Apply for our internship program in 2017-18!

Apply NowWith 8 programs, there are lots of ways for you to get involved with the Women’s Center next year. Our internship program gives you the chance to combine classroom study with the practical experience of working with staff members on one of our many teams.

Former Iris intern, Carly Gorelick, gives you 5 reasons you should intern with the Women’s Center:

By |January 27th, 2017|Blog, Interns|0 Comments|

Join us in Celebrating MLK

Many of us are aware of the impact of traumatic events on individuals. Post-traumatic syndrome became a familiar term in response to the Vietnam War and what men and women experienced in that war. There is also growing research on how an individual’s brain reacts to trauma with encouraging news about how to help individuals recover. However, we do not know as much about how trauma impacts a community. The Charlottesville community has had several traumatic events in the past few years that have affected many people. In addition, when there are parts of a community where people feel marginalized, the impact of trauma is different. There are barriers for people in the marginalized community that can prevent recovery as well as natural healing relationships that can be used as resources.

The Maxine Platzer Women’s Center at UVA is sponsoring a talk as part of the 2017 Community Martin Luther King Celebration entitled How We Begin To Heal: Addressing Lifelong Impacts of Trauma in Communities of Color. We’d like to thank UVA’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights for joining us to co-sponsor this event.

The theme of the MLK Celebration this year is “Silence as Betrayal.” In 1967, speaking out against the war in Vietnam, Dr. King stated, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” This theme is very relevant to trauma. The impact of trauma becomes more severe when everyone remains silent about it. By acknowledging trauma and giving voice to our reactions, the healing process can begin.

Please join us at this free event on Wednesday January 25th to hear psychologist Russell T. Jones, who is a professor from Virginia Tech. Drawing on his extensive work with traumatic events including Hurricane Katrina, and the Virginia Tech shootings, Dr. Jones will discuss the impact of generational and systemic trauma on people in communities of color. We will learn about the nature of developmental trauma, how it shapes individual and community coping behaviors, and what are some suggested interventions to foster healing and growth.

The talk will be from 3:00 – 4:00 followed by a group discussion and then a reception from 4:30- 5:30 at the Harrison/Small Library at UVA. We hope that this event will help participants better understand what our community has experienced as well as develop some ideas of how we can become a part of the healing process.

By |January 19th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Attorney Spotlight: John Ralston

UVA students have the opportunity to learn about the legal process by working closely with local attorneys in our Legal Clinic. The commitment from our local attorneys and student interns has allowed our clinic to grow and meet a greater need in the community. Since 2013, we have added a summer legal clinic and increased the frequency of our clinics from once a month, to twice a month, allowing us to meet the needs of more clients all year long. While you can get to know our hard-working interns through our student spotlight series, we want to shine light on the dedicated attorneys who donate their time to our legal clinic.

Get to know John Ralston of E. Randall Ralston, P.C.!

A 2015 graduate from the University of Richmond School of Law, John Ralston is already putting his degree to good use at his family’s practice, E. Randall Ralston, P.C., in Charlottesville and right here at the UVA Women’s Center Free Legal Clinic. The clinic is held twice a month on Tuesday evenings at the Corner Building on the UVA Corner, and serves about 6 clients per clinic or about 12 clients per month. Clients reach out to us either by phone (434-982-2361) or email ( to sign up for thirty minute pro-bono consultations with an attorney. Attorneys from around the community graciously volunteer their time to serve on one of our clinics. Mr. Ralston has graciously gone above and beyond serving on two of our clinics this fall, taking time out of his busy schedule to give back to the community at our clinics.

 While Mr. Ralston was at U of R his concentration was in corporate law and contracts since he greatly enjoys the drafting process and having to tailor a document to a client’s objectives. Outside of his studies in law school, he volunteered for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society’s Bankruptcy clinic and the Carrico Center Housing program. Today he focuses his work on real estate, corporate and incorporation, estate planning, land use and zoning, and landlord or tenant issues. Giving back is obviously an integral part of Mr. Ralston’s work, or as he likes to put it, “I often see clients in desperate circumstances, and I find it rewarding to help them develop a plan and counsel them through bad times.” We’re grateful for all the help he has provided us. Charlottesville is lucky to have him!


Tips for Making & Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

“Eat healthier.”
“Get more organized.”
“Exercise more.”

These may sound familiar as resolutions we have all made many times. And then…the change doesn’t last. Changing habits is hard work but it can be done.

Here are some TIPS that can help you make your resolution and stick with it!

1. Get specific
Make the change into a specific, reasonable goal. Eating healthier is too big a goal and too vague. Pick one thing you would like to change about your eating and focus on that for one month. Then once that change is successful, choose the next goal. For example, I will eat a healthy breakfast three times a week. This is a reasonable and manageable goal.

2. Don’t do it alone
Get support for your change. Change will last longer if important people in your life or community are a part of the process. For example, if your goal is to exercise, you can find someone to walk with you or take a class with you. Some people even use their dogs as motivators to get walking!

2016’s GOOD News for the UVA Community

This has been a year that none of us will soon forget. Many here and around the world experienced 2016 as a time in which uncertainty about the future escalated to levels unprecedented in our recent memories or even our lifetimes. Worst-of lists abound in the end-of-year airwaves. But at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we are fortunate to have a singular vantage point from which we’ve made some observations of a different sort.

Here at the Women’s Center, we are responsible both for supporting the vulnerable and for giving members of the UVA community opportunities to use their considerable skills and expertise to inspire and advocate for others (n.b., many students are counted in both of those groups at different moments in their college years). With this responsibility, we find, comes the privilege of witnessing the incomparable strength of spirit that UVA students, faculty, staff, and alumni possess. Our view of the powerful force for progress that is alive and well within this community is something we take as a gift and it’s one we want to share with you.

Students Seize their UVA Days


We have long found the student leadership for which UVA is so well known to be a rich source of partnerships and outreach channels for our work. We fulfill frequent requests to join student groups in their efforts to educate their peers about resources and opportunities like those we provide. This year in particular, young people taking the lead in student government and the student-run media at UVA have developed a strong focus on wellness that complements other areas in which they have traditionally worked. The Cavalier Daily, for example, covered our events, came to us for information, and listed us as a resource in well over a dozen articles in 2016. Talking with student reporters and the leaders of student organizations frequently helps us ensure that we have the most current understanding of what students need and want to know. And it’s great to see these emerging leaders encouraging other students to be informed and take charge of their own well-being so they can all make the most of their invaluable time on Grounds!


Fourth-year Sociology major, Kimia Nikseresht, will continue developing the leadership skills she’s shown as Iris Magazine Assistant Editor next semester when she adds President Sullivan’s office to the list of places she’s served at UVA. Read more >


Our Body Positive Team was recognized in 2016 for their work to prevent disordered eating and exercise among their peers. Through Perfect Illusions and The Body Project they help ensure that students across Grounds can fully engage as members of the UVA community.

Staff, Alumni & Community Partners Urge Students to New Levels of Engagement


Our Program Director for Global Outreach and Engaged Scholarship, Jaronda Miller-Bryant, was recognized this year for connecting students with real-world advocacy work in their local and global communities. Jaronda’s course provides a firm foundation for all of the students who intern here. Much of the program-specific experience that the interns gain during their year working with individual Women’s Center staff mentors is then shared with the whole internship cohort through Jaronda’s course as well. Read more >


The interns and staff mentor on our Legal Clinic team celebrated Veterans Day by offering a pro-bono legal clinic specifically for veterans in collaboration with Goodman Allen Donnelly. Read more >


Through our 2nd annual Beverly Cobble Rodriguez Lectureship, Gretchen Steidle (A&S 1996) connected a crowd of students with the women she guides to be agents of conscious social change in their own communities around the world. A select group of our interns who have been providing behind-the-scenes support to her organization, Global Grassroots, were proud to bring Gretchen’s inspiring example to their peers from across Grounds. Read more >

The 360º Benefits of Mentoring


Our announcement of Pam Norris as the recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award was greeted with cheers, especially from the many students and colleagues Pam has mentored throughout her career. From advising of undergraduates to guiding researchers in her lab Pam’s generosity has resulted in far-reaching contributions to an array of engineering fields for over 20 years. Stories of how those Pam has mentored are now passing that crucial support on to others were among the most moving moments of the award ceremony. Read more >


In 2016 Abby Palko joined us from Notre Dame where her appreciation for the role of men in bringing about gender equity deepened during the time she served as Associate Director of Gender Studies there. Abby’s latest post on our blog focuses on our Men’s Leadership Project as an example of this. Read more >

Our Thanks to You All!

donate button imageMany thanks to all of the student leaders as well as faculty and staff from across Grounds whose collaboration has been essential to our work this year. The above posts by the Cavalier Daily, WUVA, UVA Today and NBC29 and the partnerships represented in them have helped us reach the many audiences we serve. Special thanks also go to all of you who have followed the initiatives above and our numerous other efforts in 2016. We appreciate your time and are so grateful for the donations you make to extend our work farther each year. If you’d like to include the Women’s Center in your end of year giving, please do so here. Thank you!

By |December 29th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

Women’s Center to undergo renovations during 2017

Our historical home at 1400 University Avenue will be under renovation for all of 2017. During that time, you can find us in Emmet House on McCormick Road! You can get to Emmet House using the Inner Loop, Outer Loop, North Line, and the Free Trolley.

The Corner Building in which we’re located has been home to a wide variety of offices over its many years at UVA. It housed entities such as the University Book Store and University Tea Room in earlier days. Many UVA alumni even recall it’s time as the site of the University’s Student Health Services. The current configuration of the space occupied by the Women’s Center still reflects this era of the building’s history in several ways with many small rooms along long, narrow hallways. The arrangement of doors inside offices that lead directly to other offices limits the uses to which some spaces can be put by an occupant like us, where the privacy of counseling offices is of such importance to the quality and quantity of services provided.

The University will be implementing long-awaited system upgrades throughout the building, making it an opportune time for additional work to be done to allow our staff to more fully utilize the space in providing our special combination of support services and engaged scholarship programs, for which we are  known.

By |December 16th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

Your Support Helps us Flourish Fully

If you’d like to include the Women’s Center in your end of year giving, please do so here. If your contribution is already on its way, thank you!

UVA has long been a magnet for civic-minded young people seeking opportunities to build their leadership skills. As a provider of a diverse array of engaged scholarship opportunities for UVA students, the Women’s Center is a bustling hub of hands-on learning and leadership in many of the areas that today’s budding social justice advocates see as most ripe for change in their world. Body image and gender-based violence top many young people’s lists of pressing social issues, as does the need for educational and economic opportunities for women worldwide. Our students also commit their time to filling the crucial need for strong role models for girls and boys. And they learn to leverage the opportunity that the proliferation of digital communication provides for far-reaching platforms to promote positive social change.

Our counselors are known for their extensive expertise supporting college students with concerns ranging from the stresses of young adulthood to traumatic events in their lives or within their families or communities. Whether students seek counseling to address anxiety or depression or to recover from an eating disorder or sexual assault, our counselors help clients gain a powerful sense of autonomy by identifying the change that is important to them and working to make that change happen.
By |December 16th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

What role do men play in a Women’s Center?

Written by Director, Abby Palko

The short answer is: an important one! But the long answer is more interesting.

We have two primary modes of engaging with students on Grounds: through the direct services we offer, like counseling, and in our engaged scholarship, which includes 8 different academic internships. Despite the name on the building, men are involved in both of these areas. The counseling expertise in the Women’s Center can be utilized by men on Grounds, whether they are seeking counseling directly with us or a referral to a community-based resource that might better meet their needs. We encourage any young man on Grounds who needs counseling to either come here or to contact us for a referral outside the Women’s Center. We also have men on our internship teams, working alongside the women who come to the Women’s Center to advocate for gender justice. And one of our programs, the Men’s Leadership Project, is directly focused on engaging men in explorations of healthy masculinity. MLP pairs UVA men with boys from an area middle school in a Big Brother-Little Brother relationship. This provides the Littles with guided opportunities to explore the meanings of masculinity in our culture and the Bigs with moments assume a leadership role through the mentoring relationship.

MLP is, for me, a perfect illustration of the philosophical position men occupy in a women’s center. As many others have very persuasively argued, the inequities that women face will only be corrected with the involvement of women and men. And even when these inequities seem to solely target women, they often have a negative impact on men as well. We react to men who choose to take on primary care-giving responsibilities differently than we respond to women who make that same choice. In its totality, the wage gap still disadvantages women, but there are demographic segments where men disproportionately suffer from lack of economic opportunities.

By |December 6th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

Student Spotlight: Courtney Morgan

Get to know Women, Girls, and Global Justice intern, Courtney Morgan!

Year: 4th
Major: Leadership & Public Policy
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA

1. Why are you passionate about your program at the Women’s Center?
I love the Women, Girls, & Global Justice program because I get to work with people who are doing awesome things both right here in Charlottesville and in other countries! Though time differences make Skype meeting logistics interesting, I love the fact the world is connected enough for me to work on projects here at UVA that connect me to the incredible work that people are doing around the world to advance the rights and opportunities of women and girls.

2. What made you choose UVA over other schools you applied to?
I chose UVA because I felt such a sense of opportunity here. I was never someone who had my heart set on a specific school, but I’ve discovered that there is truly something special about this place.

3. What has surprised you about UVA?
The variety! I think I had a very one-dimensional image of UVA culture before I came to grounds, but over my three and a half years here I’ve consistently met incredible people who shatter my assumptions.

By |November 30th, 2016|Blog, Interns|0 Comments|
  • Leah Smith
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    Two-time Olympic Medalist, Leah Smith, to be honored at National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Two-time Olympic Medalist, Leah Smith, to be honored at National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Nov. 17, 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Two-time Olympic Medalist and current Virginia swimmer Leah Smith will be honored on National Girls and Women in Sports Day when the Cavalier women’s basketball team hosts Duke on Feb. 5, 2017 at 1 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day brings attention to the achievements of female athletes and to issues facing girls and women in sport. The event is co-sponsored by the University of Virginia Athletics Department and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at UVA.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won Olympic gold with the United States 4×200-meter freestyle relay and bronze in the 400m freestyle. She became the first female Cavalier swimmer to earn two Olympic medals and the second overall, joining Ed Moses in 2000 (gold with 4x100m medley relay, silver in 100m breaststroke).

Smith swam the second leg of the American relay, which also included Allison Schmitt leading off, Maya DiRado in the third leg and anchor Katie Ledecky. The U.S. won in a time of 7:43.03, followed by Australia (7:44.87) and Canada (7:45.39).

Smith won bronze in the 400m free in 4:01.92, behind American Katie Ledecky, who broke the world record in 3:56.46, and Jazz Carlin (4:01.23) of Great Britain. 

By |November 21st, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|