MAILED: Oct. 25, 2000
Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire employees were among the four recipients of the Girl Scouts of Indian Waters Council Women of Distinction award.
Jodi Thesing-Ritter, residence hall director of Towers Hall-North, and Laurel Kieffer, lecturer of women's studies, were selected for the award that honors women who perform beyond the expectations of their jobs by providing service to the community. Community members from the 15-county council nominated women for the award.
Thesing-Ritter was honored in the category "Women Promoting Pluralism" for her work with diversity education at UW-Eau Claire. Her efforts have included the Tunnel of Oppression, which has been honored nationally as a residence hall diversity program. She also has advised UW-Eau Claire's diversity task force, Making Our School An Intercultural Community also known as MOSAIC which has received the award for National Residence Hall Diversity Organization of the Year and UW-Eau Claire Campus Organization of the Year. Thesing-Ritter has served for three years as an instructor for a women's studies class that teaches about race, class and gender, and she has led a team of students who deliver classroom presentations to promote diversity.
Thesing-Ritter said she was honored to receive the award.
"The fact that I was honored speaks to the importance of promoting diversity awareness in the Eau Claire community," Thesing-Ritter said.
Kenlyn Kjesbo, Girl Scouts of Indian Waters Council board member and family transportation specialist for WestCAP's JumpStart Program, believes Thesing-Ritter was very deserving of the award.
"Jodi's contribution to campus and her community reach far beyond what she is contracted to do at UW-Eau Claire," Kjesbo said. "The consciousness-raising curriculum through MOSAIC is a project that will have lasting effects on campus and the community. Jodi's efforts toward creating awareness and diversity are her passion and talent."
Kieffer also was honored at the Women of Distinction banquet. She was recognized in the category "Women Preparing Young Women for Responsible Adulthood" for her work in awareness of poverty and abuse issues with women and their families. Kieffer has served as executive director for Family Support Services in Chippewa Falls. Under her supervision, the nonprofit organization grew to foster abuse counseling, advocacy, temporary shelter for battered women and a safe drop-off point for children in domestic disputes. Kieffer started her own consulting business, which works with organizations to facilitate change to help them better meet the needs of their clients. She teaches a course on violence and women at UW-Eau Claire and has trained law enforcement officers in domestic violence response.
"She is the cornerstone of the grassroots movement in the Chippewa Valley towards fighting domestic violence," Kjesbo said.
Kieffer said she, too, was flattered to be chosen for the award, especially when looking at previous recipients.
"It's an honor to know that I am included in a group of women who are making a difference in the community," Kieffer said.
Tricia Collier, director of fund development and communications for the Girl Scouts of Indian Waters Council, said Senior Girl Scouts were invited to attend the awards banquet.
"It gave these young women a chance to see women being recognized and praised for their work in the community," Collier said.
An award certificate and a Women of Distinction pin were presented to Thesing-Ritter and Kieffer at the 2000 Women of Distinction banquet Monday, Oct. 16.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 25, 2000