The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Panel discussion to acknowledge the accomplishments of women everywhere

Gannon University will be celebrating National Women’s History Month in a panel discussion from 2-4 p.m. in the Yehl Alumni Ballroom Saturday.

Carolyn Baugh, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and women’s studies program director, co-organized the Inspire Action panel discussion with Parris Baker, Ph.D., assistant professor in the social work program.

Four guest panelists will lead the discussion – Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County executive; Sister Annette Marshall, executive director of the Neighborhood Art House; Tiffany McCloud, president of the Erie Chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Maria Montero, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.

Kathleen Kingston, Ph.D., associate provost, will moderate the discussion.

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Additionally, Berwyn Moore, professor in the English department, and two students, Lexie Mastro and Angie Jeffery, will be reading some of their own poetry.

Jong will be doing a short speech and song presentation as the real-life character “Sojourner Truth.” The Erie Dance Theater will also be performing.

The event is geared toward inviting women to continue their history of community activism and leadership, Baugh said.

“Not only are we celebrating and showcasing women’s achievements, but we are also hoping to point out how much work there is to be done,” Baugh said. “And how valuable it is in the life of a community to have the ongoing, vigorous participation of women.”

Cheryl Jong, administrative secretary for the Honors Program, said she applauds those who help create a venue for these kind of events.

“Most importantly, I look forward to the day when it is not a necessity because truth, righteousness, equality and justice for everyone will prevail and be ingrained in all of our consciousness,” Jong said.

Women are invited to recognize their own power – intellectual and spiritual – to affect change in their lives and the lives around them, Baugh said.

“We have designed this afternoon to be one of affirmation, encouragement and empowerment,” Baugh said. “And so we are affirming the importance of women’s wisdom and voice, no matter their occupation, level of education, age or background.”

Gannon students and community service groups will table the event to share information, recruit and to show people how they can help out.

“In this way, we will be letting both Gannon students and members of the community who want to become more involved in service to find outlets for their talents,” Baugh said. “It is important to acknowledge this month because it is significant to be constantly aware of how far women have come and how different our lives would be today if it weren’t for the contribution of women activists and leaders.”

All people have to prove themselves to others, but women are often still steeped in the script of dependence that they have internalized from too many fairytales — they are awaiting someone else to come along and save the day, Baugh said.

“I have often seen women questioning and devaluing their own voices and insights,” she said. “Most of all discounting their own personal power to solve the many problems around them.”

Baugh said each person should leave the event feeling as though everyone has a responsibility to be constantly asking, “What can I do?”

The theme “Inspire Action,” Baugh said, should have people leaving with a renewed commitment to serve their community.

A women-established organization contributing to the advancement of the community is the Inner City Neighborhood Art House. Marshall, executive director of the organization, assures the sustainability of the Art House and its program. The program includes telling the Art House story – including venues, writing the newsletter, reaching out to businesses and individuals to gather donors, volunteers and spokespersons for the Art House.

In 1994, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie opened the inner-city Neighborhood Art House because they believe that the need for the arts in the lives of the unfortunate is as real as the need for bread, Marshall said.

“I commend those who have put this event together and hope it is well attended – especially by some of the young women whose education and drive is needed,” Marshall said. “Women are the driving force behind much of the services provided by the smaller nonprofit organizations in this city.”

Sister Mary Lou Kownacki and Sister Joan Chittister – both Benedictine Sisters – established the Art House, Marshall said.

“Because much of the work done by these women goes unrecognized, it is important to tell the real story of how much women do for our city,” Marshall said. “Perhaps this will inspire more women to reach out to those in need.”

Marshall said that women still have to prove themselves to others in certain professions, but that the situation is improving.

“I do think that on an individual basis, it is still necessary for women to get the recognition and the salary that men in similar positions would get,” Marshall said.

Jong said she believes everyone in a position of leadership should be expected to prove themselves, men and women alike.

“However, more likely than not, men seem to get a by or a pass on this requirement, while women are frequently scrutinized,” Jong said. “These events leave you walking away realizing how much women offer – not just in giving life – in helping others to live a good, robust life as well.”

Whenever there is an act of setting aside a month to recognize something, it means there is not enough attention on the matter wholly, Jong said.

“Under the guise of celebrating, it’s another type of affirmative action, something gratuitous—we won’t step up to the plate and give these concerns the determined focus and continual engagement we should on a daily basis,” Jong said. “Until we do, we must accept and participate to promote relevancy and visibility so women can be appreciated and celebrated daily.”



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