Index - February/March, 2014

Rula Quawas and her Weapon of the Mind
by Elayne Clift

Rula Quawas — A Jordanian Fulbright scholar talks about the Arab Spring, silencing women, and what gives her hope… Photo: Jan Doerler

She earned her B.A. from the University of Jordan and, encouraged to believe that she had a right to speak her mind, Quawas chose to do her graduate work in Scotland and the U.S. She says she fell in love with women writers, and discovered a passion for teaching. She earned a Ph.D. in American literature and feminist theory from the University of North Texas, and in 1996 returned home to begin teaching a wide array of undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Jordan.

Currently, Professor of American Literature and Feminist Theory, she was the first to teach courses in her fields of study in the university’s English department. She teaches Arab feminism and contemporary Arab women writers in translation to international students and founded the Women’s Studies Center in 2006, where she was director for two years.

Now a Fulbright scholar in Vermont, in conjunction with Champlain College in Burlington, Quawas has introduced “global module courses” aimed at connecting students from East and West. She is the co-author of a textbook on communication, and author of a book on Jordan women writers, and another on international communication. Her intercultural studies are intended to bridge differences between young people in the East and West and teach diversity.

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Publisher's Message: Laura Twitchell’s Legacy
by Suzanne Gillis  

In this issue, I am proud to have commissioned historian Cyndy Bittinger’s excellent feature on Vermont’s early reproductive rights and Vermont women’s successful decriminalization of abortion. That story includes the important role of Laura Twitchell.

Sometimes it takes just one person to kick start us in an entirely new direction, and Laura was that woman. What is it that makes one person step up, when another chooses to step back?

Reproductive rights and free choices for women is an issue that has been and still is so much a part of the times of our lives. And it is so critical that young women and girls—and young men--learn this history, and the way that one person’s actions can change the course of history.

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Lt. Angela Lakey:
The Vermont Guard’s Response to Sexual Assault within the Ranks
by Suzanne Gillis

Lieutenant Angela Lakey — Photo: Jan Doerler

Sexual assault within the military was much in the national news in 2013, but Vermont Woman wanted a closer, local look. In late October 2013, I was checked through the Vermont National Guard Camp Johnson gate in Colchester, Vermont. Finally, I was on my way to conduct an exclusive interview with Lieutenant Angela Lakey, a clearance that took Vermont Woman months to get.

Lakey had been appointed to head the Vermont Air and Army Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPRP), serving as Vermont’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) in early 2011. She is only the second person to ever hold this new position.

The Green Mountain Armory was packed with Vermont Guard members on this particular day, present for their annual physicals. As I made my way down the long hallway on the second floor, I was cheerily greeted by men and women in military dress; clearly I was outside the military culture, a visitor, and visible as one.

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#5 Vermont Woman Special Series: Green Mountain Care Board Profiles
Nurse Betty Rambur's Bottom Line for Green Mountain Care Board
by Roberta Nubile

Dr. Betty Rambur was appointed to the Green Mountain Care Board in October, 2013, by Gov. Peter Shumlin as the first member to bring a nursing perspective to health care reform.
Photo by Jan Doerler

Betty Rambur is the newest representative of the five-member Green Mountain Care Board, created in 2011 as part of Act 48. Board members are charged with delivery of a reformed single-payer health care system by 2017. Rambur is the board’s first and only nurse.

It was friends who urged her to apply, she recently told Vermont Woman. The opening on the board wasn’t on her radar; it was summer and she was gestating ideas to simplify health economics for her students. During the school year, she was a health policy and nursing professor, a researcher at the University of Vermont. She served on boards and committees at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

It made sense, with her long history of involvement and interest in health financing reform. That the board did not yet have a nurse made the fit feel right for Rambur. She applied just before deadline, and got the job.

“As a nurse, I feel I have a particular responsibility to the public,” she says. “Nurses have the opportunity to see things that are not always visible to policy makers or other providers. Nurses are often the connection between the patient and the health systems. Nurses are everywhere in the system, and have a particular, up-close vantage point.”

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Vermont Woman's Special Series: Green Mountain Care Board Profiles

  1. Anya Rader Wallach - Vermont Healthcare Reform: Guiding One Big Elephant!
    by Roberta Nubile, April/May 2013

  2. Con Hogan - Seasoned Elder of Green Mountain Care Board
    by Roberta Nubile, June/July/August 2013

  3. Al Gobeille - The Voice of Business in “Health Connect”
    by Roberta Nubile, September/October 2013

  4. Drs. Karen Hein and Allan Ramsay - Is there a Doctor in the House? YES, Two!
    by Roberta Nubile, November/December 2013

  5. Nurse Betty Rambur’s Bottom Line for Green Mountain Care Board
    by Roberta Nubile, February/March, 2014

Kathleen Keenan – Central Vermont’s Favorite Drama Queen
by Bronwyn Fryer

Kathleen Keenan starring in Bad Dates.
photo: Stefan Hard, Times Argus

You and I all know women who are solid soul. Women who stand for something. Women whose work you look at and think: “You were definitely put on this planet for one very big reason.”

At first glance, Kathleen Keenan would not strike you as such a woman, because she’s no Queen Latifah. Standing barely above 5 feet tall, she almost hides beneath her bountiful, curly, brown hair. Look into her almond-shaped green eyes, and you’ll see the impishness of someone who is much more interested in mime than in muscle. Ask her a direct, personal question about herself, and she’ll demur for a while, hem and haw, and finally cough up a tidbit.

But get her to work as a driving force behind a piece of amazing theater, or a poignant song, and watch as the waves part. This small, intense woman not only knows the power of theater—she is the power of theater.

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We Won’t Go Back
Vermont’s History to Legalize Abortion – 1972
by Cyndy Bittinger

Vermont was the second state to decriminalize abortion in 1972 — a year before Roe v. Wade made it legal nationwide.

I remember when abortion was an illegal and dangerous choice for single and married women who did not want a child. A college friend of mine arranged an abortion for a mutual friend through the nation’s first abortion referral center in Hampstead, N.Y. It was founded in 1963 by Bill Baird who witnessed the death of a mother of nine from a self-inflicted coat-hanger abortion. He and his wife Joni remain pro-choice advocates.

The recent film Philomena describes another common pre-Roe v. Wade option, enforced by cultural norms and religion: carrying the baby to term, and giving it up for adoption.

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