253: Overlapping Networks with Podcasts, Performing Arts, and Professors

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Dr. Sandie Morgan, Dr. Bonni Stackowiak, and Prof. Warren Doody discuss the importance of overlapping networks as a method for pursuing interdisciplinary work. Together, they discuss Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, a significant mentor in all their professionals and personal lives, who encouraged and pushed them all to think and work outside their traditional academic and professional realms.

Bonni Stackowiak

Dr. Bonni Stachowiak is the Dean of Teaching and Learning at Vanguard University of Southern California. She’s also an Associate Professor of Business and Management and teaches a couple times a year in an Educational Leadership doctoral program. She’s been teaching in-person, blended, and online courses throughout her entire career in higher education. Bonni gets the privilege of speaking with exceptional educators on a weekly basis, as the host of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast. Since 2014, her podcast has provided a space to explore the art and science of being more effective at facilitating learning. Teaching in Higher Ed also explores how to improve our productivity, so faculty can have more peace in our lives, and be even more present for our students. Bonni and her husband, Dave, are parents to two curious kids, who regularly shape their perspectives on teaching and learning.

Warren Doody

Warren Doody is the Associate Dean of the Division of Education, Arts and Humanities, and he is also the current Chair of the English department. As Professor of English, his range of classes runs from Shakespeare to American Literature to a variety of creative writing courses – Travel Writing, Playwriting and the Short Story. In his spare time, he is a working playwright, and his original scripts include Life Without Parole, Development, and Enlightenment.com. His most recent effort, Angels in Disguise, received its World Premiere in December 2019. His plays have received productions in New York, Los Angeles, and Canada, and throughout the United States.

Key Points

  • Dr. Sandie Morgan and her guests discuss the value of interdisciplinary studies that bring a variety of disciplines to social justice issues.
  • Each of the speakers reflect on what happens when we are inspired and when we walk into someone else’s realm of specialty.
  • Overlapping networks are a source of studies that point us in new directions of research, teaching, and more.



Dave Stachowiak  0:00

You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 253, Overlapping Networks with Podcasts, Performing Arts, and Professors.


Production Credits  0:11

Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.


Dave Stachowiak  0:32

Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.


Sandra Morgan  0:38

And my name is Sandie Morgan.


Dave Stachowiak  0:41

And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, as we have talked about on the show before, you are really an expert at overlapping networks and helping different folks, different organizations, and all kinds of networks to come together. It’s one of the things that I just think you’re so brilliant at. And one of the places where we have overlapping networks, both you and I, is my wife, Bonni Stackowiak, and she has a podcast called Teaching in Higher Ed, which helps faculty at universities to continue to improve their teaching skills, stay centered on student learning, and help them to really build and enhance their own personal productivity. And actually, we have a connection there as well, because it does have a little bit to do with ending human trafficking, because I know you listen to the show as well.


Sandra Morgan  1:38

I do! And she inspires me, and challenges me, and I hone my teaching skills. I also have learned so much from her about interdisciplinary work, which is really important because I oversee our interdisciplinary Women and Justice Minor. And so, as she and I were talking about one person who impacted us a great deal early on when we came to Vanguard, Professor Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, she started dreaming about a podcast that would honor that interdisciplinary legacy. And eventually, we actually recorded it. And it’s an interview with our professor, friend, and colleague from performing arts in the English department, Professor Warren Doody, and myself, and Dr. Bonni Stachowiak. And so I want to use this interview as an example of how we bring a variety of disciplines to a social justice issue, violence against women, and what that looks like in the media and in the arts. I think, Dave, when you interviewed me on coaching for leaders, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to understand how significant this idea of overlapping networks is in our movement. And as our movement matures in ending human trafficking, we have to be more inclusive. Last podcast with Kathy Givens, we talked about mentoring, and instead of one-on-one mentoring, she wants a network of mentors. And so, I think this is a great example of those overlapping networks. And the Coaching for Leaders episode that we did is number 205 here, and what is it in Coaching for Leaders, Dave?


Dave Stachowiak  3:56

I believe we said 422 earlier. Did I, uh, let me look here just to make sure. Yep, it’s 422. And we’ll have that linked up in the episode notes for this episode as well.


Sandra Morgan  4:07

Oh, that’s great. So what I really want people to do is listen to this story. This is about a very dear friend, and colleague for all three of us in this conversation. And she has unfortunately, passed on but she points us in a direction of research, and teaching, and making a difference through education. So listen in and think about how you might start reaching out to other networks.


Dave Stachowiak  4:44

So many of us have been touched by the life of Elizabeth Leonard, and so we’re bringing this interview to you from the teaching in Higher Ed podcast. Here’s Bonni, Sandie, and Warren.


Bonni Stackowiak  4:56

Today, I am joined by two friends and colleagues, Sandie Morgan, who’s the Director of Vanguard’s Global Center for Women and Justice. She’s also an interdisciplinary thinker and professor in her own right, as you’ll hear about in this episode, and a dear friend. I’m also joined by Warren Doody, who’s an Associate Dean and English professor and Chair, a playwright, and author, and so many more things as you’ll start to recognize as you hear their stories, and also the story of our former colleague, Dr. Elizabeth Leonard. You’ll start to see there’s a lot of interdisciplinary stuff happening in their work. Today is an episode that I’ve been planning for years now. And as will probably become quite obvious, I have shied away from it. It’s a very vulnerable topic for all three of us. A hard story for us to tell. But when that we each want to share with you today, because of the way the person we’re going to share about has impacted us in our lives and not just our lives, countless, countless number of lives. And Sandie, Warren, and I are excited and I would say on my part, a little reluctant, but knowing how important that this episode might be for touching even more lives in the world, we know how important it is to share with you today about Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard.


Sandra Morgan  6:21

This email went out to the entire Vanguard University community. “Dear Vanguard community, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you, that beloved Vanguard professor, Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, passed away on Sunday, May 18, in Ireland, her home since retiring from Vanguard.


Warren Doody  6:46

“Elizabeth taught at Vanguard University as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, serving as an Assistant Professor of Sociology from 1997 to 2002, and then as Associate Professor of Sociology from 2002 to 2007, and finally, as Professor of Sociology from 2007 to 2011. She delivered and expanded the sociology curriculum to include areas of specialization in gender and crime, sociology of women corrections, family violence, and juvenile delinquency, and played an integral role in helping grow the Sociology major to 100 majors.”


Bonni Stackowiak  7:28

“Elizabeth sustained a robust research agenda during her tenure at Vanguard University, producing a book, ‘Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill,’ State University of New York Press, 2002, four book chapters, and nine articles in peer reviewed journals. She was widely recognized as an expert on issues related to battered women in prison and domestic violence, and as such, was invited to present research, guest lecture, provide expert witness testimony, and give various public presentations on 70 different occasions, and in diverse institutional settings and locales and the United States and Europe.”


Sandra Morgan  8:16

“She’s served Vanguard University faithfully by being a tireless leader, and advocate of interdisciplinary collaboration, which included serving as the Co-Director of Vanguard University’s Center for Women’s Studies from 2002 to 2005. She advised, counseled, and mentored countless numbers of students who, upon graduating from Vanguard University, followed her example by pursuing vocations that advance the public good.”


Warren Doody  8:51

“Elizabeth was highly respected, admired, and regarded by the students of Vanguard University, who voted her the faculty member of the year for 1999-2000, and again as faculty member of the year for 2006-2007. Over the years, students have consistently expressed their affection for her and their appreciation of her gut guidance and support.”


Bonni Stackowiak  9:14

“Upon her retirement, Dr. Leonard was granted the status of faculty merita. Dr. Leonard was a devoted colleague and friend, and will be greatly missed.” That email was sent on Monday, May 19, 2014, at 2:04 PM and Dr. Leonard has been missed ever since. Each one of us is going to share a little bit about our early memories of Elizabeth.


Sandra Morgan  9:44

I still remember the day I met Dr. Leonard. I was referred to her by the president of the University at that time. I was just visiting Vanguard on my way home, I lived in Greece at the time, and the president had a little bit of an understanding of what I was going through as the mother of a daughter in a domestic violence situation. And he said, you need to meet Dr. Elizabeth Leonard. So I went over to her office, she wasn’t there. I left a note and went back to prepare to fly out the next morning. I hadn’t been home more than a few minutes when Dr. Leonard called me and spent the next 45 minutes learning everything she could, so that she could walk with me through what she had great expertise in with family violence. And that was April 2003. And she walked with me, she mentored me, she engaged me and brought me into the academic community, inviting me to become part of some of the research that she was doing. There are so many memories, but I guess, Warren, why don’t you tell us some of your memories.


Warren Doody  11:05

I first met Elizabeth Leonard in 2001, early May. I actually remember the date, it was May 8, 2001. And, it was at the end of our last faculty meeting of the year. And Dr. Leonard wanted to know how I found or how I came up with ideas for writing scripts. I was a playwright at that time, it was in large part the reason that I was hired at Vanguard because I could write plays and I could teach playwriting. And, what I would find out later is that Dr. Leonard had written a dissertation that would become her book, ‘Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill,’ and she was spending her summers in Ireland at that time, and had become friends with a well known Irish poet named Brendan Kennelly. And Brendan had read her book, well he read the dissertation and then later he read the book. And he thought that it was a story that really needed to be told globally, nationally, but that because of its academic format, it might not reach a wide enough audience. And so his advice to her was that when she got back to the states, she should find a playwright who could take her academic book and transform it into a stage play, because that would make the words and the play. The book was made up of a lot of monologues of the women that she had written a book about. They were, they were women who had killed their abusive partners. And so, when she got back to the states, she started asking around, I had just started at Vanguard, I’d been there for a couple of years, and somebody had told her that I was a playwright. And what I found out later–which was curious, and really kind of shows the kind of mind she had, as well as the heart she had for the women that she got to know, got to interview, and ultimately wrote her book about–she spent a year watching me, covertly, asking about me, interviewing people about me, because she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t somebody who was going to take her work and just exploit it. She wanted to make sure she could trust me with the material. And evidently, I had enough allies on the campus that at the end of that year, she approached me. And she said that, you know, she asked me if I was interested in a project that she was willing to hand over to me and I said, Yes. We walked down to her office and she told me about her research. I didn’t really know it at the time. And she told me about these women that she’d gotten to know and that she’d done her dissertation on, and the book was forthcoming, and wanted to know if I wanted to take that material and turn it into a play. And I said, Yes. And I told her right on the spot that I was interested. And she said, you know, you should meet the women. And so she set up about a week later, a trip to CIW, which is the prison. And we drove out there. And one of the things that was funny is I remember she was a very aggressive driver. And we’ve just got out to Chino in 35 minutes at 5:30 in the afternoon on Monday. And we attended the support group meeting that she went to every other Monday, and the support group actually had a name, it was Convicted Women Against Abuse. And there were not only the 42 women, but there were a number of other women. Women started to become attracted to the support group. And it was basically a place for women who had experienced any kind of domestic abuse to meet, and to, you know, provide a kind of therapeutic environment where they can talk about their stories, they could lean on each other, they could talk about the progress or lack thereof, you know, of their various appeals. And I was the only man in there. It was me and maybe 50 women, and they welcomed me with open arms. Elizabeth introduced me to all of them, told me, this is just a week later, that I was going to be writing a play about all of them. I was already committed. But she made sure that I was committed. She committed me to the the women who would become characters in a sense, in the play. And I think the thing that was most affecting to me that night was I had a, I had an idea of what a women’s prison might be like. And what I experienced had nothing to do with this sort of, this vision that I had before entering the gates of the prison. It’s more like a college campus. The support group was held in a warehouse, this sort of warehouse like room, and the women were very kind. They were very sensitive. They were very warm. They were melancholy, and they were, most of them were middle aged. Many of them reminded me of my own mother at the time. And I remember driving home, and I did not say a word on the drive back. And I emailed Elizabeth the next day, and I said, I’m all in and I started to do the research for the play.


Bonni Stackowiak  16:20

Sandie, I know that you had a chance to visit the same place and spend some time there, and also, you and Warren are not the only ones. Would you talk a little bit about your experience, and also the experience of students who were invited to engage in this way?


Sandra Morgan  16:34

Well, it didn’t take very long before Elizabeth became my mentor. And I learned so much from how she did her research, how she did her work, how she included so many people, like Warren from Theater department, from English. And I was really impressed that she was working hard to get a family violence class that was cross listed between sociology and psychology. She developed it, it was her baby. And I didn’t even understand at the beginning that she was mentoring me, teaching me to take over that legacy when she retired, and teach that class, which I did for several years. But she wanted it to be cross listed even in the religion and ministries department. She wanted pastors. She believed that everything should be interdisciplinary. That people experience abuse, in the workplace, in the home, in society. And when she was part of developing the Women’s Studies Minor, she made sure it reflected that interdisciplinary connectedness. And that pulled together experts from across the campus like Warren.


Bonni Stackowiak  17:56

I don’t have an exact date, or even an exact year of when I met Elizabeth. She was a part of my Vanguard experience that I can remember from my early beginnings there. I hesitate to tell the story I’m about to tell because I never want to be disparaging of the place where I work. I really like where I work. It’s also frustrating, but I really do like where I work. And it’s also gone through changes. I’ve been there almost 20 years now. So culturally, we have experience changes. When I came in, it was not the greatest experience. I have a very early memory of us dividing up into groups and a large faculty meeting. And there also were members of our board of directors there for some reason, I can’t recall, but they had us break up into the different groups, and we were all going to share and someone was going to dictate what happened. And I happened to be in a group with all men. And of course, they all look to me just assuming I was going to be the note taker because after all, I was a woman. And there were other frustrating things like that. Our institution is from a specific denomination that I didn’t know anything about before joining. And there were a lot of cultural differences that it took me a while to get used to. Our students, by the way, we just revamped our first year course around something called “community cultural wealth.” And one of the things we’re teaching them about are what’s called DACA, and DACA are all of the unspoken, hidden curriculum, all the rules that are out there when they come to college, especially as first generation students, that unless we can help to strip away some of those things, they aren’t ever going to feel welcome. I didn’t always feel welcome at Vanguard. I felt that my own religion, my own religious faith didn’t necessarily fit there. I felt insecure. I felt this big divide between those people who had tenure, those of us who did not, and it was something that I both didn’t understand. It was difficult for me, it was a really difficult transition. And what I can recall about Elizabeth, as well as another former colleague of ours, who unfortunately has also passed away, who was in our library, Mary Wilson, is just the way that they introduced me to books and names. And I just remember her helping me see our culture, the DACA, with a fresh set of eyes, and feel like I belonged there, perhaps even more because there was some more cultural changes that needed to happen for it to be a more inclusive institution, not just for our students, but also for faculty colleagues.


Sandra Morgan  20:40

And she was very intentional about introducing faculty and colleagues and students to people from outside that would bring different perspectives, and enlarge our borders so we could see further. And I think we could probably, Warren, start a support group for those of us who rode with her out to the prison. But we would spend all of the time just remembering how those visits changed our hearts and minds and attitudes towards people who were in prison for reasons that we had thought were very black and white. And you have your memories. They were like the age of your mother. And I remember sitting on the floor talking to a woman, and she was interested in learning more about my goals to become a teacher, she said, I was a librarian. And so then, a little bit later, when we’re going home, Elizabeth told me, she had been sentenced to life without parole. And I know those kinds of stories really impacted you.


Warren Doody  21:56

The title of my play, that was an excellent hand off. The play ended up being ‘Life Without Parole.’ And, I was able to take all the, you know, that box of materials, and the transcripts of the interviews that Elizabeth conducted with the 42 women who made up the support group, and you know, Elizabeth was, when Elizabeth handed handed off all of this material, she told me, I won’t tell you how to write the play. She goes, I’m not going to be a critical voice. I will be a fact checker. And she was the best writing partner ever. She corrected facts. She was my biggest fan. Most of the early productions, she showed up, she supported. We did it with a group of Arizona actors. We did it with students at Vanguard. We went into the prison three times and performed in front of the inmates. All three performances at CIW were memorable. The first one was the most memorable. That was in January 2004. We arrived early during the day, we did a whole tour of the prison. And then Elizabeth introduced us to, we performed in front of convicted Women Against Abuse. And one of the inmates had a box of Kleenex, a couple of boxes of Kleenex, and she handed it to a friend of hers. And they walk up and down the rows of the audience heading out the Kleenex as the reading went on, because people were in tears. And then at the very end of the reading we we took questions. We had a Q&A and one woman stood up right away and said, this is the first time in my life that I haven’t felt ashamed of what I did. You know it really, in so many ways, you know, Elizabeth really changed my life. She changed my life as a creative person, as a playwright, and just really, you don’t need that many people like her in life who are so dimensional. She was no doormat. I know Sandie and Bonni will agree with me. She can fight if she had to. She could stand her grand if she had to. But what was so wonderful about her is she always fought the right fight. And yet at the same time, if you tried to go to her office at Vanguard, you needed to–


Sandra Morgan  24:18

make a reservation, right?


Warren Doody  24:20

Weeks in advance! I mean that, the line of students went out the door. They went down the hallway and out the door. One last, one last comment about her. When she retired, I asked Ed Clark, who was going to take over as, maybe he was already chair at that point. I asked him about her replacement and he just looked at me and he goes, Well, you guys, we’ve got a full professor. We’ve got a domestic violence expert. We’ve got a published author. We’ve got an ordained minister. We’ve got a surrogate mother. And we’ve got the best person on campus. It won’t be hard replacing her at all. She was a sort of one size fits all person, she could do so many different things.


Sandra Morgan  25:05

Well, and I think that really speaks to her emphasis and commitment to interdisciplinary. She didn’t own everything as this is sociology. And she pulled in history and law. And she partnered with the Anaheim Police Department Chief of Police. She went with me to do community outreach in Greece and speak at universities. And she also would be happy to go to the business department and marketing. And she had students who followed her that had never intended to study sociology. And I remember when Olivia Klaus began imagining what the play would look like if it became a film. And so, she was still a student at Vanguard when that dream was planted, and when Elizabeth planted those seeds. So this interdisciplinary piece was huge for her. I’ve got to tell you one part where she told me when she was teaching me to teach the family violence class and why I couldn’t just read sociology books, and I had to read theology, and I had to read psychology, and all these things. She said and you have to read history. And she told me, do you know why we say rule of thumb, and I looked at her, and I thought, okay, usually I’m hanging on every word, but not right now. But then she began to cite the law in the UK that was passed to limit the size of the stick that a husband could use to beat his wife. And that became rule of thumb. She knew so much from such a broad spectrum of disciplines. And she wanted her students to have that kind of competency as well.


Warren Doody  27:09

You know, I’ll just piggyback real quick. But from an interdisciplinary standpoint, we were able to, especially when the students at Vanguard got involved, and we went on the road and produced the play. You know, we had English, we had Theater, we had Sociology. And even beyond that, Elizabeth, you know, she wrote several articles for the American Sociological Association. And I didn’t realize at the time that the kind of play that I wrote had a genre that I’d never heard of: public sociology. So, she was still teaching me things all the way up to the end.


Bonni Stackowiak  27:44

One memory that I know Sandie and I share about Elizabeth, although I suspect Warren you too, is just the way that she would allow any of us to just show up. There  was no need to pretend. There was no need to say the fancy words, or show up in ways that weren’t authentic. We could show up, we could vent, we could be angry, she could hold other people’s anger, she could hold other people’s fears, she could hold other people’s insecurities. I mean, she allowed you to show up just how you were. And I can recall, there came a time in any conversation where she would turn it because just venting, just being angry, just being sad. It loses its possibility. And so she would remind us to persist. She would remind us to keep going, to not give up, that yes, we could spend those moments in sorrow. We could spend the moments in our anger, that those are important feelings. But then she would always have a part in the conversation where she would say, never the less. And that was our reminder that the conversation was about to shift, which for me often came in some uncomfortable ways because it meant things were about to get messy because it was going to be okay, so now what? Didn’t try to tell you not to worry, didn’t try to tell you not to be sad. But there were those moments, never the less. And her voice still echoes in my head. When I feel the rage, when I mean we’re going through a global pandemic, we’re seeing systemic inequities just persist and be magnified. And she would, she would listen to all of that, she’d be joining us, like you said Warren, she’d be joining us. And then she would say, never the less.


Dave Stachowiak  29:43

Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation. I hope that like me, you were inspired by the work of Elizabeth Leonard. And also, just as importantly, it inspires you to take the next step. And we’re inviting you to take the next step as well. If you have not already joined in on Sandie’s guide on the endinghumantrafficking.org website, I invite you to do that. Go online, download a copy of the guide, ‘The Five Things You Must Know: A Quickstart Guide to Ending Human Trafficking.’ We will overview the five critical things that Sandie’s identified that you should know before you join the fight against human trafficking. You can find that again at endinghumantrafficking.org. That’s also the best place for the links mentioned in this conversation, and all of the details to follow up further. In addition, if you’d like to lean in further on really exploring the intricacies and so many of the overlapping networks, and the scholarship, and the practical work that has been done already on ending human trafficking, one of the best places to learn more is to investigate Vanguard University’s Anti-Human Trafficking Certificate program. Details are also at endinghumantrafficking.org, so many ways for you to continue to further your journey on learning so that you can be a resource for so many out there. Just again, endinghumantrafficking.org is where to go. And we will be back in two weeks for our next conversation. Take care, everybody.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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