three groups of acrobat athletes

Readers Celebrate Mighty Women of Oregon

For the winter issue—Mighty Women of Mighty Oregon—readers answer the call for outstanding teachers, mentors, and icons 

By Oregon Quarterly staff Photo of UO Women's Acrobatics and Tumbling by Molly McPherson February 2, 2023

 

The winter 2024 issue of Oregon Quarterly celebrates The Mighty Women of Mighty Oregon: faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are leaders and legends in their fields. OQ asked readers to share their stories of a Mighty Woman of Oregon—a teacher, mentor, friend, fellow student, or cultural icon. Submissions are compiled below and will be published with Women’s History Month in March.
 

Celebrate a Mighty Woman of Oregon


Joan Acker: sociologist was challenging but fun
Kirsten Agard: leading the way in business and equity
Simone Anter: clean water champion prioritizes indigenous peoples
Exine Bailey: a caring music mentor
Alaina Burgess: inspirational in TV and in dance
Ann Craig: museum expert prioritizes the public
Kerry Frazee: a tireless devotion to student well-being
Mabel Ruth Klockars Garner: museum leader embraced Asian art
Monika Graf: golfer tops leaderboard as consultant, mentor
Margaret Hallock: skilled in economics, negotiations . . . and softball
Megan Henry: an architecture student building up her peers
Chandra LeGue: environmental advocate
Denyse McGriff: Oregon City mayor breaks barriers
Deb Morrison: lifting the School of Journalism and Communication to the national stage
Maurine Neuberger: a trailblazer in Congress
Ellen Peters: communicating science to the rest of us
Melynda Retallack: a champion for green building
Carol Scherer: Duck took flight with first women USAF pilots
Ellen Schmidt-Devlin: track star sets the pace in sports product industry
Ashley Schroeder: an inspiring beach volleyball trailblazer 
Kathie Stanley: an exemplar for career women
Lauretta Padilla Stuart: immigrant’s successes warrant headlines
Nadia Telsey: “Every woman who has embraced who they really are”
Golda Wickham: warm and caring, she made a difference for women students
Charity Woodrum: physics grad joins NASA’s Webb Space Telescope team
 

Alaina Burgess: inspirational in TV and in dance

Alaina Burgess hiking with her dog, Gus, a Schnauzer-type, with a waterfall in the background

After graduating with a journalism degree from U of O in 2006, Alaina began her career in local television at KOBI-TV in Medford. Two years later, she returned to Eugene for an opportunity at KLSR-TV. Over the past fifteen years she’s worked there in sales, marketing, programming, and then eventually as national sales manager. In 2022, KLSR was sold to Cox Enterprises, and she was promoted to station manager, overseeing all station operations. Alaina is also a fitness dance instructor in Eugene and is grateful for the chance to inspire other women to dance their way to better health and well-being.

Teresa Burgess
Bakersfield, California
 


Golda Wickham: she made a difference for women students

As dean of women, Golda looked very stern and severe, but there was a warm and caring woman underneath. She took time to listen to students who approached, and when trouble was apparent, Dean Wickham had a special fund to help—new books, recommending who to see, an appropriate suit for an interview, a dressy gown for something important. She made a difference.

Eleanor Marie Saunders Mueller, BA ’64 (Clark Honors College, history), MA ’65 (interdisciplinary studies)
Salem, Oregon


Nadia Telsey: “Every woman who has embraced who they really are”

“I admire all the unseen and unacknowledged women who have embraced who they really are despite messages everywhere about their lack of worth; every woman who has gone after her dreams. My heroes are the women who hold families together at great cost, who do the underappreciated work that keeps societies functioning; the women who have visions for bettering the world and then make those happen.”

Nadia Telsey
Eugene, Oregon 


Monika “Moni” Graf: golfer tops leaderboard as consultant, mentor

Monika “Moni” Graf attended the UO from 2007 to 2011. She played on the women’s golf team and was heavily involved in the Student Athlete Advisory Council at UO and the Pac-12 while simultaneously earning degrees in business administration and applied mathematics. Since graduating from the UO, Moni has led a successful career in college athletics, consulting, and business management. She owns her own consulting practice and currently works to bring emerging technologies to market across a myriad of industries from fintech to healthcare. On top of all that Moni is an amazing partner, mother of two mighty young girls, and still finds time to mentor current UO student athletes as they embark on their professional and life journeys post-college.

Rich Breuner, BS ’11 (business administration)
Bend, Oregon 


Maurine Neuberger: a trailblazer in Congress

Only woman from Oregon elected to the US Senate. Feminist, consumer advocate, great human being. She advocated for consumer and health issues and sponsored one of the first bills requiring warning labels on cigarettes.

Kate Marquez
Klamath Falls, Oregon

Maurine Neuberger
Photo: Marion S. Trikosko

Deb Morrison: lifting the School of Journalism and Communication

Professor Morrison has been transformational in shaping the School of Journalism and Communication. As director of advertising, she built an all-star group of faculty and put the school on the national stage. In her current role as associate dean, she is completely reshaping the curriculum (a year-long process) to make the school as a whole one of the best and most innovative in the nation. It would be impossible to overstate her importance and the legacy she is building.

Steven Asbury, BS ’97 (news editorial)
Eugene, Oregon

Deb Morrison wearing T-shirt reading "Nevertheless she persisted" and pointing confidently at camera
Photo: Henry Amman, BA ’19 (journalism: advertising)

Charity Woodrum: physics grad joins NASA’s Webb Space Telescope team

I met Charity as an undergrad who had just returned from a NASA internship, and I was going to write about her experience. She was the first in her family to graduate high school. She’s also overcome unimaginable adversity—losing her son and husband in a terrible tragedy at the coast. She went on to grad school and recently landed a dream job with NASA working on the Webb Space Telescope. It would take 1,000 words to tell her inspiring story.

Jim Murez
Eugene, Oregon

Woodrum is the subject of a new documentary, Space, Hope and Charity. For more on her:

Stellar Student
UO Alumna Part of Webb Telescope Team

Charity Woodrum

Simone Anter: clean water champion prioritizes indigenous peoples

Simone Anter

As a Hanford program director and staff attorney at Columbia Riverkeeper, Simone Anter lends invaluable legal support to Columbia Riverkeeper’s Clean Water Act enforcement actions and campaigns. She leads our work with Yakama Nation to support increased public engagement in Hanford Nuclear Site cleanup. She also engages community members that care deeply about fighting climate change to support a just transition and avoid disproportionately burdening Indigenous people and Tribal Nations with the costs of renewable energy.

Liz Terhaar, BA ’07 (Spanish, magazine)
Hood River, Oregon 


Kerry Frazee: a tireless devotion to student well-being

Kerry Frazee earned her PhD in prevention science from the UO College of Education in 2020 and has dedicated her career to the prevention of harm to students. Kerry previously served as the director of prevention services at the UO, where she designed programs for preventing sexual violence and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. She currently works in Eugene School District 4J, supporting student mental health initiatives and leading the district’s efforts in suicide prevention. Her passion for the well-being of kids and their families has substantively improved the lives of those in the Eugene community during a time when it’s desperately needed. Kerry Frazee has left a legacy of care and support at the University of Oregon and she continues to make a mighty impact on the Eugene community.

Lauren Miller Stanfield
Eugene, Oregon 

Kerry Frazee

Denyse McGriff: Oregon City mayor breaks barriers

Denyse McGriff (right) and Governor Tina Kotek
McGriff (right) with Governor Tina Kotek (courtesy Denyse McGriff) 

Denyse has been a community activist for most of her life and career. Involvement in the community is important to her and she has worked tirelessly to enable a variety of voices to be heard. In 2019, Denyse was elected to the Oregon City Commission, the first person of color to serve in the city’s history. In August 2022, she was elected the first Black mayor of Oregon City to serve out an unexpired term & reelected to a 4-year term in November 2022. Denyse is currently one of three African American mayors in the state of Oregon and the only female. During her time as mayor, she has worked to represent the community by attending Pride events, Indigenous Peoples Day, speaking at schools, greeting sister city dignitaries from Japan, visiting seniors, and participating in commemorative 9-11 events. This has prompted more than one resident to say, “Our mayor is everywhere!”

Julie Rawls
Portland, Oregon
 


Carol Scherer: Duck took flight with first women USAF pilots

Carol Scherer

Carol was a pioneer in US Air Force military aviation. At the U of O she was an active member of the WebFoot Sport Parachutists. A true pioneer, she was selected to be one of the first women to train to become a pilot in the USAF. The test program for pilots began with ten women on August 26, 1976, in San Antonio, Texas. They joined 39 male colleagues for the 48-week training course. Those 10 women are honored with their uniforms on display in the USAF museum in Dayton, Ohio. Carol went on to fly for the USAF for 12 Years and then to fly for American Airlines. There was a great deal of pressure on these first 10 women aviation candidates to succeed and Carol did just that.

Mike Stewart, BEd ’76 (elementary education), MEd ’78 (curriculum and instruction)
Oregon City, Oregon
 


Kathie Stanley: an exemplar for career women

Kathie Stanley

Kathie Stanley earned her journalism degree from the School of Journalism and Communication. Kathie has dedicated her entire career to supporting UO students and mentoring the many professionals she has supervised or supported. Kathie has served as the associate vice president and chief of staff in the Division of Student Life for over a decade and does so much behind the scenes to ensure our students’ well-being and success is our top priority. Her work is done behind a curtain but the efforts are felt front stage. Kathie has left an undeniable impact and legacy, but most especially on the countless women she has mentored over the years. I know I speak for many of those women when I say she has changed the course of our lives for the better and supported us though finding our way as career women holding several identities. Kathie models what it means to be a strong mentor and could teach a master class on lifting up other women.

Lauren Miller Stanfield
Eugene, Oregon
 


Ellen Schmidt-Devlin: track star sets the pace in sports product industry

Ellen Schmidt-Devlin

I recently met Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, cofounder and executive director of the UO Sports Product Management program in Portland. Her accomplishments at every stage of her life are truly impressive, yet she is approachable and down-to-earth. Schmidt-Devlin earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA from the UO. As an undergraduate, she ran cross country, met legendary coach Bill Bowerman, and worked in his innovation lab. That led to a 27-year career at Nike, where she served in leadership positions throughout Asia and the US. After retiring from Nike, she returned to the UO to complete her MBA. She also produced We Grew Wings, a documentary on the legacy of women’s track and field at the UO. Always striving to learn and do more, Schmidt-Devlin cofounded the UO Sports Product Management program in 2015, and she earned her PhD in building sustainable systems from Case Western Reserve University in 2020.

Sherri Buri McDonald
Eugene, Oregon
 


Melynda Retallack: a champion for green building

Melynda Retallack

Melynda earned a bachelor of architecture with a minor in environmental studies at the University of Oregon and then moved to San Francisco to develop affordable housing and complete school renovations around the Bay Area. Mel is a principal and owner at Ink:built Architecture, a women-owned architecture and development company. She views each project as an opportunity to demonstrate how buildings can have a restorative effect on our environment and even start to alleviate issues of affordability and equity in housing. She is a licensed architect in Oregon and Washington and a LEED AP BD&C with over 25 years of experience in architecture and real estate development. She currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Camp Fire Columbia, a youth services organization, and board member for Camp Namanu, and is a past chair with the Green Building Interest Group, a subcommittee of the Cascadia Portland Collaborative of the US Green Building Council and International Living Futures Institute. Mel spends her free time backpacking and paddling in the northwest and tending her urban garden.

Anna McCormack, class of 1991
Enontekiö, Finland
 


Kirsten Agard: leading the way in business and equity

Kirsten Agard

She is a first-generation college graduate who went to U of O for her undergrad with a baby in tow in 2008. During COVID-19 she adopted her sister’s three boys and led her mortgage team at work through a very difficult time. She has reenrolled at the U of O for her executive MBA and is still killing it. She is the chair of the Beaverton Downtown Association and on the board of Adelante Mujeres. She recently created a new LGBTQIA2+ event called Beyond Labels in Beaverton to celebrate and increase visibility to the community. She is always pushing to be better, supporting others, and is an inspiration.

Monica Irvin, BS ’07 (business administration)
Napa, California
 


Megan Henry: an architecture student building up her peers

Megan Henry with dog

Megan Henry is a dedicated third-year architecture student. She wants to design low-income housing for communities in the Willamette Valley. She has started a study group that meets weekly to help other architecture students with required classes. When not in class, she likes to attend football and women’s basketball games, visit her family, and build Lego. Megan is an inspiration because of how she is committed to helping others and making sure her peers are successful.

Sarah Henry
Salem, Oregon
 


Joan Acker: sociologist was challenging but fun

I took a couple classes with Joan; she was an excellent teacher, her feminist classes were challenging, fun, original. I was in my thirties, and she took a particular interest in this “old” student and my life experiences. A true inspiration and a wonderful colleague to the other sociology faculty, who all admired her.

Katherine Black, BS ’83 (sociology)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Joan Acker

Ashley Schroeder: an inspiring beach volleyball trailblazer

Ashley Schroeder

Ashley Schroeder is currently a University of Oregon senior who has participated every year on the beach volleyball team. She has played in every game since her freshman year. She has a positive attitude and has been an inspiration to all of the younger women on the team. She has been a trailblazer, standing up for equitable conditions and always participating with a good attitude.

Lucy George
Huntington Beach, California

Julie Bayer
Dallas, Texas
 


Ann Craig: museum expert prioritizes the public

Ann Craig is associate director at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. She earned two degrees from the University of Oregon: a BA in history and Asian studies (2000) and an MA in arts management with a focus on museum studies (2006). Ann leads a talented team of educators, artists, and storytellers who have helped develop the museum’s dynamic model for community engagement and inclusivity. Ann is interested in increasing scientific literacy, telling more truthful historical narratives, and helping students connect to their passions. She is coauthor of Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, second edition.

Lexie Briggs
Eugene, Oregon 


Mabel Ruth Klockars Garner: museum leader embraced Asian art

She was acting director, circa 1949–54, of the University of Oregon Museum of Art [today, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art] and traveled with founder Gertrude Bass Warner, the woman who developed the museum’s Asian art collection, on several trips to Asia. As a woman in the field of art museum directors, she was a pioneer. She put Oregon on the map in the Asian art world.

Don Boileau, MA ’65, PhD ’72 (speech: rhetoric and communication)
Ashburn, Virginia


Lauretta Padilla Stuart: immigrant’s successes warrant headlines

She is my lovely, beautiful wife and a former news editor, copy desk chief, and special projects editor at the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She is a 1969 graduate of the School of Journalism and Communication of the University of Oregon. She accomplished all of this while being a Philippines immigrant to the United States, where she became a naturalized United States citizen. My list can go on and on about her parents, her accomplishments, and her accomplished siblings. She is highly deserving of any recognition from the University of Oregon. And she loves and still follows the UO football team. Go Ducks!

Kenneth Stuart
Sewell, New Jersey 


Ellen Peters: communicating science to the rest of us

Ellen Peters

Ellen Peters is a double Duck who earned a master’s and PhD in psychology from the UO before she came back to teach at her alma mater in 2019. She now serves as the director of the School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) Center for Science Communication Research and is Philip H. Knight Chair and professor in both the SOJC and the psychology department. 

Peters has made—and continues to make—her mark as a top researcher. Since her arrival, she has authored the book, Innumeracy in the Wild, and helped bring in more than $5.1 million in grants. Over the course of her career, she has won numerous awards and held many notable titles, including chair of the FDA’s risk communication advisory committee. Just as important, she has engaged hundreds of students (and counting) in the sciences of risk, decision-making, and science communication.

Andra Brichacek Roe
Eugene, Oregon


Chandra LeGue: environmental advocate

Chandra LeGue during a hike, wearing a backpack and backed by evergreen trees and a ridge
Photo: Gary Hale

Chandra LeGue epitomizes the spirit of a Mighty Oregon Woman through her unwavering dedication to environmental conservation and advocacy. As the senior conservation advocate at Oregon Wild, Chandra has displayed exceptional leadership in protecting the state’s precious natural resources. Her commitment extends beyond professional roles, evident in her influential book, Oregon’s Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide, showcasing a deep understanding of the region’s ecosystems. An alumna of the University of Oregon, Chandra continues to inspire through education and activism.

Shannon Rose-Peterson
Eugene, Oregon

 


Exine Bailey: a caring music mentor

Exine Bailey

A strong-minded but compassionate vocal music teacher in the School of Music. I had her as a vocal coach in 1974–75. As a transfer student I had lost my way in my chosen major of music. I was falling through the cracks and not receiving any guidance from faculty as to how to fit in. Exine took me under her wing, even though her schedule was full. She set me back on my feet and helped me navigate the culture and requirements of the School of Music. She rekindled my confidence that I could accomplish the things I was interested in. I heard the same story over and over again from her students at her memorial. She was a strong and compassionate woman who helped develop other women and men. She was devoted to her students and to the community at-large.

Cynthia Clague, BMus ’75 (music education)
Eugene, Oregon
 


Margaret Hallock: skilled in economics, negotiations . . . and softball

Margaret Hallock

She was brilliant, dedicated, so very helpful in negotiations and day-to-day functioning for the SEIU Local 503 staff. Economics was a man’s world, yet she was a star in the field, completely dedicated to using economics to empower women and workers, and an inspiration to many of us somewhat younger women. She later founded the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. She was also a very good softball player, as I recall!

Katherine Black, BS ’83 (sociology)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

 


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