BGSU honors six change-makers at the 9th annual Women of Distinction Awards
Recipients recognized for their contributions to promoting gender equity on campus
Bowling Green State University honored six powerful leaders for their significant contributions to ensuring equitable outcomes for all during the ninth annual Women of Distinction Awards on Thursday.
The Women of Distinction Awards honor outstanding leaders in the BGSU community who serve as role models and mentors to those who have faced gender or sex discrimination. The award celebrates their commitment to advocacy for gender equity and willingness to exemplify the University’s core values.
“Our 2023 recipients represent a diverse group of fiercely dedicated leaders from across the University, promoting gender equity and empowerment through their work in research, classrooms, athletics and mentoring,” said Kendra Lutes, assistant director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. “We are honored to present this award as a testament to the impactful work our BGSU students, faculty and staff are doing to challenge the status quo and make a difference in our community.”
Eligible recipients include undergraduate or graduate students, staff members, community/alumni or faculty members of all genders.
2023 Women of Distinction
Madison Baltimore, senior majoring in public health
Baltimore is recognized among her peers on campus as a trusted leader and mentor, always willing to devote her time to helping students in need. Through her role as a team leader in the Multicultural Student Link (MSL) program, Baltimore diligently works to ensure the retention and success of fellow students of color on campus, especially women of color. Many students affectionately refer to her as their “on campus mother” for her thoughtful guidance.
Baltimore said her goal is to help students find their community and connect them to crucial support systems, something she was privileged to receive through MSL during her first year. Baltimore is the president of the Epsilon Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an ambassador for the Black Student Union and a mentor for middle school students at Bowling Green City Schools. Baltimore will graduate in Spring 2023 and is planning to attend graduate school for public health with a concentration on maternal health.
“I don’t do the work on campus for recognition but seeing that it’s made enough of an impact for me to receive this award as an undergraduate student is really special,” Baltimore said. “It actually makes me emotional. Helping students find their communities and place at BGSU makes me very happy.”
Dr. Jess Birch, associate teaching professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies
Birch teaches courses in ethnic studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She is also the advisor of the Find Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community, a non-residential learning community that aims to empower students to turn values into action and transform their communities for the better. Her research focus is on societal narratives that rationalize inequality.
Birch is dedicated to mentoring her students, including vulnerable students and those with marginalized identities. She supports students in research and advocacy and prioritizes their mental well-being. Birch empowers, validates and encourages her students in their pursuit of excellence.
“One of the things I admire about Jess is her commitment to education. Not only is she an advocate to produce equitable outcomes around her, she has committed herself to teaching others to do the same," wrote her nominator. "She also has the most valuable trait a professor can have: the desire to learn from her students and see them as fountains of knowledge. She expresses genuine interest in the things we like to do, the things we are going through and our life experiences. It not only makes us feel seen but it allows her to see things in a different light and to grow in her empathy and understanding."
Birch is a member and regular presenter for the National Women’s Studies Association, the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the Popular Culture Association. She is also involved in the Midwest Popular Culture Association, serving as chair for Race and Ethnicity and Popular Culture and Pedagogy.
Libby Farren ‘22, research assistant in the BGSU Psychotherapy Research or Study of Connection, Intimacy and Loneliness (PROSOCIAL) lab
Farren is a passionate researcher deeply committed to advocating for individuals who have been discriminated against and those in marginalized communities. Her primary research interests include intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, fear of intimacy and their contributions to mental health disparities within marginalized communities. She recently presented research at the 2023 BGSU Symposium on Diversity on whether racial identity and mental health diagnosis influence an individual’s decision to make a vulnerable self-disclosure.
Farren presented at the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Symposium in 2021 on the violent victimization of Native American women and in 2022 on queer theory and disability studies.
"She intentionally sees herself in the context of larger systems and strives to see things compassionately from different perspectives,” her nominator wrote. She advocates for raising consciousness rather than tokenization. She evaluates how society has been constructed in a way that has been beneficial to herself while exploring how to dismantle systems to be more inclusive of those who are marginalized."
Farren graduated from BGSU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She will begin her doctorate degree in clinical psychology in the fall at Eastern Michigan University, where she will study gender-based violence and further integrate activism into her work by centering the diverse needs of survivors and their communities.
“It is an incredible honor to be connected to this extensive group of distinguished women who are working to achieve equality, social justice and liberation for individuals across all identities. Going forward, I hope to collaborate with them in thoughtful advocacy initiatives that disrupt structural inequities, not only those that impact people within the BGSU community but also the broader public.”
Lt. Col. Amy Grant, commander, U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 620
As the first female commander of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 620 at Bowling Green State University, Grant is committed to increasing the number of female officers and officers from diverse backgrounds through intentional recruitment activities and thoughtful discussions. Grant said that female representation in a historically male-dominated profession is critically important in developing future leaders.
Currently, 35% of the detachment is female, which Grant noted is higher than the Air Force’s national representation of 23% active duty female officers. Grant, who has served in the Air Force for 20 years, said she aims to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect and understands their value.
“There has been a shift over the last 20 years of more females in significant leadership positions, which influenced my decision to stay in the military,” she said. “I’m just hoping to offer that same kind of opportunity to this new generation of women.”
As commander, Grant trains and develops cadets to commission as Air Force officers ready to lead Air Force personnel and meet the nation’s security challenges. She is also a professor of aerospace studies.
“To me, this award is validation that I’m doing the right thing and making a difference in my specific detachment and the University as a whole,” Grant said. “I am very humbled to have been nominated, and it’s an absolute honor to have been chosen.”
Monique Rosati ‘10, director of women's basketball operations
In 16 seasons of BGSU women’s basketball, Rosati has worked behind the scenes, helping the program run smoothly. Her role as director of operations encompasses numerous responsibilities, from travel to assisting with students’ academic success, but one of her most treasured roles is mentoring student athletes. They gravitate toward Rosati for her guidance and support, many seeing her as a motherly figure. By exposing her student athletes to a variety of experiences and worldly perspectives, she hopes to help them achieve their professional goals and live enriched lives after graduation.
Rosati wholeheartedly supports the students in all they do - in athletics, academics and beyond. She prioritizes attending their graduation ceremonies and has been a guest at many of her former players' weddings, representing the bonds she creates with the students.
“I took this role because it is behind the scenes, but I value that I’ve become a person the players trust and can talk to about anything, whether it’s related to basketball, academics or life. It’s a heavy responsibility and one I take very seriously,” she said.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Rosati has a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Spanish from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in business administration with an accounting specialization from BGSU.
“I just think of myself as a good person hoping to teach and inspire the students to be good people,” Rosati said. “I don’t like the spotlight, but it is a very humbling honor to know my hard work and the impact I’ve made is deserving of this recognition.”
Dr. Meg Vostal ‘20, adjunct assistant teaching professor in the School of Counseling and Special Education
Advocacy is part of the national education standards for special education teachers and, therefore, is included in the curriculum of the classes Vostal teaches in the School of Counseling and Special Education. Five of Vostal’s former students spearheaded an advocacy campaign called “All Means All” to educate fellow special education majors and leaders in the College of Education and Human Development on Ohio House Bill 616. If passed into law, Vostal said the bill could have severe ramifications in education, particularly in special education.
The students’ advocacy work inspired significant changes to the curriculum in the Introduction to the Profession class, including the development of a six-step process for advocacy. The newly revised course, which Vostal taught for the first time this past fall, also includes a semester-long advocacy project of the students’ choosing.
“Meg has always brought attention to and educated her students at BGSU on equity. She taught me what it meant to advocate for my students and for myself. She has advocated for the accessibility of campus and the community. She also led our advocacy project 'All Means All,' which actively promotes equitable outcomes for all. This perfectly shows her dedication to advocating and reinforcing policies, practices, attitudes and actions for equity,” according to her nominator.
“I don’t necessarily think of myself as a leader. I think of myself as someone who leads through collaboration, working in tandem with others,” Vostal said. “There’s a special appreciation for an award like this that honors the way you want to contribute and that it doesn’t look like just one type of leadership. I’m grateful to the committee that they would be expansive enough to appreciate alternative types of leadership.”
Updated: 03/18/2023 09:22AM