University News

Suffrage Panel Discussion Feb. 15

February 7, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- In honor of suffragist Susan B. Anthony's birthday, the Western Illinois University Women's Center and the Macomb Feminist Network (MFN) will sponsor the panel discussion, "From Suffrage to Women in Elected Office," from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 in the Sherman Hall third floor auditorium. A reception will immediately follow. The program is open free to the public.

Panelists include Illinois Rep. and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie; McDonough County Board member and Finance Committee Chair Alice Henry; and Illinois Appellate Court Judge Vicki Wright. Janna Deitz, WIU assistant professor of political science and MFN member, will serve as moderator.

The panelists will discuss such topics as why they decided to run for public office; the challenges they faced in their campaigns and in office because of their gender; strategies to help other women succeed in public office; and how individuals and organizations can support female candidates.

Flynn Currie, first elected in 1978, represents Illinois' 25th District, which includes parts of the communities of South Chicago, South Shore, Woodlawn, Hyde Park and Kenwood. She has sponsored such programs as the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and preschool services for disadvantaged youngsters. She worked successfully in Springfield to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace and to strengthen access to state contracts for businesses owned by women and members of minority groups.

Henry, who has lived in Macomb for 35 years, hold a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in biological sciences, as well as a bachelor's degree in dietetics, all from Western. She served as a registered dietitian at McDonough District Hospital (MDH) for 19 years. Prior to her retirement in June 2006, she was director of food/nutrition services at MDH. She was appointed to the McDonough County Board in May 2004, and in June 2006, she was appointed chair of the Finance Committee. In November 2006 she was re-elected to a four-year term.

Wright was elected to the Appellate Court Third Judicial District in November 2006. In 1991, she was appointed as the first woman to serve as an associate circuit court judge in the 14th Judicial Circuit Court. Prior to her appointment as associate judge, Wright was an assistant state's attorney in Whiteside County (IL) for seven years where she concentrated in the prosecution of sex offenders, specializing in child abuse and sexual assault prosecutions. She has also conducted criminal appeals for the Appellate Service Commission in Ottawa (IL).

Deitz, who has taught in the political science department at Western since Fall 2003, has taught American government and politics, the presidency, political campaigns and elections, voting behavior and public opinion and legislative process. Her research interests include Congressional elections, legislative politics, campaign finance and women in politics.

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