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Welcome to the Dearborn, MI Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college.  Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.

Never Waste an Opportunity

Michelle_MunsonThe following is a brief synthesis of what Michelle Munson, C.E.O. of Aspera, a unit of IBM, declares essential to a successful career:

1.  Nothing replaces being competent.

2.  Get really good at what you do in your field. Stretch yourself through internships, projects and activities.

3.  Respect from others and your ability to contribute are keys to opportunity.

4.  Actually “doing”  proves your value.

5.  It is easy to criticize, but critical thinking can be extremely useful if it leads to independent thinking.

6.  Skill and competence allow critical thinking to find creative solutions.

7.  The real challenge is how to solve something, to seize the opportunity to make something better with available resources.

Good advice for students, activists, and careerists!


AAUW-Dearborn Salutes Michelle Merrill

Merrill-Headshot-1-213x300At the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Young People’s Concert yesterday, the coveted, winning-costume award went to a girl dressed up as a CEO of a major corporation. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Read the following press release from the DSO to discover yet another woman is breaking the proverbial-glass ceiling.

Following a nationwide search, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has selected Michelle Merrill, 30, as Assistant Conductor. She will relocate to Detroit from Jacksonville, Fla. where she guest conducts the Jacksonville Symphony. Merrill fills the position vacated earlier this year by Teddy Abrams, who recently began his inaugural season as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra.

Merrill’s first appearance onstage with the DSO will be an Education Concert Series performance on Nov. 12. “Michelle impressed everyone with her musicality,” said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin. “Both in conducting the orchestra and in the interview phases she exhibited all the qualities that the DSO embraces and will be an outstanding addition to the community.”

As Assistant Conductor, Merrill will act as cover conductor for all classical series concerts, as well as conduct DSO’s Young People’s Family Concerts, Education Concert Series programs, and occasional Pops series programs.

“I am honored and beyond thrilled to be joining the DSO family,” said Merrill. “Having the opportunity to work with the extraordinary musicians of the orchestra and world-renowned Music Director Leonard Slatkin is a dream come true. I cannot wait to be a part of making the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the planet, as well as an orchestra committed to bringing culture, art, and creativity to the citizens of metro Detroit and beyond.”

The Rochester City Newspaper declared her to be one of the “up and coming conductors of note.” A passionate-dynamic artist, Merrill was awarded the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship in 2013 by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival.  Merrill made her debut with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in September, 2014. This past spring, she stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for their performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, which the Dallas Morning News described as “stunning”.

Previous praise came from her conducting of Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 with the Rochester Philharmonic: “with the natural grace of a prima ballerina, Merrill knows what she wants and how to achieve it. Merrill’s conducting took her full body in wide sweeps, making connections, seemingly, with each individual musician. Merrill’s phrasing of the Schubert was utterly proper in style and form.

Born in Dallas, Texas,, Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance.

Help End Violence; Empower Women

vawa-campaign-imagePlease read this appeal about Kori Cioca, formerly a service- woman in the United States Coast Guard who was raped by her commanding officer. It’s from Linda D. Hallman, CAE, Executive Director of AAUW.

When she (Kori) tried to call out for help, he hit her so brutally that he dislocated her jaw. Despite the atrocious nature of this crime, her attacker went unpunished. This is just one example of the violence too many women face everyday.

AAUW, a leader on this issue, has confronted violence against women for decades. For instance, AAUW was instrumental in passing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women (VAWA) Act. AAUW staff  were among those called to testify before Congress. The reauthorization included most of the Campus SaVE Act designed to help increase safety on college campuses.

AAUW supports the new It’s on Us campaign developed by the White House in an effort to shift the way Americans view campus sexual assault and to end blaming victims for the crimes perpetrated against them.

Now we need to support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act. It could change the way the epidemic of sexual assault is handled by the military.

AAUW recognizes its responsibility and has the clout and the power to shape the future of this country. Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to national AAUW today to help end violence against women.





Save These Dates

DSCF3353For those of you who enjoy volunteering to work with the fifth graders from the Dearborn Public Schools on the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, please mark your calendars.

Workshops are scheduled for the following days in February 2015:

Tuesdays — the 3rd, 10th and 24th

and Thursdays — the 5th and 12th.

from our friends at Moms Rising

-1Scandal, the show created by one of the few women writers and producers working on prime time TV, Shonda Rhimes, regularly has us buzzing when it airs.

Already this season, the Emmy-award winning program has taken on:

Violence against women
Unequal pay
Paid family leave (maternity/paternity leave)
Sexual harassment in the workplace
And gun violence….
We thank Shonda Rhimes for her leadership in exploring the problems that impact women and families every day in her shows.

We encourage other writers and producers to follow her example, and we encourage network executives to hire more women to create compelling programming.

The real scandal in Hollywood is that women comprise just 27% of creators, executive producers, producers, writers, directors, editors, and directors of photography working on primetime programs airing on the broadcast networks.[1] That’s why Ms. Rhimes is such a game changer.

Public policy often catches up with public opinion, and shows like Scandal help shape public opinion in important ways. Can you imagine the progress for women and families if we had more champions like Ms. Rhimes behind the scenes and calling the shots in more places in Hollywood?

Here’s what Olivia Pope, Scandal’s main character, said recently:

“Somehow, she still makes 77 cents to every male dollar. No matter what face we present to the world, we know our worth. We know what we’re capable of. We know who we are, who we’ll always be. And we have a choice: We can hide in the shadows or we can stand in the light…”

Indeed, by weaving our real-life problems into the very fabric of Scandal’s dialog and plots — like unequal pay, sexual harassment, and gun violence — Shonda Rhimes helps women “stand in the light.”

The Brave

Twenty years ago, 21,000 American
women were assaulted-raped-murdered
each-and-every week, often in the
privacy of their own homes

Victims had to be meek, were told never to
speak of domestic violence,
always-and-ever, never to share, this
private, oh-so-secret “family affair”

Twenty years ago, some of the annual million-plus,
American-women survivors opened their mouths
wide to the winds of change, as they gasped
story needs air

Twenty years ago, some
brave victims ceased whispering
brave victims began to speak
brave victims turned up the volume

The brave yelled that hands which caress can crack and crush
The brave shrieked about eyes smashed by furious fists
The brave bellowed about arms broken by hammers
The brave yelped about faces slashed and creased by scary scars

The brave screamed about heads beaten by pipes
The brave hollered about skulls splintered by bathroom fixtures
The brave wailed about women shoved down staircases
The brave howled about pregnant women’s kicked bellies

The brave screeched that the very notions of decency were indecent
The brave called out that appearance was not “proof” of having asked for it
The brave howled about dorm-room, car-seat, boat-cushion, dark-park rape
The brave roared that raw violence was never medium-rare

The determined vowed that Violence Against Women not be secret anymore
The persistent passed The Violence Against Women Act
Twenty years on, such violence is no longer society’s secret and
brave victims have burgeoned into courageous-vociferous survivors

Help Take Back the Night!

TBTN 2014 FlyerBenita Robinson, AAUW student-activist,  forwarded this information to us from UM-D.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recent weeks there has been public discussion of issues surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault. Although this is nothing new, the fact is that gender-based violence has been embedded in our society and culture for years and years now. It’s time to turn conversation into action!

Because of this, we are more fired up than ever to host TAKE BACK THE NIGHT this year on October 16, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The event will be held in Kochoff Hall C in the University Center Building. Help spread the word to community organizations, co-workers, family, friends, and networks. Encourage everyone to attend.

Contact Ashley Fairbanks <afairban@umich.edu> or Heather Simpson <hisimpso@umich.edu> for additional information.

Read our October 3, 2014, blog item to learn more about Benita Robinson’s activism.



Rebel Nell’s Creativity Yells Success



After attending a lecture on art and gardens in America at the Detroit Institute of Arts yesterday, our study & interest group, “Adventures in Fine Arts,” visited the museum-gift shop and discovered some singular jewelry. We hope you will consider buying some of this unique craft work for your holiday gifts. Your purchases will help support hard-working women moving on from Detroit shelters to independent lives.

According to their website, Rebel Nell employs disadvantaged women in Detroit, educates them about business and life skills and empowers them to transition to an independent life. Rebel Nell makes jewelry from unique-local materials found near building facades that have been covered by graffiti artists. The goal at Rebel Nell is to help women move from dependent lives to ones of self-reliance.  Homeless shelters in Detroit help the organization identify women who are ready to transition into a new phase of life. Then through the fruits of their own creativity and labor, these same women overcome prior barriers to employment.

The jewelry they produce starts with re-purposing graffiti, an abundant local resource. Chunks of graffiti are collected after its having fallen from walls. Initially, the scraps look rough on the surface, an apt metaphor to capture first impressions of Detroit — rough, with beauty beneath the surface waiting to be exposed.  After processing the detritus, artisans at Rebel Nell reveal beautiful layers constituted from graffiti! Again metaphorically, these intricate layers reveal the depths of lives that live in and constitute the City of Detroit.  After finishing their detailed work, the women artisans have turned scraps of trashed graffiti into pieces of wearable art! They make rings, earrings, cufflinks and pendant necklaces.

Such artistic efforts restore confidence in the women hired to do the work. In addition to on-the-job training, Rebel Nell provides financial management, wellness training and business education to help individual artisans make their successful transitions into independent lives.
Their exploring creative expression and enhancing community responsibility is well worth pursuing. In turn, our support of their efforts as members of an organization committed to women breaking barriers to economic success is well worth extending!

Here are some local venues where you can purchase Rebel Nell products:
Ann Arbor Art Center, 117 W. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
BluArch Collection, 142 West Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009
City Bird, 460 W. Canfield Street, Detroit, MI 48201
Detroit Artists Market, 4719 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202
Mount Elliott Park Fun Shop, 200 Mt. Elliott, Suite 116, Detroit, MI 48207
The Peacock Room , 15 E. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202
The Starring Gallery, 118 W. Main Street, Northville, MI 48167

Some Good News





Dear Anne:

I am so proud to live in a state that cares so deeply about the well-being of its residents.

With the passing of our package of 22 bills designed to attack human trafficking in Michigan and provide support for the survivors, Michigan is now the leading state in the nation for comprehensive laws and survivor support.

All of this could not have been achieved without you! My colleagues in the Senate, and the House of Representatives, deserve a lot of credit as well and I am most grateful to them for all their efforts.

As I researched how to craft practical and meaningful legislation that would realistically have an impact on creating awareness, preventing trafficking and helping survivors I met many, many fantastic Michiganders. By meeting with survivors, family members, health professionals, support groups, clergy members, and everyday citizens I learned how deeply human trafficking affects our state.

By sharing your experiences I learned how trafficking happens, what to look for to identify a trafficked individual, how widespread and unrecognized trafficking is here in Michigan and across the country. I also learned what is needed to help survivors. More than a horrendous crime, this is a health crisis. Survivors suffer unspeakable trauma. They need medical and psychological treatment. Many are addicted to drugs. Many have been denied any education.

Michigan is now at the forefront of this issue, and I am so very proud of our state, yet we must not lose the momentum. Governor Snyder will soon be signing these bills into law – but there is still more work to be done. I thank you again for your input, support and assistance and I look forward to working with you again in the future.

Judy Emmons

State Senator, 33rd District

Kudos to Benita Robinson!

                                                                                                                                                                             ARobinson02-300x300 lot of us have been delighted to watch the progress of Benita Robinson, a major in computer science and sociology at UM-D. Along with four other University of Michigan-Dearborn students, Robinson helped found an AAUWchapter on campus, the first in the nation! In 2012, Benita Robinson returned from the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) with a desire to fulfill a need on campus. At the time she declared: “There is a great need for women to be represented in society equally and to offer the opportunity for others to learn about issues deemed as women’s issues….” Soon after, she became one-of-ten college students chosen nationwide to serve on the AAUW Student Advisory Council.  She explained, “The thing that resonates with me most about the mission of AAUW is education, the foundation for all social change. It is imperative that we educate the community on what problems we face as a society and how they can contribute to the changes that need to be made.” As a member of the advisory council, Robinson offered accounts of student needs and ideas for combating sexual discrimination in higher education, contributed to the AAUW Dialog blog and served as a student leader at NCCWSL.

Clearly, AAUW has played a significant role in honing Robinson’s leadership skills. She hopes that “with each leadership experience, I am able to contribute positively to my community. I want to work with others to build a sustainable and equal-opportunity society.”

The October 1, 2014, issue of The Dearborn Press and Guide describes a new side of Benita Robinson’s reaching out to help others by sharing her experiences as “a survivor of domestic abuse, not a victim.” Recently, she was guest speaker at the Taylor Soroptimists International rally to “Save the Girls.” Soroptimists work to improve the lives of girls and women. What follows is lifted directly from the article:

Her story chronicled continuous childhood abuse and entering into an unhealthy adult relationship, which included a death threat, followed by stalking and harassment. A variety of life’s difficulties continued as she entered college. “I got a lot of second chances which a lot of women don’t have.” This ignited a passion to try to change the societal plague and promote equal opportunities for all.

Robinson earned the Soroptimists’ local, district, and regional Virginia Wagner award.  Judging is based on women attending a college or university with an effort toward scholarship, extra-curricular activities and financial need. Robinson is a member of many groups and has earned other awards. She hopes to work in an advocacy program for abused and underprivileged women and children and then attend law school.

Stay tuned. We can all rest assured that this courageous and determined young woman will be making change happen for years to come! Clearly, Benita Robinson has significant goals that include accomplishing many important tasks!  We can all be proud of the role AAUW has played in her demonstration of successful leadership so far.