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Feminists bring multigenerational perspective to reopen dialogue

October 06, 2009

What is the unfinished work of feminist social change? How do we each come to feminism? Where do men fit into the whole equation? How do you teach the next generation about the power of a movement? Those questions and others will be addressed by an intergenerational panel – "WomenGirlsLadies" – during this year's Feldt/Barbanell Women of the World Lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Arizona State University.

The program – "Changing the World: Feminism in Action Generation to Generation" – will be held in the Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom, on ASU's Tempe campus. The event, presented by women and gender studies in ASU's School of Social Transformation, is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gloria Feldt, Maria Teresa Kumar, Courtney Martin and Brittany Collins – four diverse, feminist authors and activists representing generations from Generation Y to pre-Baby Boomer – will open an interactive conversation with the audience with personal accounts of their feminist activities. They'll recall their first memories as feminist activists, as well as their most elating – and disappointing – experiences.

"This year's Feldt/Barbanell Women of the World Lecture promises to reopen a dialogue about women's lives and the future of feminism. The panel of distinguished feminists includes an ASU student and an ASU professor of practice," says Mary Margaret Fonow, a professor of women and gender studies and founding director of the new School of Social Transformation in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The lecture is one of many events planned throughout the year to celebrate the new school.

Panelist Feldt was a teen mother whose passion for reproductive justice led her to a 30-year career with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, culminating as its national president and CEO from 1996-2005. She is an author and expert in women's rights, health, politics and leadership where the personal and political meet. Feldt's 2007 book co-written with Kathleen Turner, "Send Yourself Roses," was a New York Times best seller. Her previous books are "The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back" and "Behind Every Choice Is a Story." She is at work on a book about women's relationship with power to be published by Seal Press in 2010.

Feldt has appeared on "Hardball," "O'Reilly," "Today," "Good Morning America," "The Daily Show" and "Lehrer News Hour." Her commentary has been published in the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, Elle, Salon, Women's e-News and Alternet. Glamour honored her as Woman of the Year and Vanity Fair named her to its "Top 200 Women Leaders, Legends, and Trailblazers." She serves on the Women's Media Center and Jewish Women's Archive boards, the Our Bodies, Ourselves advisory board, and is a fellow of the International Leadership Forum. Feldt is a professor of practice at ASU where she teaches "Women, Power and Leadership." She also writes three blogs: Heartfeldt Politics, Courageous Leadership and Powered Women, online at

Panelist Kumar was named by Hispanic Magazine as one of the top Latinas in Government and Politics. She is the founding executive director of Voto Latino, a leading national civic engagement organization targeting acculturated American Latino youth. In the 2008 presidential election, Voto Latino leveraged social media and celebrity participation in five battleground states, all of which saw Latino voter participation increase 5 percent or more above the national average. Kumar started her career as a legislative aide for former democratic caucus chairman Vic Fazio managing international trade issues and appropriations. She's counseled Fortune 500 companies on political strategy and recently co-founded FastFWD Group, a boutique social media strategy firm. She is a regular commentator for MSNBC.

Kumar is an Ambassador Swanee Hunt Prime Mover Fellow, a Women's Media Center Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy International Affairs Fellow. She is a recipient of numerous leadership awards including ones from The White House Project, Imagen Foundation and the New York Legislature. This year, Washington Life magazine featured Kumar on the cover of their issue highlighting the most influential Washingtonians under 40. She serves as a founding board member for both the Latino Leaders Network and Poder PAC. Kumar received a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of California at Davis.

Martin, the award-winning author of "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women," is also on the panel. Her book was called "a hardcover punch in the gut" by Arianna Huffington and "a smart and spirited rant that makes for thought-provoking reading" by the New York Times. She is a widely-read freelance journalist and regular blogger for Feministing.

Martin is a senior correspondent for The American Prospect Online and her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Newsweek and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. With AIDS activist Marvelyn Brown, Martin co-wrote Brown's life story in the book "The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive." Martin is at work on a book for Beacon Press about 10 people younger than 35 who are creating innovative social change. She was awarded the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics in 2002 and is the youngest woman to ever be awarded a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy. Additional information is at

Collins, the youngest member of the panel, is an early-graduating senior at ASU where she majors in women and gender studies. In addition to a bachelor's degree at graduation, Collins will receive a certificate in Arabic studies. A Dean's Scholar, Collins was awarded the 2009 Critical Language Scholarship for an intensive summer of Arabic study in Amman, Jordan, for her distinguished academic career and dedication to educating and promoting tolerance. She also plays for the women's rugby football club at ASU.

After the lecture, the dialogue continues on the "WomenGirlsLadies" blog at According to Feldt, the blog offers a fresh conversation among intergenerational feminists about all that matters: power, work, sex, motherhood, pop culture, the future, and everything in between.

The annual Feldt/Barbanell Women of the World Lecture was established in 2002 by Feldt and Alex Barbanell to bring to Arizona State University prominent individuals to address issues of a global nature and their effects on women. Barbanell, a retired insurance executive, is an ASU History Department alumnus.

Previous speakers were Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Nafis Sadik, Kathleen Turner and Eve Ensler.

Additional information about the lecture is available at or 480-965-2358. Online maps of Tempe campus parking are available at