The Dominion Lecture is an annual address sponsored by the James Madison University’s Madison Caucus for Gender Equality. Every year, the Caucus brings to campus a notable person to speak to students, faculty and staff about issues vital, challenging and of primary importance to the JMU community.

Initiated in November 1975, the series has consistently given the campus a rich diversity of leaders whose voices have energized the spirit and activism of women and men concerned and committed to consciousness raising and progressive action. The event is sponsored by the Madison Caucus for Gender Equality, The Office of the Provost, and various other units at James Madison University.

Past Lectures

"Working Towards a More Inclusive Commonwealth."
Presented by Delegate Danica Roem
Monday, September 9, 2019

Delegate Danica Roem (D-13th) represents the Thirteenth District in the Virginia House of Delegates which includes the City of Manassas Park and the Prince William County portions of Haymarket, Gainesville and Manassas.

Born at Prince William Hospital in Manassas in 1984, Del. Roem is a step-mom and a lifelong resident of the 13th District from Manassas. She covered western Prince William County as the lead reporter of the Gainesville Times/Prince William Times from 2006-2015.

After winning a historic election in 2017 to become the first out-and-seated transgender state legislator in American history, Del. Roem joined a bi-partisan coalition of state lawmakers in 2018 to expand Medicaid to 400,000 uninsured Virginians and raise teacher pay throughout the commonwealth. She also helped bring Haymarket its first commuter bus line to Arlington (beginning Dec. 17, 2018) and was thrilled when the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) voted in June 2018 to allocate $128 million to improve Route 28. 

She continues to advocate for fixing Route 28, expanding access to quality, affordable health insurance, increasing government accountability and making Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth.


"Call Your Mutha': A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in Anthropocene"
Presented by Dr. Jane Caputi
Monday, September 24, 2018   

In this year's lecture Jane Caputi discusses “The Anthropocene,” or “Age of Man,” a proposed scientific name for the current geological age where “humans” now “rival” and “overwhelm” Nature. Glossed over is the truth that said humans are actually those identified by decolonial theorist Sylvia Wynter as Man, a Western-identified ethno-class. Meanwhile, others do the dirty work and suffer the consequences of all that “overwhelming.” This illustrated talk, inspired by the richly nuanced, if obscene, MFword, considers the gendered, raced and sexually violent concept of the Anthropocenein dialogue with the ancient one of Mother Earth, newly discernible as the cunctipotent, autonomous and formidable Earth Mutha’.

Jane Caputi is Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University.  In 2016, she was named as the Eminent Scholar of the Year by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.  She has written many articles, collaborated with Mary Daly on Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language,and authored three books: The Age of Sex CrimeGossips, Gorgons, and Crones; and Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture.  She has made two educational documentaries, The Pornography of Everyday Lifeand Feed the Green: Feminist Voices for the Earth.  She also has curated two visual culture exhibits on commercial presidential campaign paraphernalia: Political Circus 2008: Hating Hillary, Baiting Barak, and Pandering with Palin, followed up with From (Castrating) Bitch to (Big) Nuts and Beyond: Political Sideshow 2016.  Currently, she writing a new book, Call Your Mutha’:A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocenefor an Oxford University Press series on “Heretical Thinking.”


"Women's Reproductive Rights in the Age of Trump"
Presented by Ms. Loretta Ross
Thursday, September 21, 2017

This lecture discussed the current state of reproductive politics; defined reproductive justice and human rights; and discussed the more than 500 types of pro-active legislation women are using in the states to fight the attacks on women’s human rights.

Loretta Ross started her career in the women’s movement in the 1970s, working at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, NOW (the National Organization for Women), SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective from 1997-2012, the Center for Democratic Renewal/National Anti-Klan Network, the National Center for Human Rights Education, and the National Black Women’s Health Project. She is one of the co-creators of the Reproductive Justice framework in 1994, and has lectured and written extensively on reproductive justice issues, human rights, racism, appropriate whiteness, Calling In the Calling Out Culture, diversity issues, and violence against women. She is the former director of the first rape crisis center in the U.S. in the 1970s, and she was the Co-Director of the historic 2004 March for Women’s Lives, the biggest protest in U.S. history at that time, with 1.15 million participants. She has worked to deprogram white supremacists in the hate movement (see Los Angeles Times Up From Hatred), facilitates groups working across identity, political, and affinity differences, and endeavors to build a U.S. based human rights movement focused on human rights violations in the United States. 

View the lecture here.

Loretta Ross

"The State of Higher Education for LGBTQ People: Implications for Campus Policies and Programs"

Presented by Dr. Sue Rankin
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dr. Sue Rankin reviewed several of the challenges facing LGBT faculty, staff, and students. The foundation of the discussion is based on Dr. Rankin’s 30 years of LGBT research and over 170 campus climate assessments. She suggested actions that can promote social justice interventions and policies to critically transform higher education environments.

Dr. Rankin is the Senior Research Associate of Rankin & Associates Consulting and recently retired as Associate Professor of Education in the College Student Affairs Program at Penn State. She served as a faculty member and researcher at Penn State for nearly 30 years and also served the administration overseeing Diversity efforts. She has published widely on the impact of sexism, racism, heterosexism, and transgender oppression in the academy. She’s best known for her research assessing institutional climate and providing program planners and policy makers with recommendations and strategies for improving the campus climate for underserved communities. Dr. Rankin is a pioneer in campus climate research. Although she is best known for her work assessing the climate for LGBT people on campus, her work is intersectional and has always examined gender, race, ability, and other factors that shape life on campus. Her life’s work has led to meaningful, measurable differences in the quality of campus life, especially for gender minority and sexual minority faculty, staff, and students in higher education in the United States.

View her PowerPoint presentation here.

Sue Rankin

"The New Networked Campus Anti-Rape Movement"
Presented by Dr. Caroline Heldman
Monday, September 14, 2015

Dr. Heldman discussed the campus sexual assault epidemic and new efforts to combat it. She examined the brief history of the new Campus Anti-Rape Movement and what it has accomplished since its inception in 2013. This lecture emphasized best practices for activists who are interested in shifting rape culture on college campuses.

Dr. Caroline Heldman is Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. She specializes in the presidency, media, gender, and race in the American context. Heldman earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Business Management from Washington State University. She has been active in “real world” politics as a congressional staffer, campaign manager, campaign consultant, and political activist. Heldman has also been active in the new campus anti-rape movement. She was the lead Title IX complainant against Occidental College, co-founded the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition with student Audrey Logan, co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC), and co-founded Faculty Against Rape (FAR). Heldman works with survivor activists across the nation to hold their schools accountable.

Caroline Heldman

"Changing Agents: Inclusive Excellence as Path to Innovation"
Presented by Dr. Leah Hollis
Monday, September 22, 2014

With shifting demographics in staff, students and community, any university needs inclusive practices in leadership. Such inclusive leadership practices that embrace diversity and civility maintain a healthy environment. The keynote speech will reflect on diversity and innovation that emerge from a culture of inclusion.

Dr. Leah P. Hollis is the Founder and President of Patricia Berkly, LLC, a diversity training and consulting group. Dr. Hollis is a noted trainer, educator, and researcher. She has an exemplary career in higher education administration where she has held senior leadership and faculty posts. Dr. Hollis has taught at Northeastern University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Rutgers University. She received her Doctorate of Education in Administration, Training and Policy Studies from Boston University as a Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellow and earned certifications in EEO Law/Affirmative Action and Conflict Resolution and Investigation from the American Association for Affirmative Action. She has served as a diversity trainer for Northeastern University and speaks regionally and nationally as a diversity trainer and consultant on topics such as race, gender, ethnicity, equality and access. She has authored two books: Unequal Opportunity: Fired without cause? Filing with the EEOC... and Bully in the Ivory Tower: How Aggression and Incivility Erode American Higher Education.

Leah Hollis

"Debunking the Myth: The Hierarchy of Oppression"
Presented by Rev. Irene Monroe
September 16, 2013

How can we improve gender climate at JMU? Many of us experience gendered microaggressions in our work world but we aren’t sure how to respond. Perhaps we can begin by thinking about what it means to experience oppression. The hierarchy of oppression is the false belief that one oppression - and it's usually the one a person identifies with - is greater than other oppressions. This talk worked toward the goal of community by examining the intersection of race, gender, class and sexuality, and how they impact identity, identification, and community building on college campuses. 

Rev. Irene Monroe is a religion columnist, public theologian and motivational speaker. As an African American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the former coordinator of the African American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion, a Huffington Post blogger, and a syndicated religion columnist. A native of Brooklyn, Monroe is a graduate of Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. As a syndicated queer religion columnist, Monroe’s columns appear in 43 states across the country and in the UK.

View the lecture here.

Irene Monroe

"Successful Career Tips from Savvy Career Women: The Four Patterns of Gender Bias"
Presented by Joan C. Williams
September 3, 2012

Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Thirty-five years of social science show that women may encounter pushback when they do the same things men do. This talk both described the patterns of bias documented by social science, and shared strategies successful women have used to navigate the unique challenges professional women often face. 

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings Foundation Chair, Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has played a central role in reshaping the debates over women’s advancement for the quarter century. According to The New York Times, “she has something approaching rock-star status” among work/life advocates. She won the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award forUnbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000). She has authored or co-authored seventy academic articles and chapters and five books, most recently Reshaping The Work-Family Debate: Men and Class Matter (Harvard Univ. Press, 2010). Williams' lecture was introduced by JMU President Jonathan Alger.

View the lecture here.

Joan Williams

"From Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild: 
The Rise of Enlightened Sexism in the Middle"

Presented by Dr. Susan Douglas
April 6, 2011

Douglas’ most recent book, Enlightened Sexism, examines mixed messages about women presented in the media and questions the myth that complete equality for women has been achieved. She will discuss this critique and call to action in her address entitled “From Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild: The Rise of Enlightened Sexism in the Middle.” Best selling author of Kiss My TiaraHypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, Susan Jane Gilman writes of Douglas’ Enlightened Sexism: "A must-read: Whip-smart, witty, and scathingly insightful. Susan Douglas has penned a brilliant -- and often funny -- critique of the myths about equality, ambition, and femininity that are currently being served up as 'reality' in our media-crazed culture. She challenges those who insist that feminism is outmoded, that strong women are scary and
unlovable, and that 'real' girl power comes from Botox, a bustier, and the ability to poledance in a pair of size-two hot pants. Best yet, Enlightened Sexism offers an antidote to the contradictory messages and predicaments many women experience today. It’s a call to action and an inspiration." Douglas is also author of Listening InWhere the Girls Are and co-author of the The Mommy Myth. Audience members will have an opportunity to peak with Douglas at the book signing and reception to follow the lecture.

Dr. Susan Douglas is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Michigan.

Susan Douglas

Jill Ker Conway
April 2, 2008


Jill Ker Conway was born in Hillston, New South Wales.  The story of her early life is known to those who have read her best-selling memoir The Road from Coorain.  She is a graduate of the University of Sydney in History and English, and earned her Ph.D. in history at Harvard in 1969.  Ms. Conway served as Vice President for Internal Affairs at the University of Toronto from 1973 to 1975.  In 1975 she became the first woman president of Smith College and served ten years in that post. 

Since 1985 she has been a Visiting Scholar and Professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's program in Science, Technology and Society.  She holds thirty-eight honorary degrees from North American and Australian Colleges and Universities. Ms. Conway is a director of a number of major American companies, including Merrill Lynch and Co., Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Nike, Inc. She also served as director of Lend Lease Corporation from 1992 to 2003 and Chairman from 2000-2003. 

Ms. Conway is the author of several best-selling books: The Road from Coorain, published in 1989; Written By Herself, an anthology of American women's autobiography published in 1992; True North, the second installment of her memoirs, spanning her life from 1960 when she left her native Australia to 1975 when she accepted the presidency of Smith College; and When Memory Speaks - Reflections on Autobiography.

Ms. Conway has also edited three anthologies of women’s autobiography from around the world, the most recent being In Her Own Words, published by Vintage Books. Her latest books include a mystery novel written in collaboration with Elizabeth Kennan under the pseudonym, Clare Munnings, titled Overnight Float, Norton, 2000, and A Woman’s Education, Knopf, 2001, the third installment of her memoir picking up in 1975 when she began as the first woman president of Smith College. 

Ms. Conway was married to the late John J. Conway, Canadian war hero and Professor of British History at Harvard. She makes her home in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jill Conway

"How Much Difference Can One Voice Make?”
Presented by Catie Curtis
April 19-20, 2007

Catie Curtis, born and raised in Saco, Maine, began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 15.  After graduating from Brown University with a B.A. in social work, Catie moved to San Francisco. A year later, Catie succumbed to the pull of her New England roots, finding a home in the thriving Boston acoustic music scene. She was employed for six years as a social worker, during which time she became deeply involved in social issues. Throughout her career as a nationally known folk singer and acoustic guitarist, she has written, sung, and spoken about social injustices with a particular concern on women’s issues.

She tours steadily, headlining clubs, theaters and acoustic listening rooms, building and nurturing a strong and loyal fan base around the US and Europe. She released two records on Rykodisc Records, "A Crash Course in Roses" (1999) and "My Shirt Looks Good on You" (2001-from which the single "Kiss that Counted" won a Boston Music Award). Catie released "Acoustic Valentine" on her own Sam the Pug Records in 2003. "Dreaming in Romance Languages" was released on Vanguard in 2004, and Catie has recently recorded a new CD, entitled "Long Night Moon," which was released in August of 2006. She was recently awarded the 2005 International Songwriting Competition's Grand Prize for a song from the upcoming CD, which she co-wrote with Mark Erelli. The song, "People Look Around," is about social issues and Hurricane Katrina. It took top honors among 15,000 songs from 82 countries. 

Some of the better known songs Catie has written include:  The Wolf and Walk Along theHighway   (about the abuse of women):  Hole in the Bucket (how the poor fall through the cracks of society):  Sugar Cane (dealing with the effects of industrial pollution):  Love Takes the Best of You (about the love involved in raising children): and Forgiveness (the importance of forgiving others).

Catie performed songs and discussed her work, her politics and the effect that musician-singers can have on social justice issues.

Catie Curtis

“Exploding Stereotypes: Beyond the Myth”
Presented by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez 
March 22, 2004

Best-selling author of The Dirty Girls Social Club, Playing with Boys, Make Him Look Good, and Hater, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has been named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez invited the audience to think beyond fixed categories and assumptions about groups of people.  Specifically, she discussed the challenges, obstacles and joys of realizing one’s dreams as she had to break through stereotypes and labels, motivating audiences to see parallels in their own lives.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

“The Legacy of Matthew Shepard”
Presented by Judy Shepard
March 14, 2003

Founder of the Matthew Shepard foundation, Judy Shepard is an anti-hate crime activist and educator.

In a personal narrative style, Judy Shepard reflected on the tragic consequences of hate in our culture. Shepard’s address encouraged audience members to consider strategies for making our schools and community safer places for everyone, regardless of race, gender and sexual identity, and religion.

Judy Shepard

“Civil Liberties in a Time of Terror”
Presented by Nadine Strossen
March 19, 2002

Current and first-female President of the American Civil Liberties Union, Nadine Strossen is author of Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights and Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

In a early discussion of civil liberties in a post-9/11 society, Nadine Strossen offer a critical assessment of infringements on civil liberties as response to the U.S. “War on Terrorism.”  Strossen offered insights and assessments of the direction of civil liberties in the U.S. from her position as the President of the A.C.L.U.

Nadine Strossen

“Some Leaders are Born Women”
Presented by Sarah Weddington
February 20, 2001

Sarah Weddington, feminist activist and lawyer, is the winning attorney in U.S. Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade.  She is also author of A Question of Choice, a book that chronicles the history of the decision through 1992.  During President Carter’s administration, Weddington acted as Assistant to the President.  She continues to give lectures and write, while teaching at the University of Texas, Austin.

In this inspirational talk, Sarah Weddington explored the historical features of the women’s movements, the obstacles that women have faced and continue to face, and motivations for ways for women to enhance their leadership roles.  In this talk, she argued that women are indeed leaders and should see themselves as such.

Sarah Weddington

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