Women of Distinction

women of distinction 20(L-R) Chef Marissa Riffle, Katherine Walker, Megan McDonnell, Jennifer Ring, Dr. Lisa Dubose, Dr. Shannon Pelini, and Master Sergeant Jessica Barron.

The Women of Distinction award honors BGSU faculty, staff, students, alumnae, and community members with excellence, ingenuity and the ability to overcome barriers that still exist for women. The women selected for this honor represent a diversity of backgrounds, personal characteristics, life experiences and are lifelong advocates for promoting equity for women and girls everywhere. At the ceremony, a panel discussion will be held, allowing the six finalists to share their advice, inspiration, and experience.

Finalists are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Serve as a role model and/or mentor to other women and girls.
  • Exhibits dedication to empowering women and girls to achieve their goals
  • Demonstrates a commitment to the BGSU mission and encourages others to live up to BGSU’s core values:intellectual and personal growth, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurism, diversity and belonging, collaboration with each other and our partners, and excellence in all we do
  • Advocates for and reinforces policies, practices, attitudes, and/or actions that are intended to produce equitable outcomes for all while garnishing the respect within the community.
  • Is a leader who has made extraordinary contributions in her communities through their time, talent, and/or resources

Past award recipients

women of distinction 20(L-R) Chef Marissa Riffle, Katherine Walker, Megan McDonnell, Jennifer Ring, Dr. Lisa Dubose, Dr. Shannon Pelini, and Master Sergeant Jessica Barron.

Dr. Shannon Pelini is an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair of Biological Sciences at BGSU. She completed her PhD at the University of Notre Dame, followed by postdoctoral research at Harvard. Dr. Pelini studies environmental change using experiments with: butterflies from southern California up through Vancouver Island, Canada; ants occurring in Massachusetts down through North Carolina; and spiders, earthworms, and millipedes in Hawaii, northern Michigan and in northwestern Ohio. Mentoring is a prominent component of Dr. Pelini’s portfolio: 100% of her 9 graduate students won national awards for research and/or science communication. She co-founded a group called “Ladies Out Loud” (LOL) that provides a discussion platform—across faculty and graduate students in Biology—on issues and challenges women and other junior and senior scientists face everyday.

Jennifer Ring is the Sr. Secretary to the Chief Diversity and Belonging Officer, Jennifer McCary, in the Division of Diversity and Belonging.  In her role, Jennifer also provides support to the Division which includes the Office of Multicultural Affairs, LGBTQ+ Programs, TRIO Programs, the Center for Women and Gender Equity, the Center for Violence Prevention and Education, and the Office of Title IX. Prior to her position at Bowling Green State University, Jennifer was the Assignment Commissioner and Deputy Bailiff at the Findlay Municipal Court for 21 years.

Dr. Lisa Dubose serves as the Director of Employee Relations, Professional Development, and EEO/ and is also a Deputy Title IX Coordinator within the Office of Human Resources at Bowling Green State University where she additionally directs the annual HR Leadership Academy. With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Dubose has previously served as Chief Diversity Officer, Interim Vice President of Human Resources and Interim Vice President of Labor at Owens Community College; and the Director of Human Resources for Housing Authorities in Toledo and Detroit for over nine years.

Megan McDonnell is a BGSU Alumni who graduated in December and just started my first semester in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program! I am a Feminist Ambassador for the Center for Women and Gender Equity, a Student Supervisor in the Aquatics Department at the Student Recreation Center, an active member of It's On Us, and a volunteer at The Cocoon. 

Master Sergeant Jessica Barron is the Superintendent of the Air Force ROTC Detachment at Bowling Green State University. She enlisted into the Air Force on May 3, 2000, and hails from Baltimore, Maryland.

Katherine Walker is an undergraduate student majoring in Adolescent to Young Adult Education and minoring in Integrated Language Arts. I am dedicated to creating accessibility, inclusion and equal opportunity through disability advocacy and activism, community-wide educational panels, working through the use of D.R.E.A.M. (Disability, Rights, Education, Awareness, Mentorship) to bring awareness, building interpersonal relationships, mentoring within the disability community, and researching disability literacy's application in school systems.

Chef Marissa Riffle is the Executive Chef at BGSU dining. She took part in an exclusive program by Compass Group (parent company of Chartwells Higher Education) and partnered with General Mills. The “Women in Culinary Imitative and Chef Challenge” focused on the empowerment of female culinarians through dedicated training, leadership development programming, and skills competitions.

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Jill Carr, Dr. Sue Ellen McComas, Jennifer McCary, Lauren Ann Dial, Sydney Downing, and Dr. Deborah Woolridge.

Jill Carr '76 worked at BGSU for 40 years before retiring as the Vice President for Student Affairs. She has worked with BGSU students and staff in a variety of increasingly responsible positions enabled her to touch many lives and attain many professional and personal goals. Raising three children and sharing this responsibility with her husband has been the most rewarding experience of my life. She is delighted and humbled to be included among this amazing group of distinguished women.

Lauren Ann Dial '18 is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology studying children’s conceptualization of health, specifically in the domain of food. She advocates for gender equity and inclusion within her department as well as the larger graduate student body.

Sydney Downing is an undergraduate student majoring in human development and family studies. Sydney is dedicated to creating an equitable world, through areas such as LGBTQ issues, youth development, interpersonal relationships, sexual violence and the empowerment of women and children.

Jennifer McCary '05 '08 is the assistant vice president for student affairs and Title IX coordinator at BGSU. In her role, Jennifer oversees the areas of multicultural affairs, LGBTQ+ programs, the Center for Women and Gender Equity and Violence Prevention Center, and the Title IX Office. Prior to beginning at BGSU in January of 2018, Jennifer was the associate dean for violence prevention and resolution, Title IX coordinator, and the director of the Women’s Center at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. Jennifer earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts degrees from BGSU.  

Sue Ellen McComas, Ph.D. is an associate professor at BGSU Firelands, with courses focusing in communication studies, women’s studies, and theatre. Her pedagogical preference for experience based learning encourages students to become actively engaged in social issues to gain a practical application of subject content. She believes that stories of personal transition are integral for bringing awareness to various perspectives and subjectivities. This was most recently reflected in a staged performance of community narratives, Facing Addiction, Mental Illness, and Recovery in North Ohio.

Deborah Wooldridge, Ph.D. is a Professor and the Director of the Schools of Family and Consumer Sciences and has served as the the Associate Dean for Research and Field Experiences in the College of Education and Human Development at Bowling Green State University. Dr. Wooldridge served as the Founding Dean of the College of Family Sciences at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, as Associate Dean of Education and the Coordinator of External Funding at Southeast Missouri State University.  In Ohio, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Destiny House in Fostoria and the Domestic Violence Cocoon Shelter She is the budget administrator and co-writer of the funded AAUW Tech Trek Camp focused on STEM Education for 8th grade girls.

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Dr. Kate Dailey

"Now more than ever, it matters to have women like Kate in leadership positions. Kate leads with authenticity, strength, and empathy. She provides a voice for the disenfranchised, and is a strong advocate for social justice. Kate has made Firelands a better place, and we are lucky to have her."-Megan Zahler

Jadwiga Carlson

“ She is a pure joy to be around and it is refreshing to work with someone so positive and happy and passionate about their work. “ –Jenna Pollock

Lakeshia Dowlen

“Kesh makes sure she never forgets that although it will be difficult and rare to see folks in leadership positions that look like her, it doesn’t mean she can give up nor stop helping women of color in positions below her pursue leadership roles in their careers as well.”- Emalie Chandras

Rebeccah Knoop

“Becca is one of my role models, not that I would ever tell her. The way she handles herself in leadership positions and in our male dominated field is something I aspire to emulate. She stands up for herself and is intelligent, technical, ambitious, and efficient.”- Haven Brown

Madelaine Pope

“Madeleine likes to bring women's issues to the forefront of the courses that she teaches and analyzes them with her classroom. Through this, she provides an environment where all of her students learn and where the women of her classroom understand that their voices are heard and she supports them.” – Jessica Eylem

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Michaela Schrum
“Michaela encourages excellence, understanding, and conviction to improve one’s life and stand against institutional and personal forces which actively permeate throughout our society to keep people down. Her ability to appreciate, engross herself, and ultimately understand another’s culture and another’s viewpoint from their cultural perspective still amazes me.”   
  - Ryan Hankins

Pempho Chinkondenji
“Pempho has always been committed to causes that empower women and girls in her home country Malawi as well as the U.S. She co-founded the non-profit “Loving Arms.”   
    – Oluwafisayo Ilemobola Oke

“Pempho has demonstrated a deep care and passion to help girls and women of all ages and backgrounds to further excel in life.”  
     – Rebecca Beyer

Sara Chambers
“From doing female-centered theatre, to supporting students in their womanhood, to providing opportunities for women to come and activate their bodies, Sara does it all.” 
    - Christa Federico

Sheila Brown
“During her tenure at BGSU she has demonstrated her genuine concern, compassion and love for all students, particularly young women of all ages. Miss Sheila is one of the most well-known and most beloved people on this campus among students of color in particular.”
    - Taylor Riggs

Keji Kujjo
“Keji is great at thinking about other people’s development and sharing opportunities that may help them grow. BGSU is so lucky to have such a dedicated, passionate, and world-minded individual like Keji.”
    - Autumn Reddell

Maureen Doyle
“Through their work as a Student Leadership Assistant and president of Omega Phi Alpha they have worked hard to intentionally impart leadership development opportunities on women across a variety of constituency groups on campus.”
    – Anna Fredendall

Dr. Peg Yacobucci
“Peg has shown me, by example, how to advocate effectively for justice while keeping in mind the perspectives of positive outlook and humor.”
    - Dr. Andrew Layden

I value Peg as a role model, mentor, research collaborator and friend. I am a better person – and my career is in a better position - because of Peg.”
    - Dr. Lisa Hanasono

Amanda Dortch
“Anyone who doubts the capabilities of women as leaders simply needs to look at Amanda and all the things she is accomplishing. Unknowingly, Amanda inspires women, like myself, to step up and take action for what is right.  In addition, she empowers other women so that they feel confident enough to take the first steps to serving and leading others.”
    - Allison Laber

Ebonee Johnson
“I believe she posses the characteristics of an outstanding student leader who is ethical and compassionate in all she does.”
    - Dean Jodi Webb

 “I am so thankful to have met a woman like Ebonee Johnson, who pushes me to think critically, work hard for students, and empower other women to achieve their goals.” 
    - Danielle Parker

Christine Seiler
“I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude in words for how Christine has pushed me this year. Reflecting on all that has been accomplished and achieved on paper, I truly feel that it pales in comparison to what I have gained personally and professionally as a result of becoming closer with Christine.”
    - Maggy Dorian

Heather Golden
“Heather is an extraordinary woman who contributes to the overall success of the BGSU community everyday through her dedication to students and leadership as a higher education professional. She exceeds expectations in all aspects of her work and the students and community of BGSU benefit greatly from having her talent and expertise on campus.”
    - Katie Elmer

Dr. Susana Peña
“Susana is a strong advocate for the empowerment of women. You see daily in her efforts in helping to promote and foster the Women’s Studies department, supporting programs of the Women’s Center and in working with other women on campus…She has been a mentor to faculty, staff and students alike.”
    - Ray Plaza

Tess Cardoza
 “Tess is a wonderful mentor and friend to me. She does everything in her power to make sure that I'm doing all right and I have everything I need to be successful. Tess does the same for everyone else, as well. She is one of the most selfless people I know and she always puts those she cares about first.”
    - Emily Soster

Holly Grunn
“She challenges the women she interacts with to find their voice and use it to enact positive and sustainable change.”
    - Tiffany LeDonne

 “She is always kind with her words, and listens to others’ opinions before coming back with her own. Cooperation is very high on her list of skills because she is not someone to work alone.”
    - Tiffany Mitchell

Adriana Darris
“Adriana exemplifies what it means to be passionate, inclusive, and an active Falcon. She is a role model for the BGSU mission and core values. I believe that Adriana has laid a foundation of student activism on campus. This empowerment of her peers has been critical in helping to bring other voices to the table.”
    - Ray Plaza

Claire Austin
“One of the best parts about having Claire in my life is that not only do I know that she is there to support me but she is always there to teach me and help me better myself.”
    - Sarah Adams

“Claire embodies the service and leadership that BGSU hopes students will have a good sense of before they leave. She demonstrates leadership through all of her actions…she provides students with the opportunities and skills so that they may grow.”
    - Anna Voinovich

Tiffany Mitchell
“She brings educational opportunities to women on campus and encourages conversations that build confidence among her peers, contributing to the overall advancement of womanhood.”
    - Tiffany LeDonne

 “As Panhellenic President, Tiffany empowers a large group of women to achieve their goals by encouraging them to live out their values, take on leadership roles, get involved in the community, and so much more.”
    - Kelly Rowe 

Dr. Lilani Attygalle
“Without a doubt, Dr. Attygalle has become a role model to me. The time and insight that she has given to me, as an aspiring female physicist, is without a doubt invaluable. I believe that as a woman, it is hard to aspire to become something that you have not seen. Having Dr. Attygalle as a mentor has shown me that I too can fall in the footsteps of these great women. One day, when I become a physics professor, I would like to do the same for one of my female students.”
- Rebekah Thomas

Dr. Kristine Blair
“Blair encourages and challenges her students and colleagues: she genuinely wants everyone to do their best; her encouragement and assistance allows one to accomplish such.”
- Mariana Grohowski

Lashaunda Marie Brown-Clopton
“She has been prepared to speak truth to power in standing up for equality and inclusion issues. She has modeled the concept of lift as you climb. Even as a young leader she honors those who have inspired her, made others believe they can be part of making change, and then supported others in taking action.”
- Jane Rosser

Dr. Cordula Mora
“Cordula has contributed hugely to who I am today as well as what I stand for. Her intuitive nature and the way she asked questions when she did not know something gave me the encouragement to be brave, stand up for what I believed in, and to pursue my dreams. Being in her lab has given me the power to go for a career that is mainly male-dominated: academia and research.”
- Merissa Acerbia

Haley Seeley
“Through Haley’s thoughtful interactions with the women on campus through Greek Life and the Women’s Center she models a values congruent lifestyle in her own actions. It is not just her actions, but also through time and effort devoted to explaining ways for students to help creative positive changes in their community.”
- Tessa Carson

Dr. Kacee Ferrell Snyder
“My interactions with Kacee have had a significant impact on my understanding and awareness of the unique experiences of women in the workplace. As a colleague and supervisor of women, I am grateful for her willingness to engage me in meaningful discussions and to hold me accountable for continuing to grow in this area, hopefully contributing to greater efficacy on my part as a colleague and supervisor.”
- Garrett Gilmer