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Madison Caucus for Gender Equality

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2014 Recipients: Zanetta Ford, Elizabeth Hoover and Renee Staton

Zanetta Ford

Zanetta Ford works at James Madison University as the Director of Membership & Volunteer Services at WMRA & WEMC Radio Network, where her focus is sustaining the vitality of the organization. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with JMU’s Department of Social Work. She currently teaches Grant Writing for Agencies. Outside of work, Zanetta continues her dedication to philanthropy by volunteering in her community. She has served on the Policy Council for Hope Community Services Head Start, as well as the Monticello Area Community Action Agency Head Start. She currently volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council as a member of both the Board of Directors and the Board Development Committee.

Ms. Ford earned her Masters of Business Administration from Walden University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Old Dominion University, and an Associates degree with a concentration in Web and Graphic Design from ECPI Technical College. She is also a graduate of the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management & Fundraising from University of Richmond’s School of Continuing Studies: Institute on Philanthropy. She lives with her family in Harrisonburg, VA.

Ms. Ford will use her award to attend the Public Media Development & Marketing Conference in Denver, CO in July 2014. At this conference Zanetta will meet and network with public broadcasting professionals around the country to share ideas related to public radio funding and fundraising.


Elizabeth HooverElizabeth Hoover is the Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and teaches Introduction to Creative Writing (Poetry.) She is a feminist writer who enjoys working on projects with conceptual or research elements. Her poetry has received a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Award and a Split This Rock Poetry of Provocation and Witness Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in Los Angeles Review, PANK, and Poetry Northwest. After receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University in 2009, she worked as a freelance journalist and book critic, contributing to such publications as the Minneapolis Star-TribuneParis ReviewCarnegie, and Sampsionia Way. Her essay "Phantom Language," which examines the role of spectatorship in violence, is a finalist for the Diana Woods Memorial Award. Other projects include a biography of the poet Robert Hayden and a book-length series of poems set in a fantastical archive that offer poetry as an alternative form of truth-telling when the historical record is plagued by gaps and inaccuracies.  

Ms. Hoover will use her award to consult with the poet, Catherine Bowman, on the completion of Ms. Hoover’s manuscript, The Enterprise of Seeing. Ms. Hoover ultimately hopes her writing will begin and help continue conversations regarding gender climate on campuses, the silencing of woman writers and the nature of sexual violence.


Renee StatonRenee Staton is Professor in the Department of Graduate Psychology’s Counseling Programs. She teaches multicultural counseling, supervision and consultation, advanced development psychology, and school counseling. Her recent research interests include gender issues in counseling, particularly gender expression and affirmative counseling practice with young people, and her recent service includes exploration of mindfulness in K-12 settings. She is a licensed professional counselor specializing in girls’ and women’s concerns and work with families and has experience working with clients with a wide range of needs and from diverse backgrounds. She has also served as president of the Virginia Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and the Virginia Counselors Association, which recently awarded her the Van Hoose Award for Career Service. She has a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Virginia.


2013 Recipients: Jessica Davidson and Erica Bleeg

Jessica DavidsonJessica Davidson is an Associate Professor of History, and Coordinator for the Women's and Gender Studies minor. Her teaching interests include Twentieth century Spain; women’s history, and comparative history. Her research focuses on Twentieth-century Spanish political, social, and women's history, women in right-wing politics, and Catholicism in twentieth-century Spain. Reflecting these interests she has recently published “Women, Fascism and Work in Francoist Spain: The Law for Political, Professional and Labour Rights,”Gender and History, July 2011. Her recent focus is gender, sexuality, and historical memory of the Franco dictatorship through film.

Based on Dr. Davidson's paper “Reliving the Franco Dictatorship: Gender and the Orphanage in Recent Spanish Film” delivered at the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (ASPHS) conference, she will continue to research and analyze a set of Spanish films that speak to gender and historical memory during the Franco regime. In the first decade of the 21st century three films appeared in Spain that overtly played out the role of childhood and gender, in the context of an orphanage, or boarding school, during the Franco regime.The Devil’s Backbone, directed by Guillermo del Toro and produced by Pedro Almodovar’s company, came out in 2001, Bad Education debuted in 2004, and The Orphanage directed by Juan Antonio Bayona in 2007. The three films are not the same but clearly grapple with the role of memory, youth, and orphanages. The first two films most overtly deal with the Franco dictatorship.


Erica BleegErica Katherine Bleeg is Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in the Department of English and Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies. She teaches creative writing workshops in literary nonfiction. Her recent research has led to two courses that examine how we inherited the foods we eat today and how that food arrives on our plates. Her own nonfiction has been published in The North American ReviewThe Missouri ReviewThe Wilson Quarterly, andGastronomica. She is the recipient of The Missouri Review’s Editors’ Prize, a Pushcart nomination, and The University of Chicago’s Ruth Murray Prize. After graduating magna cum laude from JMU in 1996, she volunteered full time at a maternity clinic for low-income women in Yakima, Washington, followed by two years of Peace Corps service in Benin, West Africa. She has an M.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa.

The Madison Caucus for Gender Equality's Professional Development Award will help fund her book project, THE WATER THAT RUNS AND RUNS, a coming-of-age memoir that follows Bleeg on her search for strong women in Benin, West Africa. Before arriving in Benin, Bleeg feared that middle-class American preoccupations with status and material acquisition had compromised women’s strengths. She didn’t think she’d had the role modeling she needed to be healthy, so she sought out work with a Beninois midwife so she could witness what she thought was the strongest act on earth, giving birth, and soon learned just how isolating that experience can be. The book explores what it means to be a strong woman in Benin and the United States, the limitations of viewing a woman’s value through strength alone, and the ways gender inequality plays out in women’s economic, physical, and mental well being.



2012 Recipient: Milla Sue Wisecarver

Milla Sue WisecarverMilla Sue Wisecarver is Assistant Director of Athletics Communications at James Madison University, where she currently handles athletics communications for four sports teams (women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, women's lacrosse).  She has worked in public relations for JMU since 1975, when she was assistant director of then-Madison College's Public and Sports Information Office. During her tenure at JMU she has worked in some respect with every intercollegiate sport program offered by the University, and she also worked with academic and alumni public relations from 1975-92. Wisecarver also has experience working in media operations for six international events, including the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She is a 1975 magna cum laude of JMU with a B.A. in communications and social sciences.

The Madison Caucus for Gender Equality's Professional Development Award was used to fund Wisecarver's participation in a Landmark Education training program titled "Living Powerfully: A Life that Defies the Predictable". Wisecarver is using the training from this program to strengthen her abilities to be effective in the workplace and act as a mentor to the college-aged women who work in paid positions, practica and internships in JMU Athletics Communications. The training in the Landmark Education program is being used to empower both female salaried employees as well as student workers so that these women can have an effective influence in the male-dominated field of university athletics public relations.