Abby Palko has been settling in this week, ready to lead the team as the new Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center Director. Having spent the past year without a Director after the retirement of Founder and former Director, Sharon Davie, the Women’s Center staff is optimistic about continuing their work under Abby’s leadership.

Abby joins us from Notre Dame, where she served as Associate Director of the Gender Studies Program, a fellow of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, and affiliate faculty member of the Department of Africana Studies. A specialist in Irish and Caribbean literature, she examines questions of gender and sexuality, especially cultural expectations and practices of motherhood. Her forthcoming book, “Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature,” looks at how female characters handle the challenges and cultural expectations of being a good mother.

She earned her Ph.D. in literature from Notre Dame, her M.A. in English from Rutgers University and a B.A. in English and French from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.

While working at Notre Dame, Abby was recognized for her hard work with four awards: the Dockweiler Award for undergraduate advising, the Marian Mullin Hancock Teaching Award for Gender Studies, Gender Relations Center’s Sister Jean Lenz Award for building relationships across campus, and the Africana Studies Academic Freedom Award. She served as a member of the Arts & Letters Advisory Committee on Women and the Committee for Sexual Assault Prevention, plus its assessment subcommittee. Abby has given presentations on diversity and gender dynamics in the classroom and at conferences, and she co-chairs the National Women’s Studies Association’s Feminist Mothering Caucus.

Abby Palko“The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center has an incredibly strong national reputation, and Sharon Davie leaves an impressive legacy to follow. I look forward to continuing the important work she instituted with the center, and leading it into its fourth decade of serving the students and community of UVA.”

We invite our partners across Grounds and in Charlottesville to welcome Abby to the Women’s Center!