WEST PLAINS, Mo. – March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO), Missouri State University-West Plains and The Tuesday Study Club of Willow Springs are sponsoring several free activities March 23 and 25 at the West Plains Civic Center to commemorate and celebrate the many facets of women’s history.
The celebration begins March 23 with the showing of a film about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the civic center theater. The film tells the true story of a pivotal event in American history when young activists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns took the women’s suffragette movement by storm in the 1910s and 1920 and, putting their own lives at risk, spearheaded renewed fervor in the movement through their protests on the street and in prison, eventually leading to ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
The celebration continues March 25 with a third showing of the film at 3 p.m., followed by a short presentation by Lou Wehmer, Willow Springs, on Rose Pastor Stokes, an internationally renowned women’s rights activist and one of the founders of the Communist Party of the United States of America, who was arrested by the FBI for sedition in Willow Springs during a national speaking tour.
The celebration will conclude with round-table panel discussion at 6 p.m. in the civic center theater featuring three West Plains natives whose career paths have taken them to the state and national stage. Zora Mulligan was appointed commissioner of higher education by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education on Aug. 3, 2016. Prior to that appointment, she worked for the board as assistant commissioner and as general counsel from 2007-2010. Her career path also has included stints as chief of staff for the University of Missouri System, assistant attorney general (2003-2007) and executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (2010-2014). She received her bachelor’s degree from Drury University and her master’s and juris doctorate from the University of Kansas.
A 2008 graduate of West Plains High School, Melody Schaeffer Zorich has been an advocate for healthy living. Following her graduation from Rockhurst University in Kansas City in 2012, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and moved to Newark, N.J., where she was employed by Greater Newark Conservancy to teach nutrition and urban gardening to children living in Section 8 housing and helped inner city high school students prepare for college.
Her work led her to enroll in the Master of Public Health degree program at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis, where she was involved in a pediatric cancer support program, tobacco disparities research and physical activity promotion. Currently, she works at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as an evaluation and analytics coordinator in the child health advocacy and outreach department, where she works on initiatives to provide children with free and quality health care.
Zara Petkovic grew up in West Plains and moved to St. Louis in 2011 to attend St. Louis University (SLU), where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree with a minor in health in 2015. Through an accelerated program, Petkovic graduated in December 2016 with a Master of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in public policy. She has worked as a graduate assistant for the SLU Department of Political Science and the Atlas Program, which has as its primary goal to increase awareness of the global issues that confront us today in an effort not only to promote discussion, but to inspire and inform action. Petkovic also attended the Public Leadership Education Network seminar on public policy in 2016. Currently, she is seeking a job in policy or political advocacy.
The discussion will be moderated by Jennifer Moore, Missouri State University journalist-in-residence for KSMU public radio. A “meet-and-greet” reception will take at 5:15 p.m. prior to the panel discussion, and a punch reception will follow the panel discussion in the civic center lobby.
For more information about this event, email CFO Senior Associate for Advancement Carol Silvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.