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Page last updated on February 1, 2018 at 4:37 pm

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Sue Owens
Program Specialist
Community & Family Resources Department


Local Women to be Honored in March at Women’s History Month Events

Bloomington, Ind. – Mayor John Hamilton announced that seven local women will be honored during Women’s History Month in March for their outstanding service to our community. Dr. Maresa Murray, Dr. Sharlene Newman, Morgan Newman and Phoebe Powell will receive the Woman of the Year Award. Liz Feitl and Sandy Keller have been chosen to receive the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award, and Christie Popp will receive the Emerging Leader Award.

The recipients were selected by a subcommittee of the City of Bloomington’s Commission on the Status of Women. The Emerging Leader recipient, Christie Popp, will be honored at a Women’s Leadership Development event on Thursday, March 8, in Council Chambers at City Hall (401 N. Morton) beginning at 5:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. The Woman of the Year honorees and Toby Strout Lifetime Achievement Award honorees will be celebrated at the Women's History Month luncheon on Wednesday, March 21, at the Bloomington-Monroe County Convention Center (302 S. College). 

Women's History Month serves as an opportunity to recognize individual and collective accomplishments of women in our community. In addition, organizations for women and women-owned businesses will exhibit at the luncheon on March 21. An exhibit reservation form is available at 

The theme of this year’s luncheon is “Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women," with a keynote address by Dr. Byllye Avery. Dr. Avery is the founder of the Black Women's Health Imperative and has been a health care activist focusing on women's needs for over 40 years. She also is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need and a board member of Outer Cape Health Services. In addition, Dr. Avery is featured in the PBS program Makers: Women Who Make America. 

Dr. Maresa Murray, Dr. Sharlene Newman, Morgan Newman and Phoebe Powell will receive the Woman of the Year Award for their collective work on a study to examine the implicit biases of black and white young adults in Bloomington. The study focused on specific experiences of black girls in a predominately white town/school compared to the experiences of white girls in that same environment. Using focus groups and data collection the project showed young black women having more negative experiences as far back as kindergarten.

Passionate about helping younger generations of black girls, the women wrote an editorial for the Indianapolis Star that subsequently was picked up by USA Today. They met with school superintendents to encourage teacher trainings to better address issues related to race and gender, ultimately to help create equitable educational opportunities for young black girls and women in Bloomington. 

Liz Feitl, recipient of the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award, has been the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison with United Way of Monroe County for more than 15 years. Prior to that she served as the President and Staff Representative of CWA (Communications Workers of America) Local 4730 for nine years. She received the annual Indiana Women and Work award in 1996, and is a 2000 graduate of Leadership Bloomington-Monroe County. Liz’s community work includes being an active member of the Bloomington Rotary Club for more than 13 years, as well as serving on numerous boards, including CWA Local 4730, United Way of Monroe County, Indiana Workforce Investment Board Region 8, South Central Indiana Jobs With Justice, and many, many others.

Sandy Keller, also named a recipient of the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award, established a small thrift store, My Sister’s Closet, twenty years ago to help low-income women overcome the obstacles that keep them from entering the workforce. The idea was simple: give a struggling woman a suit so she could interview successfully. Today’s store (413 S. College) offers new and gently-used clothing, along with free interview skill workshops, job placement services and life training skills. Sandy has devoted her life to ensuring all women acquire the clothes and skills needed to find a job so they can enjoy economic independence and make better lives for themselves and their loved ones. Since its inception, My Sister’s Closet has directly assisted 1,900 women toward achieving self-sufficiency. Sandy’s efforts have been recognized with a Woman Excel Award and in 2017 My Sister’s Closet was awarded the Nancy Howard Diversity Award. 

Christie Popp, the recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, is a bilingual (Spanish and English) local attorney who provides legal assistance to women and families related to immigration issues and asylum. She holds free legal clinics at El Centro Comunal Latino in the Monroe County Public Library for those dealing with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and other immigration issues. She also has been involved with the Refugee Task Force at Beth Shalom, and she provides legal advice to the Bloomington Refugee Support Network. Christie has provided pro bono work for Shalom Center clients and has been a speaker at the American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual Conference as well as at IU events for international students.

The Women’s History Month Lunch program begins at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21. Doors will open at 11:15 a.m. for viewing of exhibits. The cost is $25.00 per seat, or $275.00 for a reserved table for eight. Tickets must be purchased in advance through the Buskirk-Chumley Theater Box Office (114 E. Kirkwood Ave) or online at Box office hours are 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance purchasing a seat to attend the lunch.