NYU Washington, DC and the National Endowment for the Humanities co-hosted a panel discussion that explored how women have made their way to the front lines, first as journalists covering conflict and now, as combatants participating in conflict zones across the globe.
Special guests included Soledad O'Brien, who moderated the discussion, and Missy Ryan, both journalists who have redefined the role women play in media. Admiral Ann Rondeau of the US Navy and Kristen Rouse, an Army Reservist and active-duty member of the US Army who has served three tours in Afghanistan, shared their experiences with advancement within the ranks of the military, where the push for gender equality continues to garner national and international attention. Documentary filmmaker Michele Midori Fillion and historian Leisa Meyer joined the discussion as well and put historical perspectives on the role of women in society and how that identity has evolved over time.
Soledad OBrien is a former CNN special correspondent and morning show anchor. She recently entered into a unique production and distribution agreement with the network to produce long-form programming specials through her company, Starfish Media Group. Launching in June, the 360 media production company and distributor will be dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, poverty and personal stories.
A critically-acclaimed journalist, OBrien has reported on breaking news from around the globe. In 2011, she won an Emmy for Crisis in Haiti in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story Long Form. O'Brien was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for its BP oil spill and Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. duPont Award for its coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami. The National Association of Black Journalists named OBrien the Journalist of the Year and Edward R. Murrow Awards lauded her with the RTDNA/UNITY award for Latino in America in 2010. OBrien has been integral in hosting and developing the award winning Black in America franchise, one of the CNN’s most successful international franchises. In 2010, she wrote a critically acclaimed memoir ‘The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities’, which chronicles her biggest reporting moments and how her upbringing and background have influenced these experiences.
In addition to Starfish Media Group, Soledad and her husband Brad run the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation, which sends young women to and through college. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives with her husband and four children in Manhattan.
Missy Ryan is a journalist and foreign correspondent who is currently serving as a White House Fellow. Prior to the fellowship, Missy wrote about U.S. policy on Afghanistan/Pakistan and military affairs for Thomson Reuters. She received along with two colleagues a 2012 New York Press Club award for reporting on US negotiations with the Taliban. Missy was posted in Baghdad for 20 months, where she served as correspondent and deputy bureau chief for Reuters. She also served as Reuters’ acting bureau chief for Mexico and Central America. She was posted in Peru and Argentina, and was selected for a year-long fellowship from the Inter-American Press Association. She has also reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon and Libya, including covering the final days of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. She obtained a BA from Georgetown University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She speaks Arabic and Spanish. The White House Fellowship is a non-partisan leadership and public service program that offers professionals first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.
Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau served for 38 years in the United States Navy. Her last active duty assignment was President, National Defense University. Serving in the Navy during dynamic years of transition, Rondeau served in leadership, staff and command assignments in myriad mission areas: fleet operations (anti-submarine warfare, air operations, operations, intelligence, maritime transportation and sealift), strategy and policy, policy planning, operations analysis, training and education, workforce development, business enterprise and shore installations. She was selected as a White House Fellow, Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group Fellow and became permanent member of the Council of Foreign Relations. As president of NDU, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace and served as a Department of Defense liaison to The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. She has been active with the National Defense Transportation Association. Rondeau is a member of the Board of Directors of the German Marshall Fund, the American Public University System and is a member of the Center for Naval Analysis Military Advisory Board and the Atlantic Council. In 2013, The Woman’s Center presented Rondeau with its Leadership Award for her leadership in the United States Navy.
Rondeau holds a Bachelor's Degree in History and Social Science from Eisenhower College, a Master's Degree in Comparative Government from Georgetown University and a Doctorate in Education from Northern Illinois University and has attended several senior executive training and education courses and seminars.
She is currently an executive with IBM as Strategy and Transformation Partner, Global Business Services.
First Lieutenant Kristen L. Rouse has served in the U.S. Army for over eighteen years, from her early years as an enlisted supply specialist and non-commissioned officer in the Army Reserve and later the 10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry, and more recently as a commissioned logistics officer in the Army National Guard. She has led troops and logistical missions during three tours in Afghanistan for a total of 31 months of deployments. She spent nine months deployed as the only female officer attached to an Infantry Battalion, where she served as her unit’s primary liaison to an Afghan National Army unit and was second-in-command of a company providing resupply convoys and maintenance support for infantrymen. She has been awarded four Army Achievement medals, four Army Commendation medals, and the Bronze Star medal.
Leisa Meyer is the Chair of the History Department, Class of 1964 Distinguished Associate Professor of American Studies and History at The College of William & Mary.
Leisa Meyer works in U.S. and American women's history, gender history, twentieth-century cultural history, and the history of sexuality. She received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. She is the author of Creating G.I. Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women's Army Corps during World War II (1996). Her current project is a book on the history of sexuality in the United States since World War II tentatively titled, Knowing Sex. She was an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History & Culture (Scribner's, 2003), serves on the editorial advisory board for the journal Minerva, and is an editor for the journal Feminist Studies. She also serves on the advisory board for the Michael D. Palm Center for at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Michele Midori Fillion is the Executive Producer, Director/Producer and Writer of No Job for a Woman. She conceived the project and is the founder of Hurry Up Sister Productions. A journalist formerly with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she has produced a variety of documentaries for radio and television, with a special commitment to reports that focus on women.
Before World War II, war reporting was considered NO JOB FOR A WOMAN. But when American female reporters fought and won access to cover the war, there was another battle to fight: Women would be banned from the frontlines, prevented from covering Front Page stories, and assigned “woman’s angle” stories. Instead, they turned their second-class assignment into a new kind of war story: one that was more intimate yet more revealing.
“No Job For a Woman”: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII tells this story through the lives and work of wire service reporter Ruth Cowan, magazine reporter Martha Gellhorn, and war photographer Dickey Chapelle.