2012 Unsung Heroine Award Winner

Lillie graduated from Duke in 2012 with a Cultural Anthropology major.  After commencement, she will be participating in a ten month IDEX Fellowship in Hyderabad, India.  As a fellow, she will be partnered with an Affordable Private School and will assist with such tasks as curriculum development, teacher training, leading after-school programs, fundraising, and administrative duties. The fellowship also has a focus on social entrepreneurship, so she will have a secondary volunteer position with a "social enterprise" business. Upon completing the fellowship, she plans to travel through southeast Asia. Ultimately, Lillie hopes to pursue a career in international development or international relations with a focus on southeast Asia.

A peer nominated her for the Unsung Heroine award. 

From the nomination letter:

“Lillie was selected as one of ten student interns at the Women’s Center for the 2011-12 academic year.  At the time of her acceptance, Lillie was already an active volunteer at the Center, helping to coordinate events for the Women’s Collective during Feminist Week and inviting students who have never been to the Center to come explore and share the space through the Monday Night Live program. Lillie’s efforts to immerse herself early in the work of the Center showed much initiative and dedication; due to the limited capacity of its staff and interns, the Women’s Center has not had a comprehensive volunteer program that involves students who have not already been accepted as interns. Lillie’s willingness to go out of her way to volunteer belies a deep concern for the issues facing women and a strong enthusiasm for supporting work that tackles these issues.

As an intern, Lillie’s primary responsibility was in the area of sexual assault prevention on campus. As a student trainer with the Prevent Act Challenge Teach (PACT) program, Lillie worked with her fellow trainers to conduct regular bystander intervention trainings for Duke students, to educate her peers on the real but often invisible problem of sexual assault, and empower them to act as effective bystanders.  Lillie spent countless hours trying to perfect the curriculum and to think of new and creative means to engage her peers on an issue about which many are uncomfortable speaking openly.  In addition, sexual assault exists within a societal context that continues to marginalize survivors and victim-blame, making the impact of trainings such as PACT often imperceptible.  However, this only strengthened Lillie’s resolve to work on these problems in the long-term and built up her capacity as a dedicated yet patient activist.

At the same time, Lillie recognized the need for women to not only respond to sexist initiatives in the political, economic and social spheres, but also actively address these issues through alliance- and community-building.  As a secondary focus to her internship, Lillie worked to sustain and constantly reinvent the Women’s Collective, a dialogue and activity space for Duke women to share experiences, break down barriers, and create self-meaning in their lives that is not measured against a “male standard.” Ultimately, Lillie is not concerned with women as issues; she is concerned with women as people, people who deserve spaces where they are treated with compassion, where their voices are given worth and not marginalized or diminished.

Lillie’s dedication to gender justice went beyond her immediate responsibilities as a Women’s Center intern. As a student in the Women as Leaders class in spring 2011, Lillie worked on a project related to mandatory and comprehensive first-year education about gender violence. Over the past summer, Lillie also interned at the Third Wave Foundation in New York City through the DukeEngage program led by the Women’s Center (the Moxie Project).  As part of the follow-up course, Lillie held focus groups to provide an update on gender relations in the academic, co-curricular, and social activities of Duke undergraduates, in an effort to develop institutional policies that continue to chip away at the gender gap. Despite the conclusion of the Moxie Project, Lillie has recently taken on another project with her classmates in the capstone course, initiating a process to question the university’s decision to reduce the statute of limitations for reporting sexual misconduct from two years to one.

Lillie’s interest in gender issues is also well integrated with her budding academic career. For her senior thesis, Lillie chose to examine the phenomenon of strip clubs and how feminism might be incorporated into this movement. Lillie’s commitment to women’s issues is indeed broad and multi-faceted.

I have been impressed by the depth of her engagement, her sense of responsibility and determination in working for gender equity and women’s empowerment. More importantly, I am amazed at her continued humility and her firm belief that a true solution to the systemic obstacles women face must be a collaborative one.”

Lillie adds, “I am inspired to do this work because it is always incredibly energizing to meet new people who are equally passionate about preventing gender violence. I try to help create spaces where those connections can be made so that students can work together to effect positive change at Duke.”