AAMC News & Notes

A Message from the AAMC President and Board of Governors: Winter 2023

Hello alumnae,

I hope your holidays were eventful and memorable, with smiles, hugs, and laughter abounding. The busy fall departed as snow made an early debut in the Sierras, as midyear Mills graduates celebrated their achievements in December, and as continuing Mills students completed their fall semester. Hopefully all students were enriched by the beauties and the amenities that our campus extends to all.

And now we are in a new year, with a momentous decision ahead of us: The AAMC Board of Governors is in the process of formulating a new direction for the AAMC, taking into account all of the feedback given by alumnae. In all of their decision making, the Board of Governors has listened to the wants of our membership: transparency, a true voice in the process, and more concrete information.

Accordingly, the Board of Governors has concluded that it would be unwise to hold a vote on the proposed options in this issue of the Quarterly without first exploring these avenues with Mills College at Northeastern University and its Office of Alumnae Relations administrators and, in doing so, answer many of the unknowns that have surfaced. Vice President Kathy Roskos, Vice President Pam Roper, and I are scheduling meetings with the administrators to work to facilitate the unifying outcomes that you generally requested. With your support, and time, we believe we can offer you a clear vision of the future of the AAMC on which you can vote.

After processing the opinions shared from the more than 505 alums who participated in the AAMC outreach activities to date, the desire for more information was the commanding thread. On a positive note, what was learned was that regardless of the proposed adoptions, these desired outcomes had widespread support:

• To continue to connect with Mills alumnae
• To emotionally and financially support legacy Mills students who began their studies pre-merger
• To promote women’s education and to nurture populations traditionally served by Mills: first generation students, LGBTQ+ students, women of color, students of nontraditional age
• To maintain a presence on the Mills campus
• To continue the long-standing agreement to use Reinhardt Alumnae House

Our comment period, outlined below, was vital to understanding the values and goals of our membership. An important goal that surfaced over and over throughout our comment period was a desire to retain Reinhardt Alumnae House, and therefore a campus presence. However, many alumnae believed they lacked the information needed to make an informed decision. Some of the most common questions included:

• Will the AAMC be permitted to stay in RAH under Option 1?
• What financial support will Mills College at Northeastern provide under Option 2?
• Under Option 1, what charitable activities will allow the AAMC to remain a 501(c)(3) organization?
• How can the Mills legacy be promoted at Mills College at Northeastern University?

Our love for the heart of Mills College is what unites us. No matter which option we prefer, all alumnae can agree that the legacy and spirit of Mills College is worth preserving, whether through our independent organization, through Mills College at Northeastern University or the Mills Institute, or anywhere else. We do not quite know which avenue will best allow us to do this, and certainly do not want to close any doors by taking a vote too early—but we do know that we will need a strong alumnae base to help lead us there. You have already done so much to help, and we thank you for your continued support of the AAMC. Please comment and ask questions anytime regarding this new path and timeline proposed by Board of Governors by sending an email to info@aamc-mills.org. And if you haven’t already done so, please share your contact information with the AAMC at aamc-mills.org/update-contact-info.

All the best to you and yours in the new year, and keep your Mills memories, your Mills friends, and the AAMC in your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Debby Dittman, AAMC President
president@aamc-mills.org


Timeline of membership outreach for AAMC’s future

  • October 8: During Reunion, the AAMC presented the options chart at an information session and later held an interactive discussion in small groups led by BOG members. About 70 alumnae attended each session.

  • October 14: An email publicizing the options chart & linking to the online feedback form was sent to 12,000 alumnae. Recipients were also given a link to register for upcoming open Zoom forums.

  • October 17: Alumnae without email addresses on file were sent letters with the same information, with a call to send the AAMC their email addresses.

  • October 27–29: Two open forums were held via Zoom by BOG members. Times were scheduled to accommodate those in other time zones. In these sessions, the hosts presented information and alumnae were allowed to speak for three minutes each. About 45 alumnae attended each session, which were recorded and put on the AAMC website.

  • October 17–November 4: Alumnae were reminded approximately eight times on social media and through our own email list of ~5,000 contacts about the end of the comment period and the open forums.

  • November 4: The comment period ended, and the AAMC began compiling the results published here, as well as on the inside back cover of the print edition of the Quarterly.

  • November 4–December 4: The Communications Committee worked to digest information gathered from the comment period in order to present a report to the Board of Governors.

  • December 5: The Board of Governors met to discuss the results of the comment period and agreed to wait on a vote for the three options until more information is gathered through conversations with Mills College at Northeastern University. As of press time, these conversations have begun. The AAMC will keep alumnae informed via email and on its website.


2022 Alumnae Awards

AAMC President Debby Campbell Dittman ’68 stands behind 2022 Alumnae Awards recipients (left to right) Shay Franco-Clausen ’22; Yvonne Payne Daniel, MA ’75; and Bonnie Reuter Leaver ’58. Photo by Alli Novak.

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.


AAMC Travel 2023

Mexico
Discover the vibrant culture and impressive history of Mexico’s Yucatán on this first-class small-group adventure! Spend seven nights in colorful Mérida, a colonial-era beauty, and explore the magnificent Mayan cities of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, the golden city of Izamal, and the Celestún Estuary, home to flocks of bright pink flamingos! Savor delectable cuisine, traditional music and dancing, and a fun excursion of your choice in Mérida. Includes expert guides and lecturers. No single supplement!

Morocco and Canary Islands
Explore the stunning natural beauty of the Canary Islands and treasures of the rose-pink cities of Morocco on this one-of-a-kind journey, featuring scenic coastlines and idyllic ports rarely visited by larger vessels. Visit La Palma’s Mirador de la Concepción for spectacular views of Caldera de Taburiente. Discover iconic Casablanca and enjoy full-day excursions to the island of Tenerife and Teide National Park, the 1,000-year-old city of Marrakesh and the ancient city of Fez. Enhance your journey with the Las Palmas Pre-Program Option and/or the Casablanca Post-Program Option.

See the AAMC Travel Program website at aamc-mills.org/travel-programs for more information.