After defending her dissertation virtually instead of in person in April, Jatia Wrighten celebrated other important milestones of her academic career in the locked down virtual space. In addition to graduating with her doctoral degree in Political Science in May, she was recognized as the 2020 winner of the Schar School’s Gender and Policy Leadership Award.
“We are delighted to continue the tradition of highlighting the work of students who advance understanding of gender in the realm of politics and policy, and Tia’s scholarly contribution about Black Women and Leadership in State Legislatures is right on point, with an intersectional focus,” said Gender and Policy Center (GAP) founder and director, Bonnie Stabile. Associate Professor Stabile is also director of the Master’s in Public Policy program.
“We expect her novel ‘Heavy Lifters Theory’ to have resonance in the academic community and beyond as she begins her career as a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall.”
"This was such a pleasant surprise this morning,” Wrighten said when learning of the award earlier in May. “And it’s right on time for Mother’s Day! I am honored that I was chosen."
The Gender and Policy Leadership Award was established during the center's founding academic year (2017-2018) to recognize work by individuals on campus who are at the forefront of advancing knowledge and understanding regarding the role of gender in public policy, particularly where disparities in outcomes or representation are evident. That includes women’s representation in elective politics; public affairs education; women’s health and wellbeing; and gender-based violence.
The first GAP Leadership award in 2018 went to a pair of undergraduates who established the first Women's Leadership Forum and Women's Leadership Network on the Fairfax campus: Rebecca Dooley and Danielle Melton, class of 2018 alumni of the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Politics degree program.
Rebecca is now Social Media and Digital Communications Coordinator at Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and serves as a young alumna member of GAP’s Advisory Board. Danni Melton is a Master of Public Policy candidate at Harvard's Kennedy School.
In 2019, the GAP Leadership Award went to Schar School doctoral student Aubrey Grant, described by GAP Director Stabile as one whose “scholarly work and administrative acumen was foundationally the success of the newly established Gender and Policy Center.”