YVONNE PAYNE DANIEL, MA ’75, DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT
Yvonne Payne Daniel is a world-renowned scholar in the fields of dance studies and Caribbean and African diaspora studies, with myriad achievements too extensive to capture. After receiving her MA in dance from Mills, Daniel went on to receive another MA and a PhD from UC Berkeley in anthropology. She became a professor of dance and Afro-American Studies at Smith College for 15 years, taught in the dance department at Mills for nearly a decade, and has been a visiting scholar at Mills and the Smithsonian Institution.
Daniel is a Ford and a Rockefeller Fellow, and she has received notable awards for her work, including the Katherine Dunham Legacy Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Black Dance Association, and the Phenomenal Woman Award from Mills’s own Alumnae of Color Committee (AOCC) in 2021. She has published six books, many of which have won awards, and more than 50 articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries, and she has edited four video documentaries on dance and African diaspora religions. She has been invited to speak around the world, from Peru to the West Indies and from Brazil to Amherst College. Most recently, she gave the keynote addresses for the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance and the Tourism Research Conference at University of California, Berkeley, both in 2022.
She was nominated and introduced at the awards ceremony by Myila Granberry ’05, and noted herself that her nomination for the award showcased realignment among the AAMC. Daniel has long been committed to Mills College, from her time on the Board of Trustees to her current membership in Mills College Founders’ Society and the AOCC.
BONNIE REUTER LEAVER ’58, OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER
After attending Mills, Bonnie completed a BA in theater arts from UC Berkeley, but in her heart, she has always considered Mills to be her true alma mater. Since then, she has been a major donor to Mills College and the AAMC, as well as a board member of the Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae and Orange County Alumnae chapters for more than half a century—the latter of which she joined in 1964. She maintains the history of the Los Angeles branch, and is a living piece of Mills history.
Bonnie has been a mentor to many, including L.A. branch members Julia Almanzan ’92 and Sonja Piper Dosti ’92, who nominated Bonnie and introduced her at the Saturday luncheon at Reunion. When Sonja graduated in 1992 and moved to L.A., Bonnie invited her and another Mills alumna to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. “That night was the beginning of my 30-year friendship with Bonnie,” Sonja said in her introduction. Upon connecting with Julia shortly thereafter, the three become close friends whose bond transcended their Mills connection.
Bonnie has hosted nearly every president of Mills College at her home since Mary Metz (the list is only missing Beth Hillman, thanks to a move and the pandemic). She has given her time and resources to alumnae wherever she goes in whatever manner she can.
SHANTÁ “SHAY” FRANCO-CLAUSEN ’22, RECENT GRADUATE
A resuming student, Shay just graduated from Mills with a degree in Politics, Econ, Policy and Law (PEPL) while working full-time and raising five children. As a student at Mills, she was an expert speaker in many of her classes, and still works with public policy deans and professors as a researcher. She is also collaborating with Professors Ashley Adams, Darcelle Lahr, and Erika Weissinger for this coming Black History Month, as a co-host at Mills.
A fierce advocate for justice and democracy, and a community leader, Shay was elected in 2018 as vice chair of Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, a position she held until 2021. She is a community activist and progressive advocate who has served on the boards of nearly a dozen organizations, including the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women and the National Black Justice Coalition “Good Trouble Network.”
Shay has dedicated herself to building a safer, more equitable world for women—particularly women of color and the LGBTQIA+ community. She created legislation that changed the statute of limitation on felony domestic violence and was featured at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival for that leadership. She has worked toward creating racial justice in the California Constitution, through a state constitutional amendment that eliminates “involuntary servitude for punishment of a crime.” Additionally, Shay ran the statewide campaign for Proposition 17 in 2020, which restored the voting rights of people on parole, and she has been featured in Time and Ms. Magazine for her work towards gender equity.
She was nominated for the award by Darcy Totten ’03 and Angela Adams DeMoss, MA ’99, and introduced by DeMoss at the luncheon.