About IAMAS

Making Motherhood Better for All
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Let’s be better together

Helping Moms Be Their Best Selves.

IAMAS’ (International Association of Maternal Action and Scholarship) roots are as an academic organization, but our members are more than just scholars. We are activists from dozens of countries who want to help all moms be their best selves with the supportive, proactive community they need to do that.

We strive to increase meaningful conversation among maternal advocates regardless of their field or experience. Our members are educators, members of the media, politicians, community activists, health practitioners, businesswomen, and much more.

IAMAS wants to use our collective knowledge to help moms – whether it is providing information so they can get reform they need, supporting legislation that helps caregivers, or sharing the collective knowledge of women in differing communities and reimagining what could work in our won.

Most moms take the culture of motherhood as a given, when it doesn’t have to be. It can be better. We can expect (and demand) better support from our partners, communities, places of employment, and governments. Motherhood isn’t new, but the ways we support moms can be. Let’s be better together.

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.

Virginia Burden

Executive Director

Dr. Katie B. Garner

President

Katie Bodendorfer Garner, PhD focuses on motherhood, childcare, and labor equality. She has been executive director of IAMAS since 2019. In addition to teaching English and GWS courses, Katie runs consciousness-raising workshops for mothers. Her (in-progress) book covers interviews with nearly 100 U.S. women and addresses inequalities of work, childcare, and motherhood. Her academic publications include Palgrave, MaMSIE, Demeter Press and JMI. Dr. Garner has appeared on or in CBS, Chicago Tribune, Authority magazine, Fast Company, WGN Radio, and numerous podcasts. See more at: www.drkatiebgarner.com

Board Member

Dr. Andrea O’Reilly

Vice President

Andrea O’Reilly, PhD, is Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder and director of MIRCI (1997-2019), now IAMAS; as well as founder and editor of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative (1999-) and Demeter Press (2006-), the first feminist press on mothering, reproduction, sexuality and family. Dr. O’Reilly is the editor and author of 20 books including Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism, and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering. She is the two two-time recipient of teaching excellence awards. In 2015 was the first inductee into the Museum of Motherhood Hall of Fame. She and her partner are the parents of three fabulous and feminist adult children.

Board Member

Dr. Gertrude Lyons

Secretary

Dr. Gertrude Lyons, Lead Faculty member, Senior Life Coach and Director of Family Programs for The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is rewriting The Mother Code. 

Dr. Lyons is a leading edge trainer and educator in human emergence, lifestyle, parenting, leadership development, career, relationship satisfaction and success, and women’s development, and through her work inspires people to take control of their own personal transformations. She has made it her mission to challenge traditional notions of mothering by facilitating raw, open conversations around mothering, womanhood, and parenthood that no one else is having. She has spent the last 19 years empowering individuals, couples, parents and families to bring out their best selves through helping them realize meaningful, successful lives, with the aim of bringing new perspectives on personal transformation to as many people as possible. 

Today, Dr. Lyons is on a mission to help women reclaim their lives through mothering and create a safe space where women can express their dreams, fears, and truths around motherhood. We are all mothers, and together we can support and empower one another to be the best versions of ourselves.

Why are you on the IAMAS Board? I am on the IAMAS board because I resonate with the mission to support moms to be their best selves and I want to lend my energy to this effort. The 7 Core Beliefs of IAMAS are a pathway to build a mothering community for all women to take part part in moving our world in a needed direction.

Areas of Interest: Women’s studies; feminine leadership; curriculum design; facilitating groups; networking and connecting. Also, sacred travel, interior design

Board Member

Susan B. Clark

Treasurer

A native of Chicago, Susan has been at the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation since 2005, most recently as Director, Grants and Communications. Her interests are using technology, data, communications, and a racial equity lens to advance philanthropy and the non-profit sector. She is currently a member of the Center for Effective Philanthropy was a 2017-18 Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellow, through Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. An active member and volunteer of PEAK Grantmaking, she served as co-chair of its Midwest Chapter from 2009 to 2012. Outside the office, she is an avid photographer who has shown in venues across the country. She enjoys spending time outdoors, especially via kayak, and exploring the world with her school-age son.

Why are you on the IAMAS Board? I want to help close the access gap between maternal research and the moms who most need the information to make decisions about their work and family lives.

Areas of Interest:  technology, communications, data, racial equity.

Steering Committee

Haile Eshe Cole

Haile Eshe Cole’s background includes interdisciplinary research and teaching experience in Cultural/Medical Anthropology, Black/African Diaspora Studies, and Black feminist theories. Her scholarly interests include Black feminisms, community-engaged/social justice research methodology, Black motherhood, reproduction, and health. Over the years, she has conducted research on women’s mass incarceration and Black women’s maternal and infant health disparities in Texas. Her most recent research project considered how rates of maternal and infant mortality are impacted by on-going processes of racism and structural inequality. Eshe has served on the faculty at Texas State University, Amherst College, and Northwestern University and will start in the Fall of 2020 as an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut. In addition to her academic work, Eshe has worked for both the state and local government assisting with research and program development, served as a consultant to a number of non-profits, and has extensive experience with community engagement, training, and group facilitation. She devoted many years to community and social justice activism centered on the needs of poor and working-class mothers and women of color in Austin, TX and is passionate about reproductive justice work. 

Areas of Interest: Black Feminism(s), Black Motherhood, Reproductive Health and Justice, Activist Research Methods, and Visual Media

Florence Pasche Guignard

Florence Pasche Guignard holds a PhD in religious studies from the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland). She is an assistant professor in religious studies at the Université Laval in Québec City where she teaches courses on women, gender and religion and on South Asian religions (in French).

Her research explores issues at the intersection of religion and ritual, digital and material cultures, embodiment, and gender. Her most recent publications focus on motherhood, parenting and religion in a variety of past and present cultural contexts. She brings her interdisciplinary scholarship in conversation with anthropology, ritual studies, media studies, as well as with gender and women’s studies and, particularly, motherhood studies. See her website: fpg.bio.

Laura Lazzari

Laura is a scholar in the field of Motherhood Studies currently affiliated with the Catholic University of America and Franklin University Switzerland. She hold a PhD in Italian Literature from the University of Lausanne, a Master of Studies in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford and an MA in Italian, French and History of Art from Lausanne University.

I have taught and conducted research in several universities in Switzerland, the UK and the USA. I spent the last six years in Washington DC before going back to Switzerland where I currently work and live. In my research I investigate the representations of pregnancy, birth and postpartum in contemporary culture and society. In addition to this, I am a childbirth and postpartum educator. I strongly believe in empowering women and couples through gentle births and mothering. I am also interested in fighting obstetric violence and  in making women aware of their rights, choice and options during birth.

Abby Palko

Abby is the Director of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at the University of Virginia. Through the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality, she teaches her course, The Politics of Motherhood. She holds a Ph.D. in Literature (with a focus on Irish and Caribbean novels) with a graduate minor in Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her self-care practices include running (really, jogging at an excruciatingly slow pace), reading voraciously, and needlepointing. The joy of her life is raising a strong feminist daughter with her partner.

Areas of Interest: Her teaching, research, and writing focuses on representations of mothering practices. She is particularly interested in the ways that rhetoric about motherhood shapes and influences women’s mothering practices. In her book, Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature (2016, Palgrave Macmillan), she analyzes the ways that Irish and Caribbean women writers negotiate new understandings of the Good Mother; she has also published articles in a number of journals and Demeter Press publications. The most satisfying research projects she has completed have been the three books she co-edited with dear friends and colleagues: Mothers, Mothering and Globalization with Dorsía Silva Smith and Laila Malik (2017, Demeter Press); Cultural Representations of Breastfeeding with Ann Marie Short and Dionne Irving (2018, Demeter Press); and Feminist Responses to the Neoliberalization of the University: From Surviving to Thriving with Sonalini Sapra and Jamie Wagman (2020, Lexington Books). She is co-editing Monstrous Mother: Troubling Tropes with her mentor, Andrea O’Reilly (forthcoming, Demeter Press).

Jessica Spring Weappa

Jessica Spring Weappa is a certified narrative therapist (CNT) and doctoral candidate at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the School of Consciousness and Transformation. She is the founder of Mothering Futures and currently serves in the role of vice president of the board of directors for Pacific Sámi Society.  Her career path has included independent school teaching and administrating, curriculum writing, community development, professional theater, and birth work. Jessica’s life has been graced by strong grandmothers, two wonderful sons, and circles of wise women.

Areas of Interest: Matrescence, Regeneration, Maternal Health and Wellbeing, Archaeomythology, A/r/tography, Narrative Research, Human Development

Nicole Willey

Professor of English at Kent State University Tuscarawas, where she also serves as the campus Mentoring Program Coordinator. In the Kent State University system, she is a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning where she focuses on issues surrounding Mid-Career Mentoring for Regional Faculty. Now in her 17th year at Kent State, she has moved her research from a more traditional literary focus on Nineteenth Century  American novels, specifically sentimental novels and slave narratives, to intersectional research on mothering, memoir, and most recently fathering, parenting policies in academe, and mentoring practices. Her books include Feminist Fathering/Fathering Feminists, Creating a New Ideal of Masculinity for American Men:The Achievement of Sentimental Women Writers in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, and a co-edited collection Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives.  Nicole lives in New Philadelphia, Ohio with her partner of 20+ years, a feminist father and queer studies medievalist, their two teenage sons, and one hilarious dog.

Areas of interest: mothering sons/mothering against toxic masculinity and gender binaries, professionalization of mothers in academia, and mentoring.