Campus: CSU Northridge -- September 22, 2004

Cal State Northridge to Pay Tribute to Five Phenomenal Women

They are five women who have left their mark on the world.

Dr. Leila Al-Marayati is an advocate of women's health and Muslim women's issues. Donna Brown Guillaume is an innovative television producer. Bess Lomax Hawes has spent her life working to preserve America's folk heritage. Radio personality Sonali Kolhatkar has fought on behalf of women's rights and human rights in Afghanistan. Delia Mackey Rudiger has been a longtime supporter of education for women and minorities.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, Cal State Northridge officials will pay tribute to these extraordinary people by giving them the university's Phenomenal Women Award.

"The women that we celebrate are local women who are activists in their respective areas, whether it's in medicine or in the media. But they have each made an impact on people's lives," said Marta Lopez-Garza, interim chair of CSUN's Women's Studies Department.

The sixth biennial Phenomenal Women Awards ceremony will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Grand Salon of the University Student Union on the east side of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. The event includes a reception and silent auction to benefit the Women's Studies Department.

This year, a special honorary award will be given to Rigoberta Menchú Tum, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and a leading advocate of indigenous rights in Guatemala and in the Western Hemisphere.

The Phenomenal Women event raises funds to support the programmatic offerings of the Women's Studies Department. The money goes to sponsor Women's History Month events, send students to conferences where they present their research, support student and faculty research and support the Women's Research and Resource Center, the oldest continuing women's center within the California State University system. The award gets its name from Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Women," which recognizes the strengths, abilities and integrity of women.

Tickets for the event are $50 each and are available by contacting the Women's Studies Department at (818) 677-3110. For more information about the event, call (818) 677-3110.

Dr. Laila Al-Marayati is director of obstetrics and gynecology for California Family Care at California Hospital Medical Center, a staff physician at Northeast Valley Health Center and a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at USC. A founder of the Muslim Women's League, she regularly writes and talks about issues of concern to Muslim women, including women's rights under Islam, reproductive health and sexuality, stereotyping and violence against women.

A Harvard graduate and a television producer for PBS, HBO and CBS, Donna Brown Guillaume is known for her many successful television ventures, including the highly acclaimed HBO documentary "Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives." She also was the executive producer of HBO's "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child," an animated series featuring ethnic fairy tales. She currently is producing a documentary on domestic violence for the California Women's Law Center. A longtime activist, Guillaume is currently chair of Artists for a New South Africa.

Bess Lomax Hawes, whose family is known for its efforts to preserve American musicology, is a retired Cal State Northridge anthropology professor. She helped create and was the first director of the National Endowment for the Arts' Folk Art Program and helped establish the National Heritage Fellowship Awards. In 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. In 2000, the NEA created the Bess Lomax Hawes Award to honor those individuals who have made major contributions to the appreciation of the folk and traditional arts through teaching, collecting, advocacy and preservation work.

Morning host of a daily digest of independent news on radio station KPFK called "Uprising," Sonali Kolhatkar has undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas and a master's in astrophysics from the University of Hawaii. She is vice president of the Afghan Women's Mission, which works to improve health and educational facilities for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. She is an advoate of women's rights and human rights in Afghanistan.

Delia Mackey Rudiger recently retired from Cal State Northridge, where she worked for more than 35 years, starting as an office assistant in the English Department and eventually as chief of staff to the president of the university. She has been a longtime supporter of the Women's Studies Department and was known while at CSUN for her commitment to students, women faculty and faculty from underrepresented groups.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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