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New women’s leader gets warm welcome

The Women’s Leadership Institute has a new director with firm goals of integrating the mission of the institute with students’ academic interests said campus officials.

Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, a tenured professor of San Francisco State University and former social worker for 12 years, is well suited for Mills and the position according to her colleagues.

Deborah Santana, ethnic studies professor, believes that Mills made the right choice in hiring Okazawa-Rey.

“Mills has made an excellent choice in hiring the new director of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, she said.

“She exhibits the energy, experience and vision that the position requires.”

Also new to Mills this semester, Lisa McRipley, diversity director and assistant dean of students, has already felt Okazawa-Rey’s vision for the institute.

“What stood out the most was her definition of leadership,” McRipley said. “She believes in leadership where the teacher also becomes the learner and the learner becomes the teacher. It’s not about hierarchy.”

According to Santana, Okazawa-Rey is well known nationally and internationally as a scholar-activist.

“I am familiar with her impressive research and publications on issues of gender, ethnicity, violence and the military,” Santana said. “As a scholar-activist she has successfully organized conferences and most importantly followed up on meetings to set in motion on-going collaborative work.”

Okazawa-Rey will continue her vision of collaborative work here at Mills. Her first role as the new director of the Women’s Leadership Institute is to familiarize her self with the Mills community with a goal toward creating more collaboration with the Women’s Leadership Institute. Her first step toward this goal is to generate more student involvement.

“I come here with having a vision of a great deal of student involvement,” Okazawa-Rey said. ” I want to do that by trying to establish a student advisory group so that I can get direct input from students about what you all [students] think women’s leadership is.”

Okazawa-Rey also said she wanted to make sure the work she does within the institute and her work with students to be part of students’ formal educational experience.

” I want us to be engaged in a research project or an activist or service project that ties in students interest and some relevance to a particular course or major,” Okazawa-Rey said. ” The institute, the student and their perspective area of study will really complement one another.”

Okazawa-Rey has lined up a series of events to create her goal of integration, raising awareness of activism and women’s leadership. She is organizing, with the help of students, a silent pro-peace anti-war vigil for Monday, Oct. 7 to be held on Suzanne Adams plaza.

In the spirit of creating collaborations, Okazawa-Rey is planning a film series to help foster what she calls ” intergenerational dialogue.”

” There is a separation of generations,” she said. “We tend to stick to our own age groups. I want to identify the differences and similarities in the ways that older and younger women think about leadership. Older women can learn from younger women and younger women can learn from older women.”

The intergenerational dialogue will consist of evenings and lunch film viewings complete with a student and faculty panel to discuss women’s leadership.

The screenings will begin on Oct. 15 and continue every Tuesday until Nov. 5.