Thursday, April 30, 2009

For Breast Cancer Awareness, Meet Judi Grove

April 21 was "Breast Cancer Awareness Day" at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Oklahoma Gazette had a nice article by Charles Martin April 15 on the event and breast cancer awareness. Featured prominently was Tulsa activist Judi Grove, founder of Breast Impressions which raises awareness through art and other projects. The mission of Breast Impressions is
to increase breast cancer awareness and fund raising to support breast cancer education, prevention and treatment. We donate breast casting kits to women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, to make a memory prior to surgery.
Grove is doing remarkable things to raise public awareness; read about her here. You can also see an interview with her here. Did you know that health care insurance plans in Oklahoma do not cover the cost of a mammography until a woman is 40 years old; so how do we catch breast cancer in young women?

Additional Oklahoma Women Confirmed to Serve Oklahoma

Other nomination confirmations in the State Senate yester for Oklahoma women:

Marjan Seirafi-Pour to the State Textbook Committee.
Shari Williams to the Murray State College Regents.
Vicki Vaughan to the State Textbook Committee.
Barbara Sessions to the Murray State College Regents.
Sandra Rose to the Environmental Quality Board.
Amy Regan to the Okla. Tourism and Recreation Commission.
Nancy Pfeifer to the Examiners of Long-Term Care Admins Board.
Vicki Petete to the Oklahoma Accountancy Board.
Sharon Myers to the Air Quality Advisory Council.
Teresa Kay Jackson to the Eastern Okla. State College Regents.
Jenny Hendrick to the Quartz Mtn. Center Board of Trustees.
Deanna Hartley-Kelso to the Board of Juvenile Affairs.
Jane Godlove to the Quartz Mtn. Center Board of Trustees.
Maxine Finley-McFalls to the ABLE Commission.
Jeannie Gault to the Examiners of Long-Term Care Admins Board.
LeAnn Chastain to the State Textbook Committee.
Julie Cohen to the Quartz Mtn. Center Board of Trustees.
Betty Boyd to the OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees.

Any Oklahoma women I left out? (If so,my apologies.) If you know any of these women, please congratulate and thank them for serving. These aren't honorary appointments; they will work hard, give up a lot of their time and spend some out-of-pocket money serving in these capacities.

Thanks to The Journal Record's Legislative Reporter ( for tweeting this information!

Terri White Now Officially OK Secty of Health

Congratulations to Terri White who was officially confirmed as Cabinet Secretary of Health yesterday. The motion to confirm was introduced by Sen. Rice. It was approved by the Oklahoma State Senate 47-0. White has served as Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for two years and, before that, she was deputy commissioner of the agency. Here is a story about her appointment last January.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Women in Communications Honor Oklahoma Women

I'm tardy in mentioning the extraordinary women honored last February by the Association for Women in Communications Oklahoma City Chapter. They were Mike Farris, Martha Ferretti, Molly Fritch, Cathy O'Connor, Dr. Marion Paden, and Billie Thrash; you can read about them HERE. The AWC Tulsa Chapter also recognizes women; click HERE to read about their 2008 Newsmakers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Check out Oklahoma Magazine's May 2009 Issue on Oklahoma Women

The May 2009 issue of Oklahoma Magazine is out and it is entitled "The Women's Issues." Go HERE and register so you can view the issue online. As usual it is a beautiful product. But, more importantly, it is dedicated to issues important to WOMEN.

See especially "Women Helping Women" about programs in Oklahoma tackling some of the worst statistics on the status of women in our state. But also check out "Girls Will Be Girls," "No Boys Allowed," and good articles on women's health including "The Parent Trap" on fertility, "The Unavoidable" on menopause, "It's Different for Women" on heart disease, "Predicting a Heart Attack," "Best Practices" on lifestyle changes, "Close Call" on warning signs of a heart attack, "A Beautiful You," "Adventures in Mommyland," plus 9 pages featuring Oklahoma business women and a special article on "Wine, Women & Shoes" -- three YWCA of Tulsa events June 11, 12, and 13.

There is also a profile on Jane Jenkins (the new President of Downtown OKC Inc.) and another on Arcadia, OK Mayor Marilyn Murrell entitled "A Warrior for Women." It begins, "A quick glance at statistics regarding women in politics shows that Oklahoma lags far behind the national average in the percentage of women involved in local and state government. Marilyn Murrell would like to see this disparity reconciled." Me too! Thank you, Mayor Murrell, for the hat tip to the NEW Leadership program at OU's Carl Albert Center.

I'm a little sad there was no mention of the work of the Oklahoma Women's Coalition but you can't have everything, right? This is an issue worth buying and saving. Kudos, Oklahoma Magazine, for a job well done.

Oklahoma Women Traveling to Rwanda

Oklahoman Terry Neese runs the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women which helps women abroad learn business skills. Her focus these days is Afghanistan and Rwanda. She has several Oklahoma city women (see below) involved as well:
Our upcoming 2009 Peace through Business® graduation in Rwanda will have mentors from the U.S. in attendance! Mary Melon (Publisher, The Journal Record), Martha Parker (IEEW Board Member), Darcie Harris (Founder, EWF International), Desma Reid-Coleman (IEEW Board Member), and Lin Weigel (Chief of Staff for IEEW) will travel to Rwanda on May 1st and will be a part of the graduation ceremonies. They will conduct a mentor lecture series for our students enrolled in the program. The 15 women selected to travel to the U.S. will be announced at the reception where dignitaries will include the Minister of Gender, Minister of Education, Minister of Justice, and U.S. Ambassador Symington. It will be a very festive graduation and a busy week. We want to offer our complete and heart-felt thanks to Eron Nsenga and Holly Hixson for their dedicated efforts to making the Rwandan In-Country magnificent!
Last I heard, Mary Melon, Darcie Harris and Lyn Weigel are all Oklahoma City residents.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrate Earth Day by honoring Kenyan Dr. Wangari Maathai

In honor of Earth Day, watch a videoblog on Dr. Wangari Maathai, who in 2004 became both the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Maathai is from Kenya and knows my dear friend Florence Mubichi.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kristy Stewart with Norman's Women's Resource Center Receives National Honor

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has announced the 2009 recipients of the Visionary Voice Award. This award recognizes the creativity, hard work, and dedication of individuals around the country working to address and prevent sexual violence. Winners are selected by their respective state, tribal, or territory anti-sexual violence coalitions and represent a wide range of individuals doing this critical work at the local level. Twelve individuals were honored this year including Kristy Stewart of Oklahoma. According to the NSVRC website,
"Kristy Stewart has been Coordinator of Crisis Services at Women’s Resource Center in Norman, OK, since 2002, having served as a women’s advocate since 1984. She quickly advanced from Intake Worker to Women’s Advocate to Supervisor to her current position. Kristy is actively involved in the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, especially in the area of legislative initiative and technology development. Kristy led her agency’s efforts in developing a model rape crisis center on the campus of Women’s Resource Center that has set the standard for sexual assault services in Oklahoma."
Congratulations, Kristy! The NSVRC provides resources and information on sexual violence to rape crisis centers, state, territory and tribal coalitions, allied organizations, agencies, educators, media and the general public.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Oklahoma Supporting Single Mothers Pursuing College Degrees via "SMART"

Today there are more than 25,000 single parent students attending Oklahoma colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, these are women balancing parenting, college and jobs.

SMART is an acronym for Single Mothers Academic Resource Team; SMART is committed to identifying pathways for all single parents who wish to complete a higher education in Oklahoma.

Why should this matter? There are a multitude of reasons:

~ Assisting single parents improves graduation rates for Oklahoma's colleges. This generates a multiplier effect: new college graduates with families are more likely to stay in Oklahoma and become a part of our professional workforce. Those campuses that make a multi-sector effort to be “adult-friendly” see increased enrollment because they appeal to the 31% of Oklahoma college student who are 25 or older.

~ Households led by single mothers collectively face daunting economic challenges: affordable housing, appropriate child care, health care benefits to name just a few. Many women are forced to rely on federal and state assistance programs and yet still live below the poverty threshold. In Oklahoma, nearly one in four children lives in poverty[1] and one third of all Oklahoma children are raised in homes where no adult has an education beyond high school.[2] Yet, we know that parental income level is the best predictor of a child’s educational attainment. A college education provides a family with the earning power to move out of impoverishment and off of assistance programs that costs Oklahoma taxpayers millions annually. Federal and state governments pay up to $2,000 less per year on social services for persons who have a college education.[3] Considering the nearly 30,000 single parent students in Oklahoma, we are on our way to saving $60 million dollars annually in social services.

~ Supporting single mothers as they complete their higher education goals diminishes the dismal statistics about Oklahoma women including the fact that not even 1 in 7 completes four or more years of higher education.[4] At the national level, less than 5% of single mothers graduate from college. [5]

~ A college education for single parents is not only about better jobs and increased incomes. Historically, college graduates are more active in our political processes and contribute more of their time and resources to their communities because they exhibit a greater awareness of current political and social issues, community needs and government policies that impact their lives. Overall, college graduates pay more taxes, are less likely to be imprisoned and enjoy better health and health care coverage.[6]

~ Most importantly, a parent with a college education models a legacy for their children where goal setting and academic achievement are valued. It sets a new tradition: In this family, we go to college.

SMART is the result of collaborative funding on the part of the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) and GEAR UP. It is seeking to identify and advocate for pathways that enable single mother students (SMS) to complete their higher education goals.

There are programs already in place at many of Oklahoma's public college campuses that assist single mother students. One of these is Project Second Chance (PSC) at Oklahoma State University – OKC Campus (See Appendix B).

PSC, housed at The Learning Center and under the direction of Karen Kruse, is the state’s longest established program to assist single parent students. This program offers a myriad of services to approximately 1,000 single parent students annually including completing financial aid forms, supporting an emergency food pantry, family-friendly campus events and a Single Parent’s Student Association. Karen secured seed money through grants and then, by demonstrating how effective her programming had been, was able to receive additional support from the campus itself.

There are many excellent ways to make a difference on our college and university campuses and many of these interventions are cost effective. Consider, for example:

· Advertising the pediatric services available at your campus health center

· Providing a basket of children’s books at academic advising offices

· Designating a portion of married/graduate student housing for single parent students

· Starting an organization for single mother students

· Providing faculty mentors for single mother students

· Adding high chairs to common eating areas

· Reviewing the hours of operation, costs and waiting lists at community child care centers

· Advertising the children’s literature available for check-out at your campus library

· Offering textbook scholarships to eligible single parents

· Providing budgeting workshops and financial education (including financial aid advisement)

· Offering a new student orientation session that is family-friendly

· Encouraging student organizations to take on service projects that meet the expressed needs of single mother students

· Hosting holiday events on campus specifically geared toward families

· Developing a graduation plan for single parents where they can visualize the milestones
they must achieve to complete their degree

Most importantly, research indicates that all Oklahoma campuses offer services for single parent students but they are not doing a good enough job marketing these resources to their student population. Each campus should consider:

~ What can we include in admissions packages?

~ Where do we need to advertise to reach single mother students?

~ What minor modifications can we make right now?

The SMART Team invites colleges across Oklahoma to join them in this statewide effort. 25,000 families are depending on you to help them achieve their college dreams.

[1] Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma,
[2] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Unrealized Health Potential: A Snapshot of Oklahoma, “
[3] Cunningham, Alisa, “The Broader Societal Benefits of Higher Education,” Solutions for our Future.
[4] Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma,
[5] National Center for Health Statistics, 2002.
[6] Cunningham.

Source. "Dr. Erin Taylor, Academic Affairs, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education?" (Paper entitled "The SMART Pathway")