"Women of Distinction" Have UMD Ties
The Seventh Annual Duluth Women of Distinction award was held on November 11, 2010, and three of the women honored have ties to UMD. The YWCA award recognizes women who have made significant contributions in their community. The event promotes the YWCA mission and dedication to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
Successful Coach, inspiring woman
UMD Women's hockey coach Shannon Miller has met with great success both on and off the ice. She spearheads a program with an unequalled record of national five titles and three consecutive NCAA trophies. Miller was also given the Canadian Advancement of Women in Sport award shortly before leaving Canada for UMD in 1998. Since then she has been an asset to the university, earning the 2000 and 2003 American Hockey Coaches Association Women's Division 1 Coach of the Year award. She has also achieved success coaching on an international scale in the 1998 Olympics and the Women's World Ice Hockey Championships in 1992, 1994, and 1997.
A woman responsible for advancing women's rights at UMD
Dr. Jane Maddy has been a leader in women's rights for decades. In the 1960s and 1970s she worked with the Greater Minnesota Women's Alliance to pass the ERA. She also established the first women's studies course at UMD, later working to establish it as its own department. On top of that she served as the first chair of the UMD's Women Commission and was a founding member of the Human Development Center Foundation. She has also served in numerous civil rights and health organizations: the Human Rights Commission, the Women's Health Center Board, both the local and state AAUW, and the UMD University for Seniors Brownlee Endowment Committee. Retired from UMD, Maddy continues to be an inspiration.
A "rock" and inspiration to her family and community
Sharon Witherspoon is a woman of faith and strongly believes in the power of prayer. She is the wife of the late Rev. Sylvester [Doc] Witherspoon and is a dedicated mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and “a rock” in both her family and the African American community. Witherspoon is seen as a leader, a mediator, a role model, and is looked up to by several generations. She believes in the importance of culture and dismantling racism. Over the past 20 years, she has worked tirelessly for economic and social justice and is a strong advocate for educational equity for all students, particularly for students of color. She dedicates volumes of hours to volunteer work, serving on numerous committees and boards including: CHUM (Churches United in Christ), the Duluth School District’s Education Equity Advisory Council which she chairs, and the African American Education Advisory Committee which she facilitates. Witherspoon also is the secretary of NAACP Duluth Chapter and participates on several anti-racism groups. She is currently employed in the UMD Office of Financial Aid and Registrar, as supervisor of the Student Assistance Center. She is committed to supporting students in their educational pursuits.
Written by Zach Lunderberg. Information and photos provided by Duluth YWCA.