Fifteen Gallaudet University faculty women of color attended the tenth annual Faculty Women of Color (FWCA) National Conference April 1-3 in Arlington, Virginia. This conference is a unique educational and professional opportunity for indigenous and women of color in higher education to network, engage, and learn with colleagues from all around the country. It is held and coordinated by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Gallaudet University was a Gold sponsor.

FWCA included sessions on leadership, career advancement, personal well-being, scholar activism, system oppression, equal pay, how to protect selves, how to advance selves through the tenure process, how to find allies in the workplace, and dealing with microaggressions. However, what was missing was the disability lens, which the group of Gallaudet faculty women of color hopes to bring to future conferences, possibly as presenters. They also hope to bring Gallaudet female students of color to the conference for networking and mentoring opportunities.

Eight 15 Gallaudet faculty attended the conference in person, while the other seven joined virtually. The conference provided interpreters through a local small minority and woman-owned interpreting agency. 

Attending in person, shown left to right above: Pamela Collins, Anita Harding, Mary Dakim, Felicia Williams, Shilpa Hanumantha Lacy, and Teresa Blankmeyer Burke.
Missing from photo: Tania Thomas-Presswood and Ishara Ramkissoon.
Attending virtually: Vanessa Arp, Dolphia Butler, Thangi Appanah, Sanyukta Jaiswal, Cheryl Wu, Danielle Thompson, and YooJung Rhee.

Dr. Shilpa Hanumantha Lacy from the Psychology program was one of the in-person attendees.  She shared that while she had attended the conference before, this was her first time attending on behalf of Gallaudet University, and as part of a group of other Deaf faculty women of color. 

The conference provided a safe space for attendees to share their experiences in the workplace. They found many common threads and much empathy, and forged new lifelong connections. All in all, the conference served as a reminder that faculty women of color in the academy are still underrepresented and not fully recognized for their work and contributions to the academic community. Gallaudet faculty women of color plan to host a debriefing session in the next few weeks.

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