WSU selects Gov. Gregoire as Woman of the Year

PULLMAN -When Washington State University set about selecting a woman to receive its Woman of the Year Award, it went right to the top—the top of Washington State government, that is. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire will be in Pullman, March 28, to receive the university’s Woman of the Year Award during a recognition luncheon in Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. The luncheon begins at 11:15 a.m.

Gregoire was nominated based upon her record of supporting issues that are close to the heart of many women—early childhood education, increasing the quality of math and science learning, affordable health care, creation of more high-paying jobs and promotion of community empowerment.

“There were certainly many noteworthy nominations for this award,” said Selection Committee Chairwoman Kathleen Hagen. “But the Governor’s impact on these issues coupled with the perseverance and passion with which she addresses them tipped the scales in her favor.”

Her nominator wrote, “Although this work is in essence part of her position as governor, the fact that she chooses these particular issues signifies her commitment to women’s empowerment.”

Gregoire and five women of distinction will be recognized at the luncheon.

They were selected for distinguishing themselves in their careers, going beyond their job descriptions to contribute to the personal growth and success of others, creating positive social change, increasing equality for all and building community through service.

“It was so inspiring and somewhat intimidating to read about the many accomplishments of these women,” Hagen said. “I am truly amazed they are able to do everything that they do.”

Jean Johnson – Faculty
This year’s faculty recipient for the Women of Distinction Award is Jean Johnson. Johnson came to WSU in 1990 and is a professor in WSU’s Department of Marketing. She has authored more than 70 research articles, book chapters and scholarly presentations and received the Teaching Innovation Grant. She has chaired the marketing field’s premier conference, the American Marketing Association’s Winter Educators’ Meeting, and has been actively involved with the Institute for the Study of Business Markets which links researchers to companies around the world.

Johnson was recognized by the College of Business in 2006 for her outstanding scholarship and service and was awarded the prestigious Gardner O. Hart Distinguished Professorship. She is actively involved with the WSU Association for Faculty Women—serving as president during 2005-2006. Johnson has served on numerous committees and task forces over the years—many of which advance issues important to women such as daycare provision, salary equity and the prevention of sexual harassment.

Johnson’s nominator wrote, “Through her scholarship, service, and mentorship, Dr. Johnson has forged a path for her female students as well as women across the university and the (marketing) discipline. I will certainly strive to chart the course of my own career to follow her exceptional lead.”

Tori Byington – Faculty
Tori Byington is also a recipient for this year’s Women of Distinction Award.  Byington currently holds a faculty appointment as an enrollment and policy analyst for WSU’s Graduate School. She received a doctoral degree from WSU in Interdisciplinary Studies in the spring of 2006. Her doctoral research, funded in part by a NSF Dissertation Enhancement Grant, examined the effect of mentoring and organization context on men’s and women’s intentions to seek advanced degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

In addition to her position in the Graduate School, she is faculty advisor for the Psi Chapter of Graduate Women in Science and an active member of the American Sociological Association, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Sociologists for Women Society. At WSU, she is active in the Queer Alliance, of which she is the founder and chair, and GRACe—a group advocating Gendering Research Across the Campuses. She is also an ex-officio member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Byington has served in many leadership positions over the years at WSU and the broader Pullman community including president of the WSU Staff Senate, chair of the Pullman Human Rights Commission and the interim director of WSU’s Gender/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. Currently, she is serving on WSU’s Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Accreditation Steering Committee and co-chairs a sub-committee for the accreditation review. In 2002 she was responsible for creating the exhibit called “Women at WSU: Celebrating a Century of Graduate Education” after receiving a grant from the Association of Faculty Women. Her nominator wrote, “Tori has operated in nearly all of these positions outside her role as an employee—and she does it for the ultimate goal of producing a climate of integrity, diversity and equity. The creation of an open, safe and welcoming environment is the common thread seen throughout all of Tori’s activities.”

Andrea Hall – Student
This year’s student recipient for the Women of Distinction Award is Andrea Hall. Hall is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Mission, Ore. After working for the tribal health department for nearly 10 years, she came to WSU in 2004 with her two children, Peyton (now eight years old) and Kaeleh (now three years old), to finish her degree. She will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies.

Last spring Hall was selected among 300 students nationally for a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Congressional Internship. The Internship took place in Washington, D.C. last summer.

At WSU, Hall serves as a student mentor in the Native American Student Center; and in 2005, she was elected by her peers to chair WSU’s Coalition for Women Students (CWS). She is currently serving a second term as chair of CWS. After graduating in May, she plans to earn a master’s degree in Public Health Policy and pursue a career in health care administration.

Her nominator wrote, “She consistently maintains a solid GPA and has shown a remarkable ability to balance the rigors of academic life, the responsibilities that come along with being a student leader, while maintaining her focus on achieving her own personal goals. These abilities, coupled with an ‘I can do it’ attitude and genuine compassion for Native people, are a great formula for leadership.”

Jeanne Eder – Alumna
The WSU alumna recipient for this year’s Women of Distinction Award is Jeanne Eder. Eder received her doctorate degree in American and Public History from WSU in 2000. Currently she is an associate professor in the History Department at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Eder was born and raised on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana and is an enrolled member in both the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. She is the author of two children’s books—The History of the Dakota Sioux and The History of the Makah. She co-authored “American Indian Education: A History” published in 2004.

Eder is well-known for performing historically accurate impersonations of three leading American Indian women—Waheenee (Buffalo Bird Woman, Hidatsa), Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin, Dakota Sioux), and Sacajawea (Bird Woman, Lemhi Shoshoni). She was appointed to the first National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Planning Council in 1994 and successfully advocated for calling the Bicentennial a commemoration instead of a celebration. Because of her strong voice, she was also consulted to help shape the more recent Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration.

Her nomin
ator wrote, “Both in her presentation and in answering questions, as one audience member put it, Jeanne becomes these characters and takes you into another time. Then she takes off her wig and stands forward as Dr. Jeanne Eder, historian, explaining and answering questions about the materials she used to create her historically accurate characters. In all cases, she shows us the world through the eyes of American Indian women.”

Mary Wyer – Outside of WSU
This year’s outside of WSU recipient for the Women of Distinction Award is Mary Wyer. Wyer is an assistant professor in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at North Carolina State University. She is also the director of the Women in Science and Engineering Project (WISE) at NCSU. The purpose of the Project is to develop “two-way streets” between women’s studies and science and engineering faculty who are committed to addressing the under-representation of women and people of color in their fields. Project participants have produced a major textbook to provide an introduction to feminist science studies and present their work nationally at conferences.

Wyer earned her bachelor’s degree in English at WSU in 1973. After working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she returned to WSU in 1977 to become Outreach Coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center. It was during her first year in this position that she began creating the Women’s Transit Program. She solicited a CB radio and antennae from the Pullman Jaycees and the WSU Police Department donated office space and worked with her to get a car on the road beginning in 1978. Today more than 150 people volunteer time every semester and the program provides more than 12,000 rides a year.

Her nominator wrote, “Dr. Wyer’s efforts continue to benefit numerous women and men in our community as Women’s Transit realizes its goal of reducing the risk of sexual assault by providing safe, accessible, door-to-door transportation for women who would otherwise have to walk alone after dark. In addition, Women’s Transit is a highly successful community service program that provides valuable team building and leadership development for its many volunteers.”

Approximately 400 people are expected to participate in the recognition luncheon. No tickets remain. Questions about the event can be directed to Alice Coil, Director of WSU’s Women’s Resource Center at (509) 335-6849.

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