EOW Guests and Organziers

For the first HerStories program of 2011, there are new and returning faces! Dawn Comer and Mary Catherine Harper gave workshops last year and do so again at Embodying Our Words. Joining us for the first time are Lauren Spencer, Jerri Courtney, and Cindie Alwood! Please read on to learn more about EOW organizers and guests.

Guest Cindie Alwood (Feb. 18, 19) is co-founder and director of the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, a sponsor of EOW. She has over 20 years of experience working with women and women’s issues in a variety of settings as a counselor, director and advocate. Cindie holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University and a bachelor degree in Speech Pathology & Audiology from Western Michigan University. She provides personal and career counseling to women who are going through all types of life transitions including career changes and job loss. She also works with many women who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. Cindie is an active member on a number of local boards and committees that address women’s issues.

Co-organizer Dawn Comer received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Notre Dame. She currently teaches part-time at Defiance College and is writing two books: Raised in a Corn Palace: Stories from the National Association of Tourist Attraction Survivors, and Fella With an Umbrella: Discovering Joy on the Autism Spectrum. The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML) has awarded her with The Paul Somers Prize for Creative Prose for the story “Raised in a Corn Palace” (2008) and the memoir “Fella with an Umbrella: Finding Joy on the Autism Spectrum” (2009).

Guest Lauren Spencer (Feb. 18) is an activist and scholar who focuses on intersecting identities, the connections among systems of oppression, and LGBTQ communities of color. A self-described “Radical Anti-Racist Anti-Imperialist/Colonial Queer Lesbian Socialist Eco-Womanist Vegetarian,” Lauren is especially passionate about racial, economic and environmental justice and eradicating sexual violence. A proud alumnus of Michigan State University, having earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Relations & Policy from MSU’s James Madison College in 2010, Lauren currently serves as the Program Coordinator in MSU’s LBGT Resource Center. In this capacity, she leads the resource center’s efforts in engaging marginalized populations within the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ students of color, international students and students of faith.

Guest Mary Catherine Harper (Feb. 18, 19) is a professor at Defiance College in Ohio. Her poetry has been published in The New England Review, WomenWriters.net, The Bozeman Er, and Masque. She also has published articles on women’s science fiction in Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and FemSpec. She has completed a cross-media epistolary novel Letters to Christian Duval, which is set in Ohio and Iraq. Her interests in language arts, cultural studies, poetics, and social justice issues have taken her to Cambodia to work on a language arts and ethnography project, so she is currently writing poetry about her experiences in Cambodia.

Guest Jerri Courtney (Feb. 18, 19) – nee Geromina Catherine Ferrara – was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in that politically charged city and its nearby suburbs. She earned a B. A. in Social Work from Defiance College (Ohio) with special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies in Humanities and a Master of Liberal Studies Degree at the University of Toledo. Since 1991, Jerri has served as Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Defiance, teaching interdisciplinary courses. In addition to travel and photography, Jerri enjoys writing, studies in religion and spirituality, art, music, ,theater, and experimenting with new technologies. She is a member of SSML; advises Defiance College Stand, a chapter of the national student-led anti-genocide group; and also volunteers with Truth Academy, a reading and writing group for young girls.

Co-organizer Melissa Dey Hasbrook is a writer based in Lansing, Michigan. She began The HerStories Project in 2010 to celebrate stories about women, and in 2011 expands its scope to celebrate gender expression. Her poetry is significantly inspired by her homeland in the Great Lakes and North America, ancestral legacies, and the personal-political of everyday life. She is an alumnus of Michigan State University with studies in linguistics, community literacies, and pedagogy. Melissa’s community-based work focuses on creating spaces to explore word art and healing. Drawing upon past teaching experiences in literacy programs, college classrooms, and tutoring offices, she strives to celebrate the lives of everyone participating in her events.

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