A time-honored tradition, the Feminist of the Year Awards took place on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the annual GSFS/Chellis end-of-the-year fest in the backyard of Chellis House. These awards honor people who have made outstanding contributions to and shown great leadership in improving the status of women and/or fostering gender equity in the Middlebury College community. This year, 24 people were nominated: Marianne Anderson, Lily Andrews, Jeanne Bartlett, Luke Carroll Brown, Sally Caruso, Veronica Coates, Rebecca Coates-Finke, Andrew Catomeris, Rebecca Crochiere, Anna Flinchbaugh, Joanna Georgakas, Elli Itin, Maddie Orcutt, Jackie Park, Xhesika Pasholli, Alex Strott, Angie Walker, and Sade Williams in the student category; Shannon Bohler-Small, Barbara McCall, and Stacey Reardon in the staff category; and Suzanne Gurland, Harshita Kamath, and Roberto Lint Sagarena in the faculty category.
The jury had to make hard decisions and select among all the worthy nominees. In the end, Veronica Coates ’14, Jackie Park ’15, and Alex Strott ’14.5 won the Student Feminist of the Year Award. Veronica was chosen because of her long history in organizing and participating in feminist events on campus and for her “grounded non-judgmental presence even as she speaks hard truths in the classroom.” Jackie garnered the award for her tireless efforts to create a more inclusive community at Middlebury through student organizations such as Women of Color and the Queer Studies House and for “living out her passion for feminism every day.” Alex received the award because over the past two years she has made consistent efforts to integrate intersectional feminist topics into the campus conversation through the student organization Feminist Action at Middlebury by organizing events such as the poetry slam “Sister Outsider.” A resident and organizer at the Queer Studies House, Alex also is a trained MiddSafe advocate, serving as a resource for anybody who has been affected by sexual assault.
Shannon Bohler-Small garnered the Feminist of the Year Award in the staff category. Since she started working at Middlebury six years ago, Shanon has been the staff representative of Vermont Women in Higher Education. This organization aims to foster connections among women in various sectors of higher education and promotes women’s leadership. Shannon has made great efforts to encourage staff and faculty members to attend VWHE’s annual two-day conference and many participants have remarked on the useful and inspiring nature of the event.
Harshita Kamath from the Religion Department was chosen as the faculty Feminist of the Year. Harshita has been an energetic and central member of the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, playing major roles in organizing the feminist pedagogy workshop and the Gensler Symposium. Congratulations to all the nominees!