns and is a strong supporter of legislation to guarantee that doctors and patients -- not insurance companies -- make decisions about appropriate care.  

A strong public safety advocate, Lowey supported the Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Ban, and is now working to ban the sale of handguns like the “Saturday Night Special.” Lowey was named Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD) “Legislator of the Year” for her leadership in authoring the nation's "Zero Tolerance" law, which made it illegal for minors to drive after consuming any alcohol, and the national DWI standard of .08 BAC. She is the author of legislation to prevent repeat drunk driving offenses.

As a candidate for Congress in 1988, Lowey pledged to clean up the Long Island Sound. In 1990 she passed legislation establishing a special Environmental Protection Agency office for Long Island Sound and has obtained millions of dollars in federal funding for local clean-up efforts. A co-founder of the Hudson River Caucus, Lowey has also taken a key role in protecting the New York City watershed and in preserving strong environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

Lowey, former Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus and the House Pro-Choice Caucus, was called “the most prominent abortion rights advocate in Congress” by The Washington Post.   She won widespread praise for passage of her legislation to ensure that insurance companies cover prescription contraceptives for federal employees. Lowey established the Congressional Advisory Panel to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to encourage abstinence and responsibility among teens. She has also been a leader in the fight against domestic violence, securing record increases in federal funding for battered women's shelters.  

On the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Lowey has also worked to ensure that national security and the war on terrorism are priorities in our foreign aid policy. She has championed efforts to identify and shut down terrorists’ financial networks and is a co-chair of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Financing Task Force.

Called “one of the engines of pro-Israel activity on Capitol Hill” by the Forward, Lowey has been a leading Congressional proponent of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and the Appropriations Committee's chief advocate of the annual U.S. aid package to Israel.

A longtime champion of human rights and enhancing the role of women in development, Lowey has taken a key role in fighting for democracy and justice in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, and around the world. She has been praised by the Boston Globe as someone who, “speaks of the world's victimized women and children as if they were voters in her district.”

Lowey was born in the Bronx; graduated from the Bronx High School of Science; and received a Bachelor's Degree from Mount Holyoke College. She served as Assistant Secretary of State for the State of New York before being elected to Congress. Nita and Stephen Lowey have been married for over 45 years and have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

Laurie Priest

Laurie Priest is the Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics at Mount Holyoke College where she oversees the College’s physical education program and directs an intercollegiate program in more than a dozen sports, a four-million dollar equestrian center, and a championship 18-hole golf course, site of the 2004 USGA Women’s Open. Under Priest’s leadership, Sports Illustrated for Women named Mount Holyoke the nation’s top women’s college athletics program in 2000.

A leading authority on women and sports, Priest is active professionally on national, regional and state levels, has published numerous articles, and is a frequent presenter at conferences. She is a tireless advocate for equity in sport and is recognized nationally for her work to promote and support Title IX. In l989-90, Priest was elected President of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport. She served on the NCAA Women's Committee on Committees from 1991-94, and chaired this committee in 1993-94. Priest also served from 1993-96 on the Executive Council of the Eastern College Athletic Conference and from 1996-2000 on the Executive Board of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA). In 1999-2002, Priest served on the Board of Governors and currently serves as the chair of the Social Justice Committee for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

In l991, Priest was awarded the Mabel Lee Award from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and in 1992 was inducted into the Northeast New Agenda Hall of Fame. In 1997, she received the Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Merit Award for outstanding leadership in women's athletics. In 2002 she was recognized by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport as their Honor Award recipient and as the Division III Athletic Administrator of the Year by the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators. Most recently, she was awarded a $40,000 grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to support a graduate internship for women and ethnic minorities interested in athletic administration.

Priest received her B.S. in physical education in 1977 from the College of Wooster (Ohio), and her M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland-College Park. Prior to coming to Mount Holyoke in l989, she served for seven years as director of athletics, assistant professor and swimming coach at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

Dyanne Rousseau FP ’10

Dyanne Rousseau FP ’10 is a native of Western Mass native who grew up in the communities surrounding Mount Holyoke College.  While working full time, Dyanne attended evening classes at Springfield Technical Community College.  Graduating with high honors, she received her Associate of Science in Business in 2007.  At STCC Dyanne became a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and Alpha Beta Gamma National Business Honor Society.  She transferred to Mount Holyoke College in the fall of 2007 and joined the college as a full time, Frances Perkins Scholar.

Committed to her community, Dyanne has served in various capacities, not limited to her elected term as Vice President and Treasurer of Belchertown Community Preschool, where she was awarded a service award for her extraordinary contribution and service to the preschool’s mission.  Dyanne has put her leadership and fundraising skills to use during her long term membership and term as Secretary of the Chestnut Hill Community School’s (CHCS) Parent Teacher Organization.  Dyanne collaborated with the CHCS’s Principal to provide novel ideas and programs which served to enrich the public school’s learning environment, provide outreach to the community and establish additional financial assistance to its faculty offering PTO grants.   Dyanne remains involved in the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts.  She has been actively involved and volunteers at her church Sunday School and public library children’s programs, in addition to her ongoing support of the numerous sports teams her three children participate in throughout the year.

At MHC, Dyanne is a member of the Frances Perkins Scholars Association and is presently employed as a MHC Peer Mentor.  (Interesting to note, 20 years ago as a Student Council Member, Dyanne was selected to participate in a then unique program to promote “positive peer pressure,” thus she became one of her high school’s first peer mentors.)  In her position as a Peer Mentor, Dyanne works to assist transfer students a positive and successful transition to MHC by providing support and encouragement throughout the process.  

Dyanne’s chosen academic major is Politics with a minor in Philosophy.  Her concentration investigates the social and economic policy issues of poverty.  Dyanne aspires to attend a local law school and work in the field of public interest law, specifically poverty law.   

Yedalis Ruiz FP ’08

Yedalis Ruiz FP ’08 graduated Phi Beta Kappa from  Mount Holyoke College in 2008 with a major in psychology and education. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in educational policy, research, and administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is a graduate assistant in psychology at Mount Holyoke College.

Yedalis has focused primarily on community-based research and education with a focus on youth development and the role of language and culture on the educational trajectories of Latino and urban youth.  She currently serves as the coordinator of Take the Lead, a nationally-renowned MHC program for high achieving high school students who are passionate about social change and have designed projects to address critical social needs in their communities and beyond.

Marcia Schenck ’09

Marcia Schenck ’09 graduated Phi Beta Kappa from MHC and has researched the history of the ‡Khomani  San in the Northern Cape, South Africa, for her history honors thesis  entitled “Land, Water, Truth, and Love – Visions of Identity and Land Access: From Bain’s Bushmen to ‡Khomani San.” A passionate photographer, she documented her experience in the Kalahari visually.

While engaged in fieldwork in January 2008, the interest of members of the ‡Khomani community to share their story with a wider audience  became apparent, and Marcia developed the idea of an exhibition in collaboration with the Weissman Center. Her two research travels to South Africa have been supported by a Weissman Center Leadership Grant, a Global Summer Studies Fellowship of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, and two Almara Grants of the Mount Holyoke College History Department.

Mika Weissbuch ’11

Mika Weissbuch ’11 is majoring in Critical Social Thought with a minor in Politics.  She is a mentor and an assistant for the Speaking, Arguing, and Writing (SAW) program and this semester is working with Mount Holyoke students in a seminar on nationalism.  She is a member of the MHC Student Coalition for Action and enjoys mentoring a middle-school student in Holyoke. Over the summer, Mika was a 5th and 6th grade English and Environmental Science teacher at Breakthrough San Francisco, and will be teaching again this summer.