The Ohio University Women’s Center recently hired its first-ever assistant director.

MaryKathyrine Tran has taken over as the first assistant director for the Women’s Center, and she is already organizing events and making big plans.

“I’m so excited for everything,” Tran said. “I can’t wait to develop programs and work with all of the different faculty and staff members and students here, and I know it’s going to be an amazing experience.”

In past, the Women’s Center had a programming coordinator, but there has never been an assistant director who would take on the same responsibilities as the director. With the new focus on diversity and inclusion, OU President Duane Nellis committed funding for all of the centers to have assistant directors and administrative associates.

Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center, is relieved and excited to have an assistant director who can provide a new perspective on issues and events.

“It was an overwhelming sigh of relief,” Murray said. “I love my job at the Women’s Center, and we’ve done some great work, but of course it can always be better. So to have another perspective that has the amount of content knowledge and hands on experience that MaryKathyrine has is great.”

Tran’s role in the center is not only working closely with Murray to create programs and further the outreach of the center, but she is also working with the Young Women’s Leaders program through Athens Middle School and creating a Women of Color Leadership Initiative program. The Young Women Leaders program works with OU and Athens Middle School students to empower young women and inspire them to become leaders. 

In addition, Tran also came to OU already trained to be a Start Smart Salary Negotiation facilitator, which is a license from the American Association of University Women. She will be in the rotation of trainers who provide salary negotiation help in workshops across campus to people who are nervous, excited or just seeking more information about a first-time salary negotiation. 

“I saw the job was posted, and it would give me the opportunity to work with college students, women of color and in a women’s center, so I applied,” Tran said. “It really was the ideal situation for me.”

Ever since her childhood, Tran has been interested in women’s rights. She grew up in Wisconsin and has always been an advocate for women, so she was inspired to learn more. She got her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she studied women’s and gender studies in her undergraduate education. She focused on leadership development with diverse populations for her master’s degree before being hired at OU. 

“There’s so much happening in women’s and gender studies,” Tran said. “It’s so multifaceted. There’s so much happening within the field: biology, English, art, philosophy and so many other things. It’s a combination of everything for that experience.”

Tran is also working on an upcoming art installation, where she encourages people to come and meet her. The International Women’s Art Installation is set to be displayed March 26 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Baker Center Ballroom. It’s an opportunity not only to meet Tran, but also for people to connect with the art and other Women’s Center staff members. 

Both Murray and Tran agree the Women’s Center is made for everyone, not just women.

“The Women’s Center is open to everybody, but it really creates a space where we can create these tailored and exciting programs,” Tran said. “I think it’s the most important because it helps to create a community on campus.”

The center works to create programs to help with self-efficacy, self-confidence and more, while also allowing for improved intercultural knowledge and skills to work in an ever-diversifying workforce. 

“Our programs are open to everyone,” Murray said. “We have a very gendered lens that appreciates the intersectionality and diversity of identities within the category of women. But most importantly, we always have to think, ‘What are we doing to create inclusive environments that are supportive towards diversity?’”

Tran is very excited about her position but mostly wants people to know she is looking forward to working with other departments and groups of people to find her place in the Bobcat family. 

“I love collaboration. I love working with other people and meeting other people, so everyone should stop by the center or the art installation and say hello,” Tran said.