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November 18, 2002

Women's Center 10th anniversary gala set for Dec. 4

By Stephanie Sonnenfeld

The Emory Women’s Center (EWC) will celebrate its 10th anniversary with “Wine, Women & Song”—a gala event honoring its past, present and future on Dec. 4 at Miller-Ward Alumni House.

Like the name implies, the event will be full of entertainment, featuring the musical stylings of gospel trio D’Vine (member Paula Saunders is an Emory Hospital employee) and pianist Tina Lu, an Emory College senior. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and cost is $15 for faculty, staff and alumni; $5 for students; $20 for the public. Reservations will be accepted until Wednesday, Nov. 27.

“We wanted to celebrate,” said Ali Crown, who has been EWC director since the center’s inception. “We didn’t see this as a time for a speaker, but a time for music.”

All women at Emory are invited to submit photographs of a woman who has influenced their lives, and all photos will be complied into a video presentation during the gala. Addition-ally, the event will honor former President James Laney, under whose leadership the EWC was established.

“We wanted to acknowledge [his] place in our history, which is part of Emory’s history,” said Crown, an Emory College alumna who has worked at the university since 1980. “We felt it important to honor him for his vision to establish the EWC.”

Celebrating the center’s anniversary hasn’t been and won’t be limited to the gala. In October, EWC hosted “Conver-sations With Six Notable Emory Women,” a program featuring a cross-section of faculty, staff and students discussing their experiences at Emory and was moderated by anniversary celebration co-chairs Patti Owen-Smith, Oxford psychology professor, and Paula Washington, ‘95G.

In the spring, there will be an exhibit at Woodruff Library’s Schatten Gallery highlighting women’s lives at Emory through photographs from Special Collections. In addition to commemorating the EWC’s anniversary, the exhibits also will mark the 50th anniversary of co-education at Emory.

While photographs and stories can document the EWC’s history on campus, its wide array of programs and services continue to further its mission of existing “for, through and because of all Emory women.”

“Some of the women’s centers at other universities are very student-focused,” said Jan Gleason, associate vice president for public affairs and chair of the original EWC director
search committee. “This one was designed to serve all women at Emory.”

When searching for an EWC director, it was essential to find someone who could build bridges connecting the faculty, staff and students. “Ali figured out early on that to be successful at Emory, it’s about making connections and collaborating with other groups,” Gleason added.

Those connections and collaborations have paid off for the center and have helped establish the programs that have become the EWC’s hallmark. All programs and EWC-related activities are created and managed by Crown and special program assistant Jenny Williams, along with four student assistants, six student volunteers and 13 members of the center’s advisory board.

The list of programs and resources originated or sponsored by EWC is long and varied. They include: Healthy Women 2000, a monthly lunchtime series focused on women’s health issues; Life 101, a seminar series designed specifically to support college women; a 3,000-volume library focused on women’s issues; massage therapy; and a nursing nest for breast-feeding mothers.

The EWC isn’t a base for just its own programs, either. Groups such as the National Black Herstory Task Force and the Emory Muslim Women’s Literary Society meet for regular meetings at the center.

Throughout its time on campus, EWC has initiated several programs that have become
“signature events,” including the Mary Lynn Morgan Annual Lectureship on Women in the Health Professions, “Telling Our Stories,” the Unsung Heroine Awards, Women Writers of Genre Fiction lecture and the campus Women’s History Month celebrations.

“We started with a five-year plan put together by an advisory group appointed by President Laney,” Crown said. “We surpassed the goals of the first three years after a little more than a year in terms of programs and constituents. We met the goals of the first five at the end of three, but there is much more to be done.”

With 10 years behind it, EWC supporters are working toward meeting the center’s goals for its next 10 years. Topping the list is doubling the size of full time EWC staff and finding permanent space. Since it first opened, EWC has been housed in a 1,600-square-foot modular unit behind Dobbs Center, next to the Emory Computer Store.

EWC’s infrastructure has not kept up with growth of the overall center in the last decade, Crown said. “We want to see that fixed. As I said, our work is not over.”

Armed with a list of goals and aspirations, the future of the EWC has much to hold.

“[EWC] has secured for women at Emory a locus of activity and a haven for thought and respite,” said President Bill Chace. “I am inspired by its past, but I am more interested in opening up its future than in idolizing its achievements. For such a place, the years that will really count are all in the future.”

To make a reservation for the gala or for more information about EWC programs or resources, call 404-727-2000 or e-mail