Making Motherhood Better for All
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Let’s be better together

Helping Moms Be Their Best Selves.

IAMAS’ (International Association of Maternal Action and Scholarship) roots are as an academic organization, but our members are more than just scholars. We are activists from dozens of countries who want to help all moms be their best selves with the supportive, proactive community they need to do that.

We strive to increase meaningful conversation among maternal advocates regardless of their field or experience. Our members are educators, members of the media, politicians, community activists, health practitioners, businesswomen, and much more.

IAMAS wants to use our collective knowledge to help moms – whether it is providing information so they can get reform they need, supporting legislation that helps caregivers, or sharing the collective knowledge of women in differing communities and reimagining what could work in our won.

Most moms take the culture of motherhood as a given, when it doesn’t have to be. It can be better. We can expect (and demand) better support from our partners, communities, places of employment, and governments. Motherhood isn’t new, but the ways we support moms can be. Let’s be better together.

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.

Virginia Burden

Executive Director

Dr. Katie B. Garner


Katie Bodendorfer Garner, PhD focuses on motherhood, childcare, and labor equality. She has been the executive director of IAMAS since 2019, which hosts an annual international conference for maternal researchers, activists, and artists. She is a valued member of CareForce, a small group of thought leaders on carework, along with Ai-Jen Poo and Anne-Marie Slaughter. In addition to teaching English and GWS courses, Katie runs both the Voices, Visions, and Advocacy webinar series as well as consciousness-raising workshops for mothers. Her (in-progress) book, The Illusion of Choice, incorporates interviews with nearly 100 U.S. women while addressing inequalities of work, childcare, and motherhood. Her academic publications appear in Palgrave, MaMSIE, Demeter Press and JMI. Dr. Garner has been consulted for or appeared in releases by Authority magazine, CBS, Center for Public Integrity, Chicago Tribune, Fast Company, NPR, WGN Radio, and numerous podcasts. See more at: www.drkatiebgarner.com

Board Member

Dr. Andrea O’Reilly

Vice President

Andrea O’Reilly, PhD, is Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder and director of MIRCI (1997-2019), now IAMAS; as well as founder and editor of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative (1999-) and Demeter Press (2006-), the first feminist press on mothering, reproduction, sexuality and family. Dr. O’Reilly is the editor and author of 20 books including Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism, and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering. She is the two two-time recipient of teaching excellence awards. In 2015 was the first inductee into the Museum of Motherhood Hall of Fame. She and her partner are the parents of three fabulous and feminist adult children.

Board Member

Dr. Gertrude Lyons


Dr. Gertrude Lyons, Lead Faculty member, Senior Life Coach and Director of Family Programs for The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is rewriting The Mother Code. 

Dr. Lyons is a leading edge trainer and educator in human emergence, lifestyle, parenting, leadership development, career, relationship satisfaction and success, and women’s development, and through her work inspires people to take control of their own personal transformations. She has made it her mission to challenge traditional notions of mothering by facilitating raw, open conversations around mothering, womanhood, and parenthood that no one else is having. She has spent the last 19 years empowering individuals, couples, parents and families to bring out their best selves through helping them realize meaningful, successful lives, with the aim of bringing new perspectives on personal transformation to as many people as possible. 

Today, Dr. Lyons is on a mission to help women reclaim their lives through mothering and create a safe space where women can express their dreams, fears, and truths around motherhood. We are all mothers, and together we can support and empower one another to be the best versions of ourselves.

Why are you on the IAMAS Board? I am on the IAMAS board because I resonate with the mission to support moms to be their best selves and I want to lend my energy to this effort. The 7 Core Beliefs of IAMAS are a pathway to build a mothering community for all women to take part part in moving our world in a needed direction.

Areas of Interest: Women’s studies; feminine leadership; curriculum design; facilitating groups; networking and connecting. Also, sacred travel, interior design

Board Member

Susan B. Clark


A native of Chicago, Susan has been at the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation since 2005, most recently as Director, Grants and Communications. Her interests are using technology, data, communications, and a racial equity lens to advance philanthropy and the non-profit sector. She is currently a member of the Center for Effective Philanthropy was a 2017-18 Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellow, through Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. An active member and volunteer of PEAK Grantmaking, she served as co-chair of its Midwest Chapter from 2009 to 2012. Outside the office, she is an avid photographer who has shown in venues across the country. She enjoys spending time outdoors, especially via kayak, and exploring the world with her school-age son.

Why are you on the IAMAS Board? I want to help close the access gap between maternal research and the moms who most need the information to make decisions about their work and family lives.

Areas of Interest:  technology, communications, data, racial equity.

Board Member

Haile Eshe Cole

Haile Eshe Cole’s background includes interdisciplinary research and teaching experience in Cultural/Medical Anthropology, Black/African Diaspora Studies, and Black feminist theories. Her scholarly interests include Black feminisms, community-engaged/social justice research methodology, Black motherhood, reproduction, and health. Over the years, she has conducted research on women’s mass incarceration and Black women’s maternal and infant health disparities in Texas. Her most recent research project considered how rates of maternal and infant mortality are impacted by on-going processes of racism and structural inequality. Eshe has served on the faculty at Texas State University, Amherst College, and Northwestern University and will start in the Fall of 2020 as an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut. In addition to her academic work, Eshe has worked for both the state and local government assisting with research and program development, served as a consultant to a number of non-profits, and has extensive experience with community engagement, training, and group facilitation. She devoted many years to community and social justice activism centered on the needs of poor and working-class mothers and women of color in Austin, TX and is passionate about reproductive justice work. 

Areas of Interest: Black Feminism(s), Black Motherhood, Reproductive Health and Justice, Activist Research Methods, and Visual Media

Board Member

McKenzie Wood

McKenzie Wood is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah. A sociologist at heart, she has taught an array of classes, including Criminology, Victimology, Punishment and Society and Crime and the Media. Her pedagogy involves teaching theoretical tenets and then assisting students as they make theory connections to their own life experiences. McKenzie’s areas of research interest revolve around crimes against women, crime prevention strategies, and the help-seeking behaviors of survivors. Most recently she has studied active shooter and armed intruder policies in healthcare and hospital settings. She has been published in various outlets, including the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Race and Justice, and the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. McKenzie is the mother of three amazing children, and you can often find her trying new flavors of herbal tea or hiking the beautiful Utah mountains. 

Board Member

Amanda M. Hinson-Enslin, PhD, MPH, CHES®

Amanda M. Hinson-Enslin, PhD, MPH, CHES® is an Assistant Professor at the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Hinson-Enslin teaches in the Master of Public Health Program where she focuses on health promotion and education. Her research interests include health promotion and education, public health, health disparities, health equity, project management, mental health, and advocating for individuals with various abilities.  

Amanda joined the IAMAS Board to advocate and participate in addressing disparities among mother researchers and aid moms in identifying solutions to enhance their lives at work and with their family.  

Board Member

Jessica A. Leveto, Ph.D.

Jessica A. Leveto, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Kent State University at Ashtabula. Dr. Leveto teaches a wide range of courses in sociology, including Childhood in Society, Adolescence in Society, Aging in Society, Sociology of Families, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Sexualities, Minorities in the United States, Sociological Theories, Data Analysis, Researching Society, and Career Pathways in Sociology, Criminology & Justice Studies. Dr. Leveto’s research examines the impact of COVID19 on mothers in academia. Dr. Leveto is a sociological social psychologist with expertise in identity, mental health, neurodiversity, and emotion. She has been published in a variety of outlets including Sociology Compass, Current Psychology, Advances in Group Processes: Biosociology and Neurosciology, and New Directions in Identity Theory and Research (Oxford University Press). Dr. Leveto is the founder and administrator of Ph.D. Mamas, an online support community of over 10k. Ph.D. Mamas provide support to those who identify as mothers navigating academia. She is the mother of three, Liam (22), Ryleigh (7), and Lillian (6).

She joined the IAMAS board to work with a dynamic and influential group of scholar-activists working diligently to create a more equitable environment for mothers worldwide.

Steering Committee

Summer R. Cunningham, Ph.D.

Summer R. Cunningham, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Affiliate Faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies at SUNY Oneonta. She is interested in social justice and transformation, relationality, and connection. Her primary focus of research is in the area of mothering and motherhood, with a particular focus on the topics of single motherhood, mothers in academia, and the politics of motherhood. Her work often employs creative, performative, and experimental methods with the aim of garnering interest in social issues for which people are either disinterested or do not see themselves as stakeholders.

Heather Dillaway

Heather Dillaway is a Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her research focuses on women’s reproductive health, motherhood, aging, and disability experiences, with attention to race, class and gender disparities and women’s everyday lived experiences.

Florence Pasche Guignard

Florence Pasche Guignard holds a PhD in religious studies from the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland). She is an assistant professor in religious studies at the Université Laval in Québec City where she teaches courses on women, gender and religion and on South Asian religions (in French).

Her research explores issues at the intersection of religion and ritual, digital and material cultures, embodiment, and gender. Her most recent publications focus on motherhood, parenting and religion in a variety of past and present cultural contexts. She brings her interdisciplinary scholarship in conversation with anthropology, ritual studies, media studies, as well as with gender and women’s studies and, particularly, motherhood studies. See her website: fpg.bio.

Laura Lazzari

Laura is a scholar in the field of Motherhood Studies currently affiliated with the Catholic University of America and Franklin University Switzerland. She hold a PhD in Italian Literature from the University of Lausanne, a Master of Studies in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford and an MA in Italian, French and History of Art from Lausanne University.

I have taught and conducted research in several universities in Switzerland, the UK and the USA. I spent the last six years in Washington DC before going back to Switzerland where I currently work and live. In my research I investigate the representations of pregnancy, birth and postpartum in contemporary culture and society. In addition to this, I am a childbirth and postpartum educator. I strongly believe in empowering women and couples through gentle births and mothering. I am also interested in fighting obstetric violence and  in making women aware of their rights, choice and options during birth.

Mairi McDermott

Mairi McDermott had both of her children while pursuing her doctoral degree. In many ways, she only knows these two social worlds as a simultaneity. Yet, it has only been since coming into the literature in motherhood studies, a few years into a tenure-track position that she began to boldly claim the identity of mother-scholar.

As a mother-scholar, Mairi is an assistant professor and chair of Curriculum and Learning at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Her research and teaching interests are with what kinds of teaching and learning can push us beyond the existing habits and assumptions of colonial ways of knowing, being, and relating in schools and society. In particular, her research presently considers mothers of school-aged children who are navigating the tenure track. With considerations around knowledge production and the broader politics of representations, she is interested in making visible the ways in which those who are mothers often become a forgotten demographic within the university world of ideal academic. She has published most recently in an edited volume on Women Negotiating Life in the Academy (2020, Sense) and a special issue in JMI on Academic Mothers and COVID-19 (2020/2021).

Abby Palko

Abby is the Director of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at the University of Virginia. Through the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality, she teaches her course, The Politics of Motherhood. She holds a Ph.D. in Literature (with a focus on Irish and Caribbean novels) with a graduate minor in Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her self-care practices include running (really, jogging at an excruciatingly slow pace), reading voraciously, and needlepointing. The joy of her life is raising a strong feminist daughter with her partner.

Areas of Interest: Her teaching, research, and writing focuses on representations of mothering practices. She is particularly interested in the ways that rhetoric about motherhood shapes and influences women’s mothering practices. In her book, Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature (2016, Palgrave Macmillan), she analyzes the ways that Irish and Caribbean women writers negotiate new understandings of the Good Mother; she has also published articles in a number of journals and Demeter Press publications. The most satisfying research projects she has completed have been the three books she co-edited with dear friends and colleagues: Mothers, Mothering and Globalization with Dorsía Silva Smith and Laila Malik (2017, Demeter Press); Cultural Representations of Breastfeeding with Ann Marie Short and Dionne Irving (2018, Demeter Press); and Feminist Responses to the Neoliberalization of the University: From Surviving to Thriving with Sonalini Sapra and Jamie Wagman (2020, Lexington Books). She is co-editing Monstrous Mother: Troubling Tropes with her mentor, Andrea O’Reilly (forthcoming, Demeter Press).

Cindy Phu, Ed.D

Cindy Phu, Ed.D (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor in Speech Communication in the department of Performing/Communication Arts at Pasadena City College (PCC).  For many years, she served as the PCC Director of Forensic (Speech and Debate), PCC Coordinator of the Speech Tutoring/Learning Center, and was the executive board of the Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association (PSCFA).  In the past 14 years, she has taught at several community colleges, state universities, and private universities.  Those courses were gender communication, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, argumentation and debate, propaganda and persuasion, public speaking, and communication studies theory.  On the collegiate level, she has produced numerous local, regional, state, and national speech and debate champions.  She has led professional development workshops for: workplace communication for professional organizations, best-practices for online education training for High School instructors, and public speaking workshops for the local women’s leadership organization.  Her lived-experience of mothering an infant as a doctoral student sparked her dissertation research in examining the experiences of mothering-students of color at the community college.   

Areas of interest: Mothering students of color in community college, critical race theory, intersectionality, mothering double-consciousness, intergenerational mothering, and healing centered engagement. 

Nicole Willey

Professor of English at Kent State University Tuscarawas, where she also serves as the campus Mentoring Program Coordinator. In the Kent State University system, she is a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning where she focuses on issues surrounding Mid-Career Mentoring for Regional Faculty. Now in her 17th year at Kent State, she has moved her research from a more traditional literary focus on Nineteenth Century  American novels, specifically sentimental novels and slave narratives, to intersectional research on mothering, memoir, and most recently fathering, parenting policies in academe, and mentoring practices. Her books include Feminist Fathering/Fathering Feminists, Creating a New Ideal of Masculinity for American Men:The Achievement of Sentimental Women Writers in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, and a co-edited collection Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives.  Nicole lives in New Philadelphia, Ohio with her partner of 20+ years, a feminist father and queer studies medievalist, their two teenage sons, and one hilarious dog.

Areas of interest: mothering sons/mothering against toxic masculinity and gender binaries, professionalization of mothers in academia, and mentoring.