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

MON, MAR 6, 2017 (1:37:07)

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

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policy-maker, an activist, and a survivor. On November 6, 2018, Congresswoman Pressley was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts 7th is the most diverse and most unequal district in the state, requiring a representative whose experiences are reflective of the people.

Like many in her district, Congresswoman Pressley has endured numerous hardships throughout her life, and it is because of those experiences that she remains a dedicated activist who’s devoted to creating robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences. She believes that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power and that a diversity of voices in the political process is essential to making policies that benefit more Americans.

Born in Cincinnati and raised in Chicago, Congresswoman Pressley is the only child of a single mother and a father who was in and out of the criminal justice system - creating an unstable household and forcing her to mature at a rapid rate. While her father ultimately overcame his addiction and went on to become a published author, Congresswoman Pressley was primarily raised by her mother Sandra Pressley, a tenants’ rights organizer who instilled in her the value of civic engagement. Thanks to her mother’s dedication to activism, Congresswoman Pressley has always been acutely aware of the role that government can play in lifting up families and communities.

Congresswoman Pressley attended the Francis W. Parker School, a private school in Chicago where her activism and commitment to public service took hold. A devoted student, Congresswoman Pressley was supported by her teachers, faculty, and peers and was elected class president every year from 7th grade through senior year of high school. She was also elected student government president, was a competitive debater through her school’s chapter of Junior State of America, was the commencement speaker for her graduating class, and was named “most likely to be mayor of Chicago.”

Congresswoman Pressley moved to Boston, MA in 1992 to attend Boston University, however, after a couple of years of enrollment, she withdrew from the University to help support her mother. She remained an activist in the community, working as a senior aide to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, volunteering for Senator John Kerry’s reelection campaign, and working for Senator Kerry for 13 years in a variety of roles, including constituency director and political director. Senator Kerry described Congresswoman Pressley as a “force” who “believed in public service.”

+ 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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