Date: March 5, 2004
Contact: Michael Hopkins
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, March 5, 2004—Governors State University will host its first annual "SHE Women's Conference" in celebration of Women's History Month on March 27. The day-long event will feature speakers, performers, and workshops – all geared toward issues related to women in the 21st century.
"There has been a shift in the way women relate to one another," said Loretta Jones, one of the conference organizers. "Not so long ago, there was a stronger tradition of women sharing the experiences of womanhood across generations. As women's roles have changed, some of that tradition has been lost. Part of the focus of the SHE Women's Conference is to recapture that and reinforce what is positive and powerful about being a woman."
Jones explained that the conference is meant to create a multigenerational dynamic. The conference is named "SHE" for "Sharing History and Experiences," which is exactly what SHE's organizers hope to foster.
"We're inviting women of all ages to attend," Jones said. "We want 14 year old girls to 100 year old women at the conference. We want 20 year old women to learn from 50 year old women and 50 year olds to learn from 70 year olds. We want to talk, discuss, and learn from one another."
Jones, who is a both a student and an employee of Governors State, is a mother of three daughters. She worries that young women today are taking a step backwards in the ways they view themselves.
"Women are bombarded every day by media images that are obsessed with creating a one-dimensional womanhood," she said. "We're going to break that media myth apart at the SHE Conference."
Dr. Loraine Sibbet, executive director of GSU's Student Life, said that the conference will host presentations by several successful women.
"Senator Debbie DeFrancesco Halvorson is our distinguished guest speaker," Sibbet said. "Senator Halvorson is a wonderful role-model for women, young and old. She's been a concerned, caring, and effective legislator for seven years, and she's a staunch supporter of education and our community."
Sibbet added that community is what women need to reinforce their goals and self-image. "We're fortunate to have Governors State situated in such a diverse and dynamic region. There's so much we can learn from one another as women right here, in the community we live in and from this educational resource we share through Governors State."
The conference will feature, in addition to Senator Halvorson, Dr. Wendy J. Marshall, from the Center for Surgery and Breast Health in Joliet. Her presentation "Breast Disease, Breast Cancer, and Hormone Replacement Therapy" will tackle some of the most formidable health issues confronting women.
Scheduled workshops include "What's Love Got to Do with It," by Dr. Beverly Urban, a GSU professor and licensed clinical social worker; "Shaping Family Values," by GSU Professor Dr. Susan Kinsey; and "Exploring Entrepreneurship: How to Start and Strengthen Your Own
Business," by Hilary Burkinshaw, director of the university's Small Business Development Center.
"The terrific thing about holding the conference at GSU is that we can draw upon a wide range of resources," Sibbet said. "We have professional women and educators right here who have so much to give and share with the communities that surround Governors State."
Jones added that women make up more than half the population of the planet, yet they are often regarded as minorities. "We're not in the minority at all, and we need to recognize that," she said, noting that Governors State itself has a student body comprised of 70 percent women. Sibbet agreed.
"As one student told me," she said, "the make-up of our student population should make this conference one of the university's most important events."
The conference will be held on March 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.