coffee with cool women

The SIUE Women’s Studies Program is proud to sponsor…

coffee with cool womensnacks-and-coffee

conversations with women of imagination and accomplishment

This program originated in a series of conversations with successful women about their career paths.  As one might expect, many cited long-term relationships with mentors in their field as crucial to their choices, but, more surprisingly, they also spoke about much briefer encounters with women who made them think, “Wow.  I want to do that.  I can do that.”

Coffee With Cool Women is a series of one-hour conversations in which “cool women”—women who have chosen interesting, challenging, and sometimes unconventional careers—meet with a small group of SIUE undergraduate and graduate students to talk about the pleasures, frustrations, and surprises of their professional lives thus far.  The setting is casual, the conversation is candid, and the coffee is fresh.

All cwcw sessions are held in the Women’s Studies Office (Peck 3407) and seating is limited.  To reserve your space, contact Prof. Alison Reiheld at However, feel free to stop by the day and time of the event to see if space is still available.

spring 2019 cwcw events

Randi Papke Friday March 22 at 9 am      

Come chat with this biologist and mother who lived a whole other life before going back to school to study science and become a professor at SWIC where she recently led students on a travelling course to study marine biology in the Gulf of Mexico

Katie Czeschin Thursday April 18 4 pm 

Come hang out with a really cool human who is a professional biochemist at Millipore Sigma and who is active in the local St. Louis cycling community, hangs out with makers and other folks who do STEM for fun, cleans up streams and maintains trails, and trains her dog in experimental physics and existential philosophy

Kate Manne Wednesday April 24 3:30 pm

Come talk shop or life with this philosopher and author who has dealt with online harassment and carved out a place for herself as a public intellectual and rigorous scholar while still finding time for antiquing, friends, love, and her fabulous pet corgi

fall 2018 cwcw events

Tuesday, September 18th @ 11am: Jada Taline, Sexual health and healing coach

Monday, October 8th @ 10 am: Brandace Cloud, Clay artist and Founder/Executive Director at The MAC (Macoupin Art Collective) in Staunton, IL

Monday, November 5th @ 10am: Tricia Stansfield (The Power of One Project), Founder/Executive Director Local nonprofit dedicated to empowering individuals to make positive changes

Tuesday, November 6th @10am: Kim Vrooman, Director of Development and Communications for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois

spring 2018 cwcw events

Thursday, March 22, 2-3 pm: Melissa Martinez, UN Diplomat in Residence

Tuesday, April 3, 2-3:30pm: Ijeoma Uluo, columnist and stalwart of Black Twitter and author of  So  Your Want to Talk About Race and our Featured Speaker

fall 2017 cwcw events

Monday September 18, 10:30-11:30 am:  Jamie Hileman

Jaimie Hileman is a Trans and LGBTQIA+ cultural competency, diversity, and inclusion training and educational consultant, and Executive Director of TES, the Trans Education Service of St. Louis. She also worked in the alcoholic beverage industry for many years and has a great deal of business experience. Ask questions, get answers, and chat about her life and work.

Tuesday Oct 3, 10am-11am: Shannon Lawton O’Boyle

Shannon Lawton  O’Boyle is an experienced midwife. She practices inclusive, evidence-based midwifery and is herself mother to several children. Come chat about her life and work and how she came to midwifery.

Friday Oct 27, 10am-11am: Sarah Palermo

Sarah Palermo has occupied many roles in her life: pastry chef, mother, community volunteer, and now Director of the Watershed Nature Center in Edwardsville, IL. Come chat about her life and work and about nature.

spring 2017 cwcw events

Friday Jan 20, 4-5 pm: Katie Stuart

State Representative Katie Stuart, formerly of SIUE’s own Math department, chose to run for public office for the first time last year.  In November of 2016, she won a seat in the Illinois Legislature.  Come chat about taking on a life of public service, being a woman in politics, and choosing to get involved at a higher level.

Wednesday Feb 22, 4:30-5:30 pm: Allison Sweeney

Allison Sweeney is lawyer with experience in municipal law and reproductive rights advocacy. She is one of only a few women working in municipal law in the St. Louis Metro area. She can speak on her experiences with pervasive sexual harassment, advocacy for abortion access, and the pursuit of the law as a profession.

Tuesday Apr 18, 10:00-11:00 am: Jana Giles

Jana Giles is a post-colonial studies expert and professor of literature at University of Louisiana at Monroe. As a bilingual person of Puerto-Rican and Anglo-American heritage, her interests focus on the political and aesthetic complexities of contemporary life.

fall 2016 cwcw events

Thursday, October 13, 9-10 am  Mary Kitley

Mary Kitley is a SIUE graduate and currently the Chief Directing Officer for St. Patrick’s Center, a non-profit is in downtown St. Louis that assists people who are homeless to find jobs, housing, etc.  The center aids our local community, especially women. Ms. Kitley previously worked for American Lung Association and is aware of some interesting information about women’s rates of lung illness compared to men’s (an understudied fact).  She also worked at Violence Prevention Center in Belleville, a women-centered organization.

Monday, November 7, 4-5pm Joann Condellone

Joann Condellone is a nurse midwife of long experience.  She is currently writing a book on her experiences providing reproductive care to women over many decades of shifts and changes in both medical technology and social context.  Ms. Condellone will also be delivering a related talk in the Women’s Studies speaker series. If you are interested in obstetrics, in nursing, in mothering, in pregnancy, or in childbirth, you may want to come meet and talk with Ms. Condellone.

spring 2016 cwcw events

monday, Feb. 1, 2:00-3:00 pm

jaime hileman

Jaime Hileman is the Board President of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, a St. Louis-based MO-IL human rights group dedicated to improving living conditions and visibility for trans*gender persons. MTUG was named 2016 Nonprofit of the Year by the LGBTQIA+ magazine Vital Voice. Ms. Hileman has a long history of work in the food and beverage field with respect to the business side of marketing, sales, and management. She has recently assisted the non-profit Grassroots Grocery with business decision-making in an area of Alton, IL, that has been designated a food desert by the USDA.


friday, March 25, 2:00-3:00 pm

randi papke

Randi Papke is currently the Chairperson of Biology at SWIC in the Metro East. She teaches biology and has done research in the biosciences. Her work has been mainly on butterflies and moths, including fieldwork which necessitated explaining to farmers why she was on their land with a butterfly net. But all of this came later in her life than you might expect. Before returning to graduate school to get her Ph.D., Dr. Papke had a whole other life, proving that you don’t ever have to be just one thing.


friday, April 8, 2:00-3:00 pm

laila gagnon

Laila Gagnon is an Edwardsville native, who attended SIU Carbondale. She is currently a senior sales rep at Johnson and Johnson – pharmaceutical sales focused on diabetes monitors. She also has multiple rental homes in the community that her and her husband have flipped and run as a business. Above and beyond this she ran a fitness company Forever Fit Boot Camp, teaching Bootcamp classes in town for seven years. She just decided to end the company due to time issues, however continues to teach work out classes at the YMCA. She is a good example of finding passion in your projects (forever fit, teaching work out classes)

while working in the business world (J & J), being your own boss (Rental properties) and balancing that with family (she has a two year old boy and a 5 year old daughter). She is also the daughter of a Caucasian Catholic woman and a Muslim Arab man, which in our current climate has led to some interesting experiences on her part, since she does not “look” like people think an Arab woman would look.

fall 2015 cwcw events…

tuesday, Oct. 20, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

pat piety

Pat Piety, the daughter of two Pentecostal preachers who pastored a church in East St. Louis in the 1940s and ’50s, is a writer, editor, educator and mother. Married at the age of 19, she worked her way through college while teaching third grade in O’Fallon, Illinois; maintaining a household; and rearing three daughters. She received a B.A. in English from SIUE in 1967 and an M.A. in English from the University of Dayton in 1970. She has taught English at eight institutions of higher learning, including two Historically Black universities. She has also served as a full-time writer/editor for the Kettering Foundation, the American Express Western Region Operations Center, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, among other institutions. After her retirement from full-time work in 2003, she wrote a regular column for a small-town Oklahoma newspaper. Her memoir, Don’t Get Yourself Talked About, opens with a moving description of the illegal abortion her mother arranged for her in St. Louis on her 15th birthday in 1958.


tuesday, Nov. 3, 11:00 a.m.-noon

meredith rataj

Meredith Rataj is a bilingual licensed marriage and family therapist and site director of St. Francis Community Services Southside Center in St. Louis, MO.  Ms. Rataj received her BA in Spanish from Truman State University and her MA in Marital and Family Therapy from Fuller School of Psychology.  She has lived abroad in both Spain and Argentina.  Ms. Rataj has worked as a bilingual therapist in community mental health since 2004, providing counseling to Latino youth, adults, and families in individual and group settings. Ms. Rataj provides clinical supervision and speaks regularly at universities and with law enforcement in the St. Louis area about cultural competency and working with immigrants in mental health.  She currently serves on the executive committee for the St. Louis Immigrant Service Provider Network.


tuesday, Dec. 8, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

rachael tompkins

Rachael Tompkins, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist serving patients in the Metro East.  She has a long experience in the areas of child welfare/custody issues and has worked extensively with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as well as a local abused women’s shelter. Dr. Tompkins also has a general clinical practice including individual, marital and family therapy with all ages.

spring 2015 cwcw events…

thursday, february 13, 2:00-3:00

dr. dolores cantrell, family practitioner

Dr. Delores Cantrell is a board certified family practice physician. She graduated from SIUE in 1981 with Biology/Premed degree, and after earning her medical degree, she completed her residency through the SIUE School of Medicine, specializing in family practice.  In her cwcw session, Dr. Cantrell will talk overcoming obstacles throughout her training and practice, as well as balancing her roles as a doctor, wife, and mother of three children.


thursday, march 26, 2:00-3:00 pm

prof. ladonna long, academic and advocate

LaDonna Long grew up on the south-side of Chicago and received her Ph.D, in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2009. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Roosevelt University. Inspired by her internship with The Chicago Metropolitan Rape Crisis Hotline as a graduate student, she has combined her research interest in victimization with activism.  Currently, LaDonna is a certified medical advocate with Rape Victim Advocates, and her research focuses on advocates’ experiences volunteering in the emergency room with rape survivors and their interactions with law enforcement and medical staff.

In her cwcw session, LaDonna will talk about the motivating factors to volunteer as a medical advocate and what are advocates’ experiences in the emergency room with rape survivors.


thursday, april 16, 2:00-3:00 pm

michelle krusiec, actor and advocate

Michelle Krusiec began her professional acting career at the age of twelve, and she has acted on stage and in numerous films, including roles in Sweet Home, Alabama, and Sunset Stories, among others.

In her cwcw session, Michelle will talk about the many hats she wears as an actor, writer, and advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.   Check her website for a glimpse into her work:


Our cool woman Hall of Fame:

Karin Caito, US Drug Enforcement Agency

The Hon. Ann Callis, judge, 3rd judicial circuit

Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter

Dail Chambers, Artist/Activist, and Co-Founder of YeYo Arts Collective and the Gya Galllery

Trish Cheatham, CEO of Think Tank

Joann Condellone, midwife, activist

Dr. Elizabeth Ferries-Rowe, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University

Bev George, enterpeneur

Prof. Jennifer Horney, Deputy Director, UNC Center for Public Health Preparedness  

Jennifer Lee, filmmaker (here’s a link to information about her film Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation)

Elizabeth Massie, writer, producer, and director (here’s a link to information about her documentary Compañeras)

Tanya Patton, Principal N.O.  Nelson School

Caroline Pender, owner, 222 Bakery

Lt. Carole Presson, Madison County Sheriff’s Office

Andi Smith, entrepreneur/owner, Beyond Timbuktu

Megan Smith, women’s advocate, St. Martha’s Hall

Monica Stump,  Human Trafficking Specialist, U.S. Prosecutor’s Office

Veronique LaCapra, biologist and science reporter for 90.6 KWMU St. Louis Public Radio (here’s a link to the KWMU Health, Science, Environment webpage)

Elise Waldman, Genome Analyst


WMST Office ~ Peck Hall 3407 ~ Campus Box 1350  ~ siuewmst@gmailcom