Gender and Women's Studies

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Phenomenal Woman Awards 2010

The Phenomenal Woman Awards event celebrates women who have made outstanding contributions to our community. It also allows the Gender & Women’s Studies Department to raise funds to sponsor special programming, support student and faculty research, and finance scholarships for Gender and Women's Studies students. In addition, these contributions support the CSUN Women’s Resource and Research Center, the oldest continuing Women’s Center within the California State University system.

Ninth Biennial Phenomenal Woman Reception and Awards Fundraiser 

Awardees 2010

Val Zavala

Val ZavalaAnchor, SoCal Connected. V.P. News and Public Affairs, KCET, Los Angeles. Ms. Zavala is anchor/reporter for KCET’s signature award-winning news series, SoCal Connected. She has been at KCET since 1987, serving as anchor, reporter or executive producer for the long-running Life & Times as well as other news programs and specials. Over her career at KCET she has won 14 L.A. Area Emmys and eight Golden Mikes.

Ms. Zavala came to KCET with six years reporting experience at commercial news stations. She has covered major issues impacting southern California politics, education, healthcare, environment, demographics, arts and culture.

Ms. Zavala has been honored by numerous organizations including Hispanic Americans for Fairness in Media, the California Chicano News Media Association and she was named one of the 100 most influential Latinas by Hispanic Business Magazine in 2006.

In 1992 Zavala attended Stanford University on a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship. She received her Masters in journalism from American University in Washington, D. C. and her B.A. from Yale University. 

Katherine Spillar

Katherine SpillarKatherine Spillar is the Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and the Feminist Majority, national organizations working for women's equality, empowerment, and non-violence. As one of the founders, Ms. Spillar has been a driving force in executing the organization's diverse programs securing women's rights since its inception in 1987. A specialist in community organizing, Ms. Spillar is also a trained economist and researcher. She speaks to diverse audiences on a broad range of feminist topics at live events and on television and radio.

In 2005, Kathy Spillar was named Executive Editor of Ms. magazine. During her tenure, Ms. has increased its investigative reporting, producing cover stories exposing sweatshops, forced prostitution, and in-depth analyses of how big oil wins over women's rights in U.S. foreign policy. As the oldest national feminist publication, Ms.reaches activists and opinion leaders in the media, politics, and civic and academic circles.

Dr. Andrea Smith

Dr. Andrea SmithDr. Andrea Smith is a co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and the Boarding School Healing Project. She is the author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances. With Incite!, she is the co-editor of the The Color of Violence and editor of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Nonprofit Industrial Complex.

She currently teaches in Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside, where she is the co-coordinator of the upcoming conference: Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future Genocide: Settler Colonialism/ Heteropatriarchy/ White Supremacy. She is finishing her term as US coordinator of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.


Synthia Saint JamesFor her vibrant celebrations of family, community, and the cultures of the world, Synthia SAINT JAMES has earned numerous international awards, prestigious commissions, and a audience that continues to grow. This year she celebrates her 40th anniversary as a professional artist, and her 60th birthday.

You’ll find her artwork of over 60 book covers (including books by Terry McMillan, Alice Walker and Iyanla Vanzant), in seventeen children’s books (three of which she wrote), on the first Kwanzaa stamp commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service, in architectural designs for public places, and in artwork commissioned by organizations, corporations, and individual collectors. She is also a popular keynote speaker.

Lisa Powell

Lisa PowellLisa Powell has been a leader and organizer in the LGBT movement since 1986, when she first volunteered with the No on 64 campaign and the Minority AIDS Project in Los Angeles.  Three years later, she co-founded United Lesbians of African Heritage and Sistahfest. 

Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and she earned her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law.  She practiced civil litigation for thirteen years, during which time she never lost a jury trial. 

In 2008, Ms. Powell worked as a Deputy Field Organizer for the Obama campaign and she is now a frequent trainer for Organizing for America (OFA), President Obama’s national network of organizers. 

In January 2009, in the aftermath of the passage of California’s Proposition 8, she co-founded Camp Courage, an organizer training inspired by Camp Obama, and has since trained over 1600 activists.  Also, in 2009, she co-founded Black Lesbians United (BLU).

Among her recent awards, Ms. Powell is a recipient of the City of West Hollywood’s Rainbow Key Award (2010), Los Angeles County Young Democrats’ Hope Award (2009), Faces of New LGBT Movement Award by the City Council of Los Angeles (2009), Liberty Hill Foundation’s Changemaker Award (2006) and she was named to OUT Magazine’s annual list of the nation’s top OUT 100 Gays and Lesbians (2005).

Dr. Roberta Madison

Dr. Roberta MadisonDr. Roberta Madison is Professor Emeritus from the Department of Health Sciences at California State University, Northridge where she served for 35 years.  Dr. Madison earned an MA in History, an MSPH and Doctorate in Public Health at UCLA doing applied research in hearing loss in workers exposed to occupational noise. She was the first University Assessment Coordinator helping to develop guidelines for the university. She served on the Women’s Studies committee where she helped to change to its current status as a department in the College of Humanities. Dr. Madison was actively engaged in faculty governance, having chaired or served on all of the standing committees and also supported the faculty union serving for several terms as the chapter treasurer.

Dr. Madison published over 30 papers on environmental epidemiology and assessment and has been an invited speaker at international and national academic and health research conferences. Her work as an epidemiologist at the City of Hope on lung cancer research is most notable. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at My Friends Place, a safe haven for homeless youth. Dr. Madison was instrumental the establishment of the Phenomenal Women award and is honored to be a recipient.