Our Partnership Council is made up of members from the community who advise the Women's
and Gender Studies program on community issues and opportunities related to the well-being of women and other
underrepresented groups. The Council also works to strengthen the Women’s and Gender
Studies Endowment and to raise money to support projects directed toward improving
the well-being of women and other under-represented groups throughout South Carolina.
2021-2022 Council Members
Madison Baker is a senior studying Women’s and Gender Studies and Political Science
at the University of South Carolina-Honors College and has a Certificate in Labor
Studies from the City University of New York. They coordinate the Last Lecture Series
for Scholars United and are very active in social justice, leftist organizing, and
political campaigning at the university and in the greater Columbia community. Their
research interests include critical theory, affect theory, postcolonialism, labor
studies, and queer studies.
Claudia Smith Brinson
Claudia Smith Brinson worked as a journalist for more than 30 years for newspapers
in Florida, Greece, and South Carolina. She was a national columnist and writing coach
for Knight Ridder, winning more than three dozen state, regional, and national awards,
including being named a Pulitzer finalist as a member of the team covering Hurricane
Hugo. She also covered South Carolina as a free-lance writer for The New York Times,
The Washington Post, and Newsweek. And Brinson is a short story writer who has won
an O. Henry. After teaching a course a year in the Honors College and English department
of the University of South Carolina for twenty years, she served as a senior lecturer
and program coordinator for the Writing for Digital Media major at Columbia College
for ten years. She is currently writing about the missing voices of S.C. black activists
during the civil rights movement.
Archie Crowley is a PhD Student in Linguistics and the Women’s and Gender Studies
Graduate Certificate Program at the University of South Carolina. Their work, which
focuses on language practices, ideologies, and linguistic activism within trans communities
is supported by UofSC’s Presidential Fellowship and SPARC Graduate Research Grant.
Archie is involved in a number of both on- and off-campus projects to facilitate greater
affirmation of trans, nonbinary, and queer communities, from UofSC’s LBGTQ+ Grad Student
Affinity Group, the Harriet Hancock Center’s Nonbinary Peer Support Group, and the
Committee for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Linguistics for the Linguistic Society of America.
Valerie Ekue, Chair
Dr. Valerie Ekue serves as the Chair of the WGST Partnership Council and as Director
of Membership Support and Community Justice for the South Carolina Coalition Against
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She provides expert training and technical assistance
for 23 member organizations, statewide community partners and allies. Dr. Ekue is
a member of the Richland County Fatality Review Team, Trauma Development Team and
the Workforce Training Collaborative. Dr. Ekue is also responsible for increasing
the capacity for member organizations to provide effective advocacy and outreach to
marginalized and unserved communities throughout South Carolina.
Sarah Ingraham serves as the Volunteer Services Coordinator at Sexual Trauma Services
of the Midlands. She recruits, supervises, and manages volunteers for the advocate
program, which provides hospital accompaniment for survivors of sexual assault across
Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Sumter, and Clarendon counties. She previously worked
as an organizer for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. Sarah received her BA in Women’s
and Gender Studies from the University of South Carolina in 2017.
Meeghan Kane teaches history at Benedict College, a historically black college in
Columbia. She edits Unsweetened Magazine, an online publication devoted to feminist
voices in the South, and she serves as President of Deckle Edge Literary Festival,
a festival devoted to southern storytellers who challenge the status quo. She is currently
secretary of the Women and Gender Studies Partnership Council.
Kayla Mallett is Coordinator for the South Carolina Citizen Review Panel, a federally
mandated organization tasked with oversight of the Department of Social Service's
child protection services policies. Kayla's career includes political organizing for
electoral and issue-based campaigns in SC and GA as well as program management for
Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands. She is a graduate of Leadership
Columbia, an honorary member of Columbia College's Phi Alpha Honor Society chapter,
and member of the 2018 class of the SC Black Page's "Top 20 Under 40." Kayla received
a BA from Columbia College in 2008 and an MA in Organizational Change and Leadership
in 2012. She is a member of The Language Buzz's Community Advisory Board, and a volunteer
for EveryBlackGirl, Inc and The Hive Community Circle. Her project, Black Women 2020,
centers the voice of Black women, exploring what they need to feel safe, seen, and
supported. Kayla co-chairs the City of Columbia Complete Count Committee, a multi-disciplinary
group charged with creating awareness and generating participation in the 2020 Census.
Maria A. Martin is Executive Director for PASOs of SC, a community-based organization
under the Center for Community Health Alignment and hosted at the Arnold School of
Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Founded in 2005, PASOs helps Latin@
communities and service providers work together for strong and healthy families. Maria
was born in El Paso, Tx. and raised in the U.S. by Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrant
parents pursuing a better life in the States. She has lived in South Carolina and
has considered it home since the tender age of 16. She is an individual who has always
sought to utilize her education, passion, and skills for the betterment of underserved
and vulnerable populations with a focus on supporting Latin@ populations that can
benefit from her bilingual and bicultural competencies. Maria is a proud community
health worker and has a Master of Social work degree from the University of South
Carolina. She also has 22 years’ experience of leadership and non-profit/public programs
administrative and community health work with statewide Latin@ communities in our
state. Maria is a committed community health worker, social worker, and professional
who has a heart for community work and understands how to meet communities where they
are and how to build upon their strengths for optimal wellbeing and lifelong success.
Robin Waites is the Executive Director for Historic Columbia and has served in that
capacity since 2004. A life-long resident of Columbia, Robin is well equipped to
work with the various constituents and issues that are key factors in the preservation
of historic assets and education on local history in South Carolina’s capital city.
A product of Columbia’s Richland School District One, Robin attended Middlebury College
in Middlebury, Vermont where she received a bachelor of arts with a double major in
Art History and Russian. She received a Master of Arts in Art History from the University
of SC in 1996 and subsequently began work at the South Carolina State Museum. She
served in a variety of capacities including the chief curator of art, which was her
position when she left the State Museum to work with Historic Columbia. As Executive
Director for Historic Columbia, Robin has overseen the transformation of the historic
buildings and grounds; established an expansive community engagement program in Columbia
and Richland County; and spearheaded a number of major historic preservation efforts
including the Palmetto Compress Warehouse and the 1600 block of Main Street. Robin
is active in the community, serving on the board of the Delta House, Inc., the SC
Humanities Advisory Council, and the South Carolina Dharma Group.
Barbara Wofford-Kanwat earned her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University
of South Carolina. She also earned her juris doctor and international masters of
business administration from the University of South Carolina. After graduation,
she worked as a staff attorney for the South Carolina Court of Appeals. In 2012,
she was appointed a Richland County magistrate. In her spare time, she enjoys spending
time with her family, practicing yoga, reading, and traveling.
Laura R. Woliver (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin –Madison, 1986) is Distinguished
Professor Emerita in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. She taught
at USC for 32 years. She became a joint appointment in Women’s and Gender Studies
in 2001. She served both Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies in faculty,
College, University and professional association committees, and as a mentor to many
students and colleagues. She continues her work on intersectional social justice through
her writings and activism. Professor Woliver specializes in American politics. Her
interests include gender and politics, social justice, social movements and activism.
Her current emphasis is on fair districting in American elections, voter protection,
and making democracy work for all people. She does this in her writings and her work
in the League of Women Voters of the Columbia Area.
Kayle Wright works for the State Innovation Exchange, a national resource and strategy
center that collaborates with state legislators to improve people’s lives through
transformative public policy. She works closely with the executive team to create
innovative internal policies and values-centered organizational culture. She previously
served as the Operations Manager for the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN),
a non-profit organization committed to advancing the health, economic well-being and
rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, and families. Kayle is a native South Carolinian
and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina.