'Women in Public Policy' panel discussion

Five women in the public and non-profit sectors will discuss their experiences in politics and policymaking on Friday, April 1, 1-3 p.m. in 620 Thompson Hall.

The panel on “Women in Public Policy” is hosted by the Center for Public Policy and Administration

Janet Rifkin, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and professor of Legal Studies, will moderate the discussion.

Panelists are state Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, Kristin Keel of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Lisa Wyatt Ganson, dean of science, engineering and mathematics at Holyoke Community College.

Rifkin''s main area of expertise is alternative dispute resolution. From 1992-96, she served as the campus''s ombudsperson. Previously, she served as director Mediation Project. She has written extensively on dispute resolution and mediation.

Story, who represents the Third Hampshire District, is currently serving her sixth term in the Legislature. She is the first woman to represent her district, which consists of Amherst and Granby. Prior to her election, Story spent 17 years as associate executive director at the Family Planning Council of Western Massachusetts. She became involved in local issues, serving for three years on the regional school committee, as well as six years as a town meeting member.

Higgins has been the mayor of Northampton for five years. Prior to that, she was a city councilor for six years. She is an officer in the Massachusetts Mayors Association. Higgins has 22 years of child care experience working with special needs students, in a teen parent childcare program and as a day care program director. She spent five years as the Western Massachusetts representative for the United Auto Workers'' day care and human services local.

Keel, who graduated from UMass Amherst in 1988 and completed her MPA in 1992, is vice president for financial planning and analysis at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Wellesley. She was previously the undersecretary for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

Wyatt Ganson has focused her work and research interests primarily on women''s issues and the accessibility of higher education to underrepresented populations, including substance abusers, inmates and truants. In addition to working in higher education, Wyatt Ganson served as the director of vocational/educational services for the New York City Department of Corrections and Samaritan Village, Inc. drug treatment programs.