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Women of PennWest

Women of PennWest

Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson
“The women of California, Clarion and Edinboro are brilliant, powerful, successful, caring, innovative, and more. They embody grit and grace and make us proud, not only of their achievements, but of who they are as people. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, let us introduce you to a small sampling of these amazing women.

We look forward to celebrating the Women of PennWest!”
Dr. Dale
Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson
Presidential Lead
Pennsylvania Western University Integration Project

Interim President, California University of Pennsylvania
President, Clarion University
Interim President, Edinboro University
Women of PennWest logo.

California

Dr. Carol Bocetti
Dr. Carol Bocetti
Dr. Carol Bocetti spearheaded efforts to develop a conservation and habitat management strategy for the Kirtland’s warbler, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others. In 2019, the songbird was removed from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Sheleta Camarda-Web
Sheleta Camarda-Web
Sheleta Camarda-Webb is an 89, '94G, California graduate and has worked for her alma mater since 1991. She is the school’s interim chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer and will serve the integrated university as assistant vice president for Assessment and External Relations. She is a founding member of California’s Safe Zone Allies Program.
Divonne Franklin
Divonne Franklin
Divonne Franklin is a senior standout in athletics and academics. She recently competed in the 60-meter dash at the 2022 NCAA Division II Championships and is majoring in biology with a pre-med concentration. In 2021, she participated in the Science Communication and Outreach Fellowship to investigate causes and solutions for vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. Mathilda Spencer
Dr. Mathilda Spencer
Dr. Mathilda Spencer is a criminal justice professor at California. She started the Monessen Positive Action, an after-school collaboration between the Monessen School District, California, Monessen Communities that Care and the Monessen Public Library.

Clarion

Ruth Montenegro
Ruth Montenegro
Ruth Montenegro, ‘89, has been nominated by the Biden administration for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and her nomination is pending before the full United States Senate. Montenegro now serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. She is the sole magistrate judge in Imperial County, the first female to do so and the first Latina judge in the history of Imperial County in Southern California.
Donna Oberlander
Donna Oberlander
Elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2008, Donna Oberlander, ‘91, in 2020 became the first woman and first representative from the 63rd District to be elected Republican Caucus whip, the third highest position in the caucus. This is her third role in House Republican leadership. Oberlander has been a Clarion University trustee since 2009.
Jada Smith
Jada Smith
As an 8th grader, Jada Smith was upset when her school’s recognition ceremony excluded female athletes. She began to advocate for them with the school administrators and used her own birthday money the next year to create a scholarship for female athletes. Since then, Smith, a Clarion graduate student, has begun a nonprofit organization, Scholars with Athletic/Academic/Artistic Goals (or SWAG for short) that supports young women through college book awards, art school scholarships, mentorships and free workshops.
Dr. Sandra Trejos
Dr. Sandra Trejos
The journey to American citizenship started in 1992 for Dr. Sandra Trejos, when she and her husband left their home country of Costa Rica to pursue master’s degrees in the United States. More than 25 years, a doctorate and four daughters later, Trejos not only earned citizenship but was the speaker for the naturalization ceremony in fall 2016. She cast her vote for the first time in the presidential election later that year.

Edinboro

Retired Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder
Retired Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder
Retired Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder, ‘75, ‘76G, served as director of public affairs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and as an adjunct professor and lecturer in communications and public diplomacy at the NATO School and Sweden's International Training Command. She also held several senior positions in the Pentagon and authored several books. In 2013, she retired as the highest-ranking female general in the Army Reserves.
Dr. Irene Fiala
Dr. Irene Fiala
Dr. Irene Fiala, who has taught sociology at Edinboro since 2002, has scaled Mount Fuji, trekked Mount Tai, traversed the Mount Everest base camp and journeyed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – all while propelling students toward their own summits. Fiala, an animal rights advocate, is vice president of Ashtabula County Animal Protective League, where she promotes adoptions and joins in animal rescues. She introduced an Animals in Society class at Edinboro, the first course of its kind in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, and she volunteers at her local fire department.
LaToya Ruby Frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier, ‘04, is a Chicago-based photographer, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and associate professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She earned dual degrees from Edinboro in photography and graphic design. Inspired by her experiences growing up in the industrial town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier uses a range of media to capture inequalities that exist among cultural, racial and socioeconomic lines. A chronicler of social justice, Frazier is the winner of the 2015 Infinity Award for Best Publication by the International Center of Photography, and her notable shows include exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art and the Andy Warhol Museum.
Dr. Sian Proctor
Dr. Sian Proctor
Dr. Sian Proctor, ‘92, originally from Guam, is a geoscientist, explorer, STEM communicator and astronaut. In September 2021, Proctor made history as the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft, serving as the mission pilot for the SpaceX Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. Additionally, she has completed four analog space missions. She actively promotes sustainable food preservation techniques to reduce food waste on earth, and she was named to the prestigious Explorers Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World.