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Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Faculty and Staff 

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department is composed of five full-time and tenure-track faculty and one emeritus who are all passionate about their courses and about student success. Listed below are their research interests. If you would like to learn more about requesting a letter of recommendation from WGSS faculty visit Letters of Recommendation for requirements.

Department Mailing Address: 

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
California State University, Fresno 
2225 E. San Ramon, M/S MF19
Fresno, CA 93740
 

Department contact information:

Office: McKee Fisk 243

Phone: 559.278.2858

Fax: 559.278.5230

 

Staff 

Office: McKee Fisk 243
Phone: 559.278.2858
Hours: M-F 8:00-5:00pm; 12-1 closed for lunch

Full-Time (Tenure & Tenure-Track) Faculty

mercado-lopez

Dr. Larissa M. Mercado-López, Professor, Ph.D., University of Texas at San Antonio 

Email: lmercadolopez@csufresno.edu

Phone: 559-278-8599

Office: Mckee Fisk 243A

Area(s) of Expertise:

Dr. Larissa M. Mercado-López is a native Tejana and a professor of Women's Studies. She is a proud alumna of the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she received her BA in Mexican American Studies and MA and PhD in English Literature with a concentration in Latinx Studies. She is the book review editor for Chicana/Latina Studies Journal and co-editor of multiple volumes of critical scholarship, including Voices of Resistance: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Chican@ Children's Literature, (Re)mapping the Latina/o Literary Landscape, and El Mundo Zurdo: Selected Proceedings from the Meeting of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (volumes 3-6). Additionally, she is committed to public scholarship and serves as a senior advisor for the National Center for Institutional Diversity's Public Scholarship Initiative. At Fresno State, Dr. Mercado-López is deeply invested in mentoring both students and her peers, and instituted the Latinxs in Academia Lecture Series to improve the Latinx PhD pipeline. She has also led efforts to improve resources and educational outcomes for students who are also parents. Her recognized leadership led to an invitation to serve as Conference Director for the First Annual CSU Student Success Conference, a systemwide event (September 2020). Outside of academia, Dr. Mercado-López writes about the intersections of feminism and fitness for Girls Gone Strong and contributed to the creation of a women's fitness coaching certificate. Dr. Mercado-López is the proud mother of four children.

Research Areas: 

Chicana feminism; Anzaldúa Studies; Chicanx children's literature; student parents; motherhood studies; public scholarship; women of color in higher education;  feminist fitness studies. 

Classes taught: 

Latina Health; Women of Color in the United States; Introduction to Women's Studies; Chicana Women; Feminist Research Methods

 Dr. Kathryn Forbes

Kathryn Forbes, Professor, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Email: kathrynf@mail.fresnostate.edu

Phone: 559.278.2606

Office: McKee Fisk 217

Area(s) of Expertise:

Gender, Law, and Public Policy; Title IX; Sexual Harassment; Employment Discrimination; Gender Issues in South Asia;  Feminist Ethnography; Feminist Research Methods

Research Interests:

Prior to coming to Fresno State, Forbes conducted research in India on the effects of military occupation and resistance to it on Kashmiri families in Srinagar, and her teaching continues to be informed by this early research. Her current research explores the articulations of gender, race, and class in US public policy and law with particular attention to employment, education, and housing issues in California. More specifically, her research traces how organizations and local governments create legal environments through their interpretations of civil rights law, in the formulation of compliance practices, during dispute resolution processes, and among employees and activist organizations as they mobilize their legal rights to combat discrimination and inequality. Her research is informed by feminist methods, the sociology of law, and the anthropology of bureaucracies. She is deeply committed to producing research that is usable to social justice organizations. Thus, much of her research comes out of political organizing around civil rights issues. Her publications appear in NWSA Journal, Feminist Formations, Feminism and Philosophy, Human Organization, as well as in a variety of popular media sources. She has served as the Faculty Rights Chair for the California Faculty Association. She has been awarded the Provost's Medal of Service, a Fulbright Fellowship, and she served as co-investigator on grants from Housing and Urban Development and as principal investigator on numerous institutional grants. 

Teaching Interests:

Dr. Forbes teaches Gender, Law, and Social Policy, Feminist Research Methods, Women and Work, and Introduction to Women's Studies.

Dr. Katherine Fobear

Katherine Fobear, Associate Professor, Ph.D., University of British Columbia

E-mail: katherinefobear@mail.fresnostate.edu

Phone: 559-278-2806

Office: McKee Fisk 211

Area(s) of Expertise:

Dr. Kat Fobear's research and activism focuses on the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender in oral history, migration, transitional justice, health, and housing. Her most recent work is with LGBTQ refugees and undocumented persons in Canada and transgender homeless in California’s Central Valley. She is currently working on Qistory, a queer public history initiative in partnership with Community Link that works to record and preserve the voices and lives of LGBTQ+ persons in the Central Valley.  She is the author of several journal articles regarding transitional justice and oral history, most notably in International Journal of Human Rights (2019), The Journal of Homosexuality (2012), Journal of Human Rights Practice (2013), Refuge (2014), & Women’s Studies International Forum (2017). 

Teaching Interests: 

Her teaching interests cover a range of topics that intersect critical race, postcolonial feminist, and queer studies. She is currently developing courses around sexuality, gender, and gender identity, such as Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies, LGBTQ+ Oral History, and soon to come courses "Gender and Sexuality in Education" and "LGBTQ+ Representation in Film and Television."

 Loretta Kensinger

Loretta Kensinger, Professor, Ph.D. Purdue University

Email: lkensing@csufresno.edu
Phone: 559.278.8150
Office: McKee Fisk 215
Research Interests:

Dr. Loretta Kensinger's fields of study include United States Government, Feminist Political Theory, Comparative Politics, and United States Women's History. Her passions are feminist social justice and teaching in the undergraduate public university classroom.  Dr. Kensinger's research has focused on the political theory of Emma Goldman as well as inclusions and exclusions in feminist activism, thought and pedagogy.  She is co-editor, with Dr. Penny Weiss, of the edited volume Feminist Interpretations of Emma Goldman, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007. Samples of her other publications include: "Radical Lessons: Thoughts on Emma Goldman, Chaos, Grief and Political Violence Post-9/11/01" (Feminist Teacher 2009), “Plugged in Praxis: Thoughts on Cyber-Technology, Feminism, and Solidarity with the Women of Afghanistan” (Journal of International Women's Studies 2003), and "(In)Quest of Liberal Feminism" (Hypatia  1997).   Dr. Kensinger has also been active in faculty governance, including filling elected roles on the National Women's Studies Association Governing Council, the statewide Academic Senate of the CSU, the California Faculty Association Fresno Chapter Executive Board, the CSU Fresno Academic Senate and its Executive Board, as well as serving two terms as Coordinator of the Women's Studies Program.   

Teaching Interests: 

Loretta has taught a number of courses for the program, including the History of Feminism, Feminist Theory, Women in U.S. Politics, Representations of Women, Introduction to Women's Studies, and Critical Thinking: Gender Issues.   In 2003 she was honored with the School of Social Science "Outstanding Teacher Award".

Leece LeeOliver

Dr. Leece Lee-Oliver (Descendent of Blackfeet and Choctaw), Associate Professor and Director of American Indian Studies, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Email: lleeoliver@mail.fresnostate.edu
Phone: 559-278-5839
Office: SS 106
Area(s) of Expertise:

Interdisciplinary Women of Color and American Indian and Indigenous Feminisms; Colonial Race-Gender Phenomenology; Feminist Histories; Women of Color Feminist Theory and Activism; Transnational Feminisms; Decolonial and Third World Liberation Movements; Coloniality and the State; Feminist Legal Theory; History and Narrativity

Research Interests:

Dr. Lee-Oliver’s research and teaching centralize questions about Indigenous and Third World phenomenology, paying particular attention to social movements that engage Decolonial political strategies, their key figures, scholars, and teachers. Her work examines the community activism and conditions that arise when national policies and societal beliefs pose challenges to peoples’ sovereignty, safety, and security, and the roles that women and gender non-conforming peoples play in community survival. Dr. Lee-Oliver’s book manuscript, Red Feminist Roots: American Indian Women, Coloniality, and the Liturgies of Death and Life, focuses on the phenomenon of American Indian women’s racialization as a trajectory that reflects the long shadow of colonial racism and heteronormativity that leave American Indian women and girls vulnerable to an epidemic rate of violence today. The book pays homage to American Indian women leaders whose legacies of resistance embrace cultural traditions in order to promote and protect American Indian lifeways, historically and today.

Teaching Interests:

Dr. Lee-Oliver teaches Feminist Theory, Women, Violence and Law, American Indian and Indigenous Women Writers, and Introduction to Women’s Studies in addition to courses in American Indian Studies. She has taught courses on Abolition, Suffrage, and Feminism, Women of Color Social Movements, Colonialism and Globalization, and Indigenous and Third World Pedagogies of Wellness.

 

 

Part-Time Faculty 

Chimine Arfuso, Instructor, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies

E-mail: chimine@mail.fresnostate.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Arfuso’s field of study include Women of Color Feminisms (Latina, Black, and Indigenous Women), Feminist Research Methods, Reproductive Justice, and Caribbean Perspectives. 

Teaching Interests:

At Fresno State, Dr. Arfuso teaches Introduction to Women’s Studies, Women of Color in the United States, and Chicana Women

Mary Coomes, Instructor, Ph.D., University of Michigan

E-mail: mcoomes@csufresno.edu
Phone: 559-278-9767
Office: McKee Fisk 229

Research Interests:

Dr. Coomes’ fields of study include Gender and the West, Gender and the Environment, U.S. Environmental History, and U.S. Labor History. In addition, she is interested in grass-roots women’s organizing.

Teaching Interests:

At Fresno State, Dr. Coomes teaches Introduction to Women’s Studies.

 

Dakota M Draconi, Instructor, MSW, Fresno State

Email: ddraconi@csufresno.edu

 Area(s) of Expertise:

Child Abuse and Related Issues, Violence against Women, Homophobic Violence, Welcoming Diversity and Cultural Competency.

Research Interests:

Dakota earned a Bachelor’s in Women’s Studies (2008) and a Master’s in Social Work (2012), both from Fresno State, and received the Student Affairs Graduate Dean’s Medal upon completion of the MSW program. Dakota’s Master’s Project was the creation of an LGBT+ Cultural Competency Training for Foster Parents. After successfully completing the MSW program, Dakota expanded the LGBT+ Cultural Competency Training to also address the specific training needs of Cultural Brokers, Inc. and WestCare California, Inc. Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs staff. Dakota has done extensive research on violence against vulnerable communities, oppression and privilege, intersectionality, and healing for survivors. Dakota gives guest lectures and trainings in the Fresno community, as well as throughout the state, on those topics. Dakota has been trained to lead Welcoming Diversity workshops by the National Coalition Building Institute, International, and serves as a member of the Fresno State Affiliate National Coalition Building Institute Team.

Teaching Interests:

At Fresno State, Dakota has taught WS10 Introduction to Women’s Studies, WS12 Critical Thinking: Gender Issues, WS108 Rape, WS109 Incest, WS115 Women Children and Alcoholism, WS116 Domestic Violence, SWRK123 Social Welfare Policy, SWRK136 Cultural Diversity and Oppression

Marie Lerma, Instructor, M.A. and Ph.D., Ohio State University

Email: marielma@mail.fresnostate.edu

Area(s) of Expertise:

Chicana/Latina feminism; environmentalism, feminist enviromentalism; Latinx art

Research Interests:

Dr. Marie Lerma is interested in the Central Valley of California and how the region pertains to Latinx art, environmentalism and feminist activism. Her dissertation work at Ohio State University included an investigation in youth produced media on the 2011-2017 California drought; Afro-Latinx indigenous musician Lido Pimiento; and Oakland based Central American artist  Breena Nuñez among other topics.

Teaching Interests:

Intro to WGSS; Intro to LGBTQ+ Studies, Chicana Women

Conner Callaway

Connor Calaway, Instructor, MA Fresno State University

Email: ccalaway@mail.fresnostate.edu

Area(s) of Expertise 

Gender, Race, Sex, and Sexuality in Education, Educational Policy, LGBTQ-Inclusions in Education, LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum, Minority History, History of Education, Feminist and LGBTQ-Inclusive Pedagogy

Research Interests:

Connor earned his Bachelor’s degree in History from Fresno State in 2015, and later returned to earn his Master’s in Education with an option in C&I in 2020. Connor also earned graduate certificates in Educational Technology and Research Methods respectively and is a credentialed Social Science teacher with an English Language Arts add-on. Connor’s research and activism have centered around the experiences of LGBTQ peoples in educational settings and inclusion in policy and curriculum. Connor’s work not only focuses on the experiences of gender and sexual minorities in education, but how educators, administrators, policy makers, and community members interpret and rationalize their perspectives and understandings of LGBTQ peoples and their presence in the educational system.

Teaching Interests: 

At Fresno State, Connor teaches Gender and Sexuality in Education

Leila Alamri-Kassim, J.D. San Joaquin College of Law 

Email: lalamri@mail.fresnostate.edu

Research Interests:

Leila graduated from Fresno State in 2012 with degrees in Women’s Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Middle East Studies. She also was a Smittcamp Family Honors College President’s Scholar. Leila went on to law school at San Joaquin College of Law where she earned her Juris Doctor degree. 

Teaching Interests:

At Fresno State, Leila teaches WS 10 Introduction to Women’s Studies. 

 

 
Dion Foster (He/Him/His), Instructor, M.A. in Communication, California State University, Fresno 

Email: dionfoster13@mail.fresnostate.edu  

Area(s) of Expertise: 

Queer Studies, Interpersonal Communication, Feminist Studies, Rhetorical Criticism

Research Interests:

The majority of Dion's research interests focuses on Queer representation in media. Specifically, Dion's research analyzes how different portrayals of Queerness in media shapes society's perspective on queer issues. Dion is also passionate about producing research that highlights underrepresented populations. Especially, marginalized populations that navigate through multiple intersections of oppression based on race, gender, sex, class, and sexual orientation. In addition, Dion is active in various organizations and activities that serve diverse populations. 

Teaching Interests: 

Dion typically teaches Public Speaking for the introductory courses for Communication. However, Dion's teaching interests are in teaching Queer studies, Dark-Side of Interpersonal Communications, and Feminism. 

 

neama

Neama Alamri, PhD, Interdisciplinary Humanities, University of California Merced

Email: nalamri@mail.fresnostate.edu

Area(s) of Expertise:

Critical race and ethnic studies, gender studies, history, postcolonial theory, diaspora studies

Research Interests:

Neama's research is grounded in Arab American Studies, history, and ethnic studies. Her current research based on her dissertation, “Long Live the Arab Worker: A Transnational History of Labor and Empire in the Yemeni Diaspora," examines the historical experiences of Yemeni immigrants and workers throughout the 20th century. Through a historical exploration of archival sources, oral histories and works of literature, “Long Live the Arab Worker” interrogates the ways in which Yemeni workers and migrants experienced and resisted politics of  empire.

Teaching Interests:

At Fresno State, Neama has taught WS 110: Representation of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Previously she has taught courses in Arab American Studies, race, labor, and empire, and Race in the Media.



 

Faculty Emeritus

Dr. Slagter

Janet Trapp Slagter, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Southern Illinois University, Emerita

Email: janetsl@csufresno.edu

Area(s) of Expertise:

History of Western Philosophy, Women and/in the History of Philosophy, Feminist Theory, Contemporary Corporate and Grassroots forms of Globalization, Women's Organizing in the US, Guatemala, Kenya, Women and Aging

Research Interests:

Dr. Slagter has published on the Cuban women's movement, femininity and alienation, and on contemporary activism in central California, and maintains a research interest in the politics of women's health. Her current research focuses on faculty roles in shaping university policies.

Teaching Interests:

Dr. Slagter teaches course in Feminist Theory, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women, a Seminar on Feminist Activism, Women and Aging, Women and the Environment, and Women's Bodies and has taught courses on Race, Class, and Gender Diversity in the US, Critical Thinking and Gender, and Women of Color in the US.  She serves or has served on local boards of the Fresno Free College Foundation/KFCF independent radio station, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Fresno Community Alliance magazine.