2023 Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Newsletter

Message from the Program Director
Program Spotlights

Program Kudos
Alumni Class Notes

Message from the Program Director

Ashwini Tambe

Hello, wonderful Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies alumni,

Happy 50th birthday to all of us! Five decades ago, a group of determined faculty and students pressed George Washington University to create the first interdisciplinary master’s program in women’s studies in the country. Professor Ruth Osborn demonstrated to administrators the clear need for graduate education focused on women, and our program began enrolling its inaugural cohort in 1973. The program has grown from strength to strength since then, launching an MA in public policy with a concentration in women’s studies, adding an undergraduate major and minors in both women’s studies and LGBT studies and joint degrees with the law school. This past academic year, we welcomed the largest master’s cohort in our history, and we just hired a new tenure-track Assistant Professor of Black Feminist Studies, Dr. AK Wright. The journal Feminist Studies, the oldest interdisciplinary journal in our field, also moved to GW last year under my editorship.

The world that drove our forerunners to start our WGSS program at GW has certainly changed. Today, our graduates walk out into jobs where many employers and doctoral programs recognize a WGSS degree for the training it offers in critical thinking and risk-taking. Our graduates are valued for being experts in generating social change. I invite you—our alumni who have experienced the life-changing experience of women’s studies classes, books, and activism—to continue to help us as we turn toward our next 50 years. Your participation this past year has been invaluable—12 alumni joined us to share the stories of their career paths in nonprofit advocacy, democracy-promotion and academe (see photos below!). I hope you also enjoyed the lunch we organized on March 27 in honor of Cindy Deitch, and look forward to seeing you on April 14 at our 50th Anniversary Symposium and the alumni lunch, when we will celebrate Cindy and Dan Moshenberg as they retire. We want to continue to uphold you, our alums, as role models, for how you analyze and transform your worlds— whether as researchers, advocates, creative professionals, writers, healer or simply doers of all kinds!

I thank you for your financial and intellectual support—it truly helps us continue our program’s illustrious legacy. I invite you to go to our Support Us page to donate to us and to contribute to a new practicum award we are instituting in Cindy’s honor, offering financial help to students who otherwise cannot take on unpaid internships or volunteer opportunities.


Ashwini Tambe
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Director

 Back to top

Program Spotlights 

Professors Deitch and Moshenberg
Professor Daniel Moshenberg (left) and Professor Cynthia Deitch

Professors Deitch and Moshenberg Retiring

The WGSS program is deeply grateful for Professor Cynthia (Cindy) Deitch and Professor Daniel Moshenberg, both of whom are retiring this year, for their contributions to the program, and invites you to join us in celebrating them at our lunch on April 14 after the 50th WGSS Anniversary Directors’ Panel. We will offer alumni opportunities to publicly share their appreciation.


About Cynthia Deitch

Professor Cynthia (Cindy) Deitch has been a WGSS faculty member for 33 years. A valued administrator, she has served as associate director since 1996, and also stepped in as interim director on several occasions. She has been the anchor of our WGSS MA policy degree, taught core courses and research methods at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and launched our signature practicum course connecting students to professionals in the field. As advisor for the public policy MA degree and graduate certificate program, she has worked tirelessly to formalize her institutional knowledge to ensure that the program continues to flourish.

About Daniel Moshenberg

Professor Daniel Moshenberg’s appointment in WGSS began in 2003 and he served as program director from 2004 to 2015. He has helped round out our program’s emphases by adding heft to our humanities and theory offerings. He oversaw the launch of the LGBT minor in 2011 and taught popular courses with a strong global focus both at the undergraduate and graduate level, including Global Feminisms, Global Women’s Prison and Global Domestic Labor. His popular Introduction to WGSS and Varieties of Feminist Theory courses have helped spark student interest in majoring or minoring in WGSS.


A collage of headshots of WGSS panelists from 2022

50th Anniversary Events Spotlight WGSS Alumni

The WGSS program has presented a great line-up of events to celebrate our 50th anniversary. In fall 2022, we featured a stellar cast of 12 WGSS alumni at four events describing different career paths. In spring 2023, our events featured prominent scholarly and activist figures. Read on for details.


2022 Events
  • September 2022: Academic PhD Paths Beyond the WGSS Degree
    Recent Alumni Sarah-Anne Gresham, MA ’20, Walker Brewer, MA ’21, Tatiana Ruiz MA ’21 and Ashley Atilano, BA ’19, shared their current experiences in doctoral programs and how their GW MA training helped them.
  • October 2022: Careers in Gender and Representation
    Sharon Rogers, MA ’96, and Priya Purandare, MA ’09, described their work advocating for the needs of gender/racial minorities within large national and international organizations. 
  • November 2022: Elections, Democracy, and Gender
    Kate Black, MA ’10, and Gina Chirillo, MA ’17, described their work promoting voting rights and women’s electoral representation via organizations focused on promoting democracy. Both speakers also offered advice on managing job stress.
  • November 2022: Careers in Academe
    Dr. Cricket Keating, MA ’95, associate professor at the University of Washington-Seattle; Dr. Heather Berg, MA ’11, assistant professor at Washington University-St. Louis; Dr. Emerald Christopher-Byrd, MA ’11, assistant professor at the University of Delaware; and Dr. Melinda Chateauvert, MA ’86, author of Sex Workers Unite! A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk, each explained how their training at GW launched their careers as professors and allowed them to combine their activist and intellectual commitments.
2023 Events
  • February 2023: Gender, Violence, and the Geopolitics of Feminism 
    Lila Abu-Lughod (Columbia University) and Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (Queen Mary School of Law, London), shared cautions about how campaigns against gender-based violence have been institutionalized in ways that serve the carceral state.
  • March 2023: What’s Next?: The Future of Reproductive Justice and Church and State Separation
    In honor of International Women’s Day, WGSS major Evelyn Boateng-Ade moderated a virtual event featuring Alicia Johnson (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) and Jeryl Hayes (Lawyering for Reproductive Justice), speaking about next steps in addressing urgent issues in reproductive justice.
  • On March 27, we celebrated Professor Cynthia Deitch as the inaugural recipient of a CCAS award for contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Coming up on Friday, April 14 from 10-2, our 50th Anniversary Symposium will feature two panels: (1) 10 am: State of the Field, featuring Clare Hemmings (London School of Economics) and Jennifer Nash (Duke University) and (2) 11:45 am: Celebrating 50 Years of WGSS: Directors Reminisce (featuring Dan Moshenberg, Cynthia Deitch, Kavita Daiya, Nemata Blyden, Jen Nash, Barbara Miller and Ashwini Tambe. An alumni lunch will follow, featuring an open mic! We are still accepting virtual registration for both panels.

 Back to top

Program Kudos

WGSS faculty celebrated many scholarly accomplishments this academic year:

  • In September 2022, Professors Jameta Barlow, Ivy Ken and Ashwini Tambe presented their work at the GW Equity Institute Initiative Research Showcase. Professor Barlow spoke about Writehealing, a collaboration with D.C. community partners to promote mental health via writing. Professor Ken spoke about new fieldwork focused on race and immigration in rural meatpacking. Professor Tambe reflected on the relationship between #MeToo in the United States and other parts of the globe.
  • Professor Barlow also appeared at a Brookings Institution event and in the video “Making behavioral health work,” a part of an USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy event. In March 2023, she was interviewed on the Dr. Robin Show to share her inspiring story and how she transformed adversity into purpose and power.
  • In 2022, Professor Ken was awarded the 2022 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Article Award from the American Sociological Association, Race, Gender, and Class Section. Her recent publications include herself and WGSS alumna Allison Suppan Helmuth, MA ’13, “The Memphis School,” in Routledge Companion to Intersectionality, edited by Jennifer C. Nash and Samantha Pinto (2023); and Professor and Kenneth Sebastian León, “Regulatory Theater in the Pork Industry: How the Capitalist State Harms Workers, Farmers, and Unions.” Crime, Law, and Social Change, special issue on Food Crimes (online February 7, 2022).
  • An interview with Professor Tambe was published in Women’s Studies Quarterly in Nov 2022. Professor Tambe also published a book review in the Journal of History of Childhood and Youth in June 2022. Professor Tambe presented a talk about #MeToo at the Law and Society Association in Lisbon in July 2022, and also gave an invited talk on the history of legal access to divorce in colonial India at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru. Professor Tambe’s June 2022 op-ed, “Reasons Why The Minimum Age for Purchasing Assault Weapons Does Not Make Sense,” was published in multiple newspapers around the country and then anthologized in an edited volume by Johns Hopkins Press titled The Conversation on Guns (Nov 2023). The journal Feminist Studies also celebrated its 50th anniversary issue under Professor Tambe’s editorial directorship.
  • In March 2023, Professors Barlow, Tambe and Sabrina Curtis presented “Pasts and Futures of Critical Girlhood Studies,” the culminating plenary of The Girl in Theory: Toward a Critical Girlhood Studies symposium hosted by Rutgers University.
  • Professor Curtis also presented a paper at the National Women’s Studies Association titled “Teaching to Transgress: Creating Pathways for Black Girl Freedom, Inquiry, and Belonging,” exploring how Black girls enact their civic identities.
  • Professor Kavita Daiya received the CCAS “Award for Excellence in Graduate Faculty Mentoring” in recognition of glowing nominations she received from graduate students. Professor Daiya also moderated a panel at the National Women’s Studies Association conference called “Transnational Medical Inequity: Healthcare, Rights, and Vulnerabilities.” Professor Daiya presented her new research for her third book in progress at the American Studies Association’s annual conference last fall, Rethinking Equity, Intersectionality, and Caste in Dalit-American Life-Writing.
  • Professor Cynthia Deitch is the 2023 inaugural recipient of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences award honoring women who have contributed to diversity, equity, and inclusion at GW. Professor Deitch also presented her paper “Challenging Sexual Abuse in Immigrant Workplaces” at the Winter 2023 Sociologist for Women in Society meeting.
  • In November 2022, Professor Sara Matthiesen’s Reproduction Reconceived was awarded the Sara A. Whaley Prize for the best monograph on gender and labor from the National Women’s Studies Association. Professor Matthiesen is currently at work on a second project that traces the persistence of “self-managed” or home abortion practices after Roe. Also, in 2022, Professor Matthiesen was awarded the Kenny Prize recognizing faculty whose teaching has encouraged students to think differently.
  • Professor Eiko Strader presented her paper “The Macrosociology of Paid Domestic Labor Revisited: Globalization of Domestic Work and Differences in Earnings among Native-Born Women” at Cornell University. In February 2023, Professor Strader was selected as Work and Family Researchers Network’s faculty spotlight for contributions to understanding work-family concerns. Professor Strader’s co-authored editorial “Beyond social equity: Talking social justice in public administration.” was published in Public Administration. She was also quoted by The Washington Post in the article “Women are dancing in solidarity with Finnish PM Sanna Marin.”

 Back to top

Alumni Class Notes

  • Dawne Deppe, MA ’97, monitors and evaluates U.S. government humanitarian aid in Somalia for Integrity Global. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Jamie Diamond, BA ’16, works for the communications team at Hebrew Union College in New York City. Her women’s studies education prepared her for reviewing content critically and engaging with a diverse constituency.
  • Natasha Dupee, BA ’12, is a D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. In 2022, she joined the GW Alumni Association Executive Committee, moderated a panel at the Reykjavik Global Forum, and completed a Barbara Jordan and Dolores Huerta Fellowship with People for the American Way.
  • Nancy Fingerhood, BA ’92, helped to found The National Safe Parents Organization in 2022. The organization supports Kayden’s Law, which makes child safety the primary concern in custody disputes. The provision is in the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Samah Sisay, BA ’15, is an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights where she specializes in international human rights and challenging inhumane immigration policies and abusive police practices.
  • Leslie Smith, MA ’79, spent years with women’s business organizations in D.C. and New York before moving to development and alumni work for universities and independent schools. She retired in 2016.
  • McKinley Tretler, BA ’15, is the associate director, public relations at Malala Fund, a girls’ education nonprofit founded by Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. She works to amplify the experiences of young women and education activists around the world.

Back to top