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February 19, 2001

Unsung Heroines honored
by full house

By Stephanie Sonnenfeld

The Miller-Ward Alumni House played host for the first time to the annual Unsung Heroines awards, held Feb. 13 and sponsored by the Women’s Center.

The facility’s Governor’s Hall was filled to capacity as an assorted group of Emory community members gathered to salute the ceremony’s four honorees: Aida Sued-Dominquez (undergraduate); Shirley Banks (staff); Brenda Bynum (faculty); and Beth Sufian ’87C, the first ever alumna recipient.

Veteran television journalist Steen Miles served as the event's guest speaker and used her speech as an opportunity to not only praise the award recipients, but to speak of 19th century’s “heroines.”

The Emmy-winning former WXIA 11Alive reporter spoke of Hallie Quinn Brown, a daughter of freed slaves who became an American educator and elocutionist and who pioneered the movement for African American women’s clubs. Miles asked the crowd if anyone had ever heard of Margaret Knight, who was hailed as a “female Edison” at her death or if they knew of Elizabeth Dwight Cabot, a tireless community volunteer in Boston.

The women were unknown to the crowd, unsung like many women, Miles alluded.

“Wouldn’t it be great if channels 2, 5 and 11 were here to-night honoring these women?” she said of the award winners. “Will they make the headlines? Will they make the news? Probably not.”

“History may never record what these women have done,” she continued. “But perhaps in future years, some young woman will have been inspired by Brenda; some young woman will have been inspired by Aida; some young woman will have been inspired by Shirley and Beth, and by the works that have been done here and at the Women’s Center.”

Sued-Dominquez, an Emory College senior, was nominated by Jasmine Williams and Tricia Anbinder of the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center. She began her involvement in the Emory community as a student at Oxford, where she was vice president of Revision, a women’s organization there. Sued-Dominquez volunteers in several capacities at the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center and is one of the organization’s few fluent Spanish speakers, helping bridge a gap between Spanish-speaking rape victims and the proper help. She also serves as a Women’s Center volunteer and board member.

Williams and Anbinder also nominated Banks for this year’s staff honoree. Since she began working at Emory in 1996, Banks has been known for her dedication to the University Health Services. She started Emory’s anonymous testing program, which offers confidential testing for sexually transmitted diseases and counseling. In 1998, she became a health educator, and now averages 650 patient consultations per year. Banks also trains peer educators and volunteers at the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center and the Women’s Center.

Bynum, nominated by graduate school research associate Lois Overbeck, has been a fixture on Emory’s campus for almost 20 years, both on the stage and in the classroom. In addition to her duties as a lecturer in the theater arts department, she’s is also a resident actor and director for Theater Emory. She has directed many productions of Samuel Beckett’s plays, has helped educate middle school students about AIDS through theater, has brought the working women of Cabbagetown to life through the theater and has been a part of the Vagina Monologues. Bynum also volunteers at the Women’s Center.

The final honoree, Sufian began her “career” in law at the age of 11, when she helped her mother volunteer at an organization that gave free legal advice to victims of domestic abuse. During her time at Emory, Sufian volunteered at Egleston Children’s Hospital to help with children who had cystic fibrosis, which she also has.

As a law student in Texas, she volunteered as a lawyer to children in foster care. Sufian eventually founded her own law firm in Houston, that focuses on representing individuals with disabilities. She also continues to work with young girls who have cystic fibrosis.


Back to Emory Report Feb. 19, 2001