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Association for Faculty Women leeann.hunter

Kelly Ward

Dear Members,

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share news of the passing of AFW Member and Vice Provost Kelly Ward. She experienced a fatal head injury while out walking with her horse last week.

AFW will pay tribute to Kelly Ward at this upcoming Tuesday’s AFW event.

Kelly has regularly collaborated with AFW leadership since she became Vice Provost. I had the pleasure of going for a long walk with Kelly in May, in which our conversation seamlessly flowed between work and life, from the most pressing professional concerns to the most personal struggles. It was a brilliant testament to her range of investment in the complexity of women’s lives and careers. At the end of our walk, we sat down to business, and she presented me with a flood of ideas for elevating the status of faculty women at WSU through our combined efforts in AFW and the Provost’s Office.

Some of you may recall Kelly’s New Year’s Resolution, which she shared at the AFW Holiday party last December. In four words, she declared that she would smash the glass ceiling. As I witness the tributes to her on social media, I see that she has dedicated her life to recognizing and honoring the gifts she sees in other women. With countless numbers of women lifted and empowered by Kelly’s enthusiastic personal support and tenacious commitment to systemic change, I see, now, that she was already smashing glass ceilings—the ones that blocked the paths of her friends, colleagues, and all the women she represented.

My warmest condolences to all,

Leeann Hunter
President, Association for Faculty Women



Call for Nominations: Outstanding Graduate Students (2019-2020)

What is the nomination process?
  • Nominators: Mentors or faculty who work closely with the student.
  • Letters of support: Three letters of support are required, one of which is from the nominating faculty member.
  • To nominate a student:
    1. Download the Nomination Form and review criteria for specific awards. The Overview page provides additional background information about each award.
    2. Compile one completed nomination form (nominee and nominating faculty member together), all letters of support (three total), and any other supporting materials as one single PDF.
    3. The nominator should send the nomination electronically from a WSU email in a single pdf (including supporting letters) by 5:00 pm on Monday, March 2, 2020 to Kathleen Rodgers (
  • 2020 Nomination Form: Nomination form
Who is eligible?
  • Full- and part-time students in good standing are eligible. For more specific information, please see the Overview page
  • Students may be nominated for only one of these awards in each cycle.
  • Nominations are accepted up the deadline.
When is the award announced?
  • Awardees will be notified in late March and will receive their award at a special recognition ceremony, early evening on April 16 in the WSU Honors College Lounge. Specific information is forthcoming.

Thank you for supporting WSU Graduate students and making known their excellence!

Graduate Students Receive AFW Awards

The Association for Faculty Women’s Outstanding Graduate Student Awards recognize exceptional performance in academics, teaching, and mentoring, and outreach or service, as well as leadership qualities and professional potential.

AFW Founders Award 2016-2017

Jordan Engelke

Department of English
Thesis: Intersectional Approaches to Digital Technology

Jordan is a McNair scholar graduating this Spring with an MA in English and a Certificate in Digital Humanities and Culture. She has presented her research nationally at, for example, Berkeley, Arizona State and Las Vegas. She is President of the English Graduate Organization, and is a leader in WSU’s Graduate Pride Alliance. Jordan has a long history of social activism, noted by her nominator as “the champion of social justice”. Her activism at WSU has been recognized with the Master’s Student Service Award. She has lead SafeZone Ally Training, and created a resource pool for first-time teachers in response to her own experiences. She became the first Graduate Assistant for the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program that serves under-represented students in the Department of English. She also skates for a local roller derby team.

The Harriett B. Rigas Award 2016-2017

Nicole Kelp

Molecular Biosciences
Dissertation: Non-classical hormone receptors in female reproductive physiology and pathology

Nicole began her studies in the School of Molecular Biosciences having been recognized as a high achieving undergraduate and admitted into the STARS program (Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies). This is a program for accelerated advancement in molecular biosciences, an aim that Nicole is clearly demonstrating. The focus of her graduate research is on women’s health with results that have implications for treating women’s diseases such as endometriosis and uterine cancer. Her nominator notes, “Nicole’s research projects are extensive and the effort she has made to this point, both intellectually and in terms of independently completing the experiments, are exceptional.” Indeed, it is her work ethic, curiosity, and intellectual capacity that earned her a 3-year NSF fellowship, among several other awards, and which contribute to an impressive publication record at this stage in her academic career. Nicole’s passion for science is evident in volunteerism with a science outreach program for high school students, in her mentoring of undergraduate students in Molecular Biosciences, in mentoring WSU Honors College students as they prepare their honors presentations, and in serving as a New Graduate Student Prestigious Fellowship Workshops panelist and proposal editor. Her outreach and interests are far from unidimensional. In addition to her accomplishments in research, Nicole has participated in humanitarian work in central China and in Afghanistan with refugee women.

Davi Kallman

College of Communication
Dissertation: Life Without Boundaries: A Positive Deviance Inquiry of Communication Behaviors that Influence Academic Success of Learning-Disabled University Students

Davi has a strong history of working to create awareness of stereotypes and prejudices about persons with disabilities. As an individual who has dyslexia, she well knows the social and physical barriers that face students with disabilities, and it is this experience that has motivated her to address the needs of marginalized populations. Davi, who has served in several leadership positions at WSU and professional organizations, has been recognized for her service, teaching and engagement. Among her awards are the WSU President Leadership award, GPSA Student Instructor of the Year Award, Myiah Hutchens Community Engagement Award, Prabu David Leadership Award, and Carson B Warner Award for excellence in poster design. In addition, Davi was a leader in establishing the Wiley Research Exposition at WSU. She has provided instrumental assistance in the establishment and implementation of the WSU Graduate School Professional Development Initiative (PDI), which provides graduate students opportunities for professional development and career enhancement. Davi created a website, coordinated 14 events with over 700 participants, and has created a system whereby the PDI is sustainable after she graduates. Beyond her service and leadership, Davi has maintained an active research program which uses media-based interventions to reduce stigma and prejudice against those with disabilities.

Karen DePauw Leadership Award 2016-2017

Kari Ann Gaither

Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dissertation: Mechanisms of Action and Regulation of ATF5 in Cancer and Cellular Stress

Kari’s research focuses on cancer that affects women’s health. Her work has potential to find specific molecular targets for breast cancer, and will inform potential cancer therapies. She has a passion for research that, in her words, “stems from a desire to positively impact lives through scientific discovery”. She is the recipient of a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for a student in the STEM disciplines, an honor that is given, in part, for scientific outreach. Kari’s outreach crosses her research community, the WSU community, and communities throughout Washington State. At WSU she was a volunteer presenter for a session on how to apply for the NSF fellowships; she is one of two students who organized and established an Association for Women in Science (AWIS) chapter in 2014. This feat required securing financial support from several Deans at WSU. She is currently the graduate representative to the WSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women. In addition, she is an active supporter of opportunities that encourage youth to participate in STEM experiences. To this end she has engaged with K-12 youth around STEM, mentored low income high school students, and has been a judge at high school STEM competitions. Kari’s accomplishments are especially impressive because she is a first-generation college student. She has successfully navigated the challenges and expectations of higher education, excelled in her work and leadership roles, and continues to give back to the community through her mentorship and the enthusiasm for STEM, which she shares with youth and others.

Julia A. Pomerenk Receives Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award

Association for Faculty Women’s 2016-2017 Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award

The Association of Faculty Women is happy to announce that the 2016 winner of the Sam Smith Leadership Award is Ms. Julia A. Pomerenk, the Washington State University Registrar. Ms Pomerenk was nominated by 21 individuals who see in her the embodiment of the true leader who touches people’s lives in many ways. Julia has demonstrated her leadership by promoting, supporting, and sustaining a diverse community throughout her career at WSU. The AFW Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award is a particularly appropriate way to honor this truly exceptional woman.

Julia has distinguished herself both professionally and personally throughout her tenure at Washington State University. She has set herself apart as a leader, a mentor, a collaborator, and a woman committed to creating and sustaining a diverse community in every aspect of her life. Julia’s demonstrated commitment to advancing the role of women is evidenced by her laboring well above and beyond her expected job responsibilities. She has been at the forefront, locally and nationally, as a leader who works tirelessly to create and sustain a diverse and affirming academic community for all people. Her friends and colleagues know her absolute commitment to personally changing the world using the tools of the academy to engage a broader, more diverse group of individuals in leadership within higher education.

The Year Ahead: 2016-2017

The Association for Faculty Women (AFW) is a broadly inclusive group that promotes successful and satisfying careers for women, whether you are tenured, tenure track, clinical or research track, or adjunct faculty, or hold an administrative position.

artparty2A few highlights for the coming year include:

  • Two lunch-hour meetings focusing on Faculty Senate and Women’s Mentoring and Leadership. These lunch meetings will be October 20 and February 23.
  • Dinner meetings with university leadership, including President Kirk Schulz (TBA), the WSU Regents (November 2), and the College Deans/Chancellors (February 9).
  • And our emphasis on networking opportunities, especially for new members, which have been very successful.

AFW connects you to a mutually supportive, multidisciplinary community of WSU women faculty and administrators. AFW also serves as an excellent source of information and provides strong advocacy on issues relevant to professional women.

Please mark your calendars for upcoming meetings, including our annual holiday celebration on December 6, our Graduate Student Awards on April 6, our Wine Tasting and Officer Election on May 3, and the Networking picnic in July.