Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America

MON, MAR 6, 2017

A distinguished panel will take up the topic of Carol Hardy-Fanta's new book, Contested Transformation: Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America. Joining the author is Boston City Council President Michelle Wu, City Councilor At Large Ayanna Pressley, Prof. Paul Watanabe, and Ann Bookman, Director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

Learn how gains in political leadership and influence by women and men of color holding elected office are transforming the American political landscape, but how they have taken place within a contested political context, one where struggles for racial and gender equality continue.

+ BIO: Carol Hardy-Fanta

Carol Hardy-Fanta is a nationally recognized scholar on Latina/o politics and has published widely on the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity in politics and public policy. Her latest book, Contested Transformation: Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st-Century America (co-authored with Dianne Pinderhughes, Pei-te Lien, and Christine Sierra) was released by Cambridge University Press in October 2016. Her other books include: Latina Politics, Latino Politics: Gender, Culture, and Political Participation in Boston (Temple University Press, 1993), Latino Politics in Massachusetts: Struggles, Strategies and Prospects (Routledge Press, 2002), and Intersectionality and Politics: Recent Research on Gender, Race, and Political Representation in the United States (Haworth Press, 2006).

+ BIO: Michelle Wu

Michelle Wu has been a voice for accessibility, transparency, and community engagement in city leadership. First elected to the Boston City Council in November 2013 at the age of 28, Wu is the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Council. In January 2016, she was elected President of the City Council by her colleagues in a unanimous vote, becoming the first woman of color to serve as Council President.

Councilor Wu was the lead sponsor of Boston's Paid Parental Leave ordinance and Healthcare Equity ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity -- both of which passed unanimously through the Council and were signed into law by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. She also authored Boston’s Communications Access ordinance, which guarantees translation, interpretation and assistive technology for access to city services regardless of English language proficiency or communications disability.

+ BIO: Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley’s career has been marked by history-making campaigns and a relentless determination to advance a political agenda focused on women and girls, building healthy communities, and breaking cycles of poverty, violence, and trauma.

Ayanna was first elected to the Boston City Council on November 3, 2009, becoming the first woman of color ever elected to the Council. In her subsequent 2011, 2013 and 2015 reelection campaigns, Ayanna made history as the first person of color and the first woman in 30 years to top the ticket.

During her time in office, Ayanna created and chairs the City Council’s Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities. The Committee is devoted to the causes that she has always been most devoted to: stabilizing families and communities, reducing and preventing violence and trauma, combating poverty, and addressing issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.

Ayanna is committed to working in partnership with community, building broad and diverse coalitions to advance policy reforms. She has earned local and national attention for her efforts to provide pathways to graduation for pregnant and parenting teens, ensure Boston high school students receive comprehensive sexual health education, diversify economic and wealth building opportunities for women and people of color, and strengthen support services for families of homicide victims and sexual assault survivors. In 2013, she formed the Elevate Boston coalition to ensure issues uniquely impacting women and girls and the LGBTQ community were part of the 2013 Boston mayoral race debate.

In 2015, Ayanna earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award. In 2014, she was named to Boston Magazine’s Power of Ideas list, was a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Ten Outstanding Young Leaders honoree, and earned the Victim Rights Law Center's Leadership Award.

Ayanna is an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership (Class of 2012) and was selected as a Truman National Security Project Partner in 2012.

Ayanna’s political career spans more than 18 years, in various behind-the-scene capacities at the federal level of government. She previously worked as a Senior Aide for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and Senator John Kerry.

Ayanna resides in Dorchester with her husband Conan Harris and her 6 year old stepdaughter Cora.

+ BIO: Ann Bookman

Ann Bookman, is an internationally recognized expert on many of the hot-button issues that have made headlines this year: political participation, community engagement, and work-family balance.

Bookman joined CWPPP in September from Brandeis University, where she was a senior research scientist in social policy and an associate at the Center for Youth and Communities. She has built a long and distinguished career in academia and government, with previous posts at MIT and Harvard.

She also spent three years at the U.S. Department of Labor as an appointee of President Bill Clinton. In Washington, Bookman was executive director of a bipartisan commission that studied the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act on workers and employers.

+ BIO: Paul Watanabe

Paul Watanabe is currently director of the Institute for Asian American Studies and associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His principal research and teaching interests are in the areas of American political behavior, ethnic group politics, Asian Americans, and American foreign policy.

He is the author of Ethnic Groups, Congress, and American Foreign Policy and principal author of A Dream Deferred: Changing Demographics, New Opportunities, and Challenges for Boston. He regularly contributes analysis and commentary to national and local television, radio, newspapers, and news magazines.

He has served on several boards of non-profit organizations including the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Political Research Associates, the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, the Harvard Community Health Plan, the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund, and the Asian American Policy Review. Paul was born in Murray, Utah, and he received his PhD in Political Science from Harvard University.

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