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WGSS Major Appointed to DC Commission for Women

Crystal Shatzer Espie

Photo of Crystal Shatzer Espie by Vanessa Robertson.

Crystal Shatzer Espie is one of the newest and youngest appointed members to the District of Columbia’s Commission for Women. A rising senior, Espie is a double major in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and political science. She is also in the women, policy and political leadership undergraduate certificate program and is the President of Iota Iota Iota, the women’s and gender studies honor society.

While reading the Feminist Followings, a Women’s Initiative’s newsletter, Espie saw a call for applications to the DC Commission for Women. After a successful application and interview, she received notice that Mayor Vincent C. Gray had appointed her to serve on the commission for the year of 2012-2013. 

The DC Commission for Women was created in 1967 by order of the commissioners under the name of the DC Commission on the Status of Women Act and was approved by the City Council in 1978. A 21 member commission representing the city’s eight wards, the composition of the DC Commission for Women reflects the race, ethnic background, and age of the city’s female population. Its members are appointed by the Mayor with recommendations from commission members and are then confirmed by the DC Council.

Because of the unique role the District government plays as the “Federal City,” the commission serves on the national as well as local level. The primary goal of the DC Commission for Women is to exchange information, studies, research projects, and programs with other city and county commissions for women. In addition, the DC Commission for Women advocates for a wide range of issues, including wage equality. In April 2011, the Office on Women’s Policy and the Commission for Women jointly drafted a mayoral proclamation establishing April 19, 2011, as Equal Pay Day in the District of Columbia to promote equal pay among men and women. The commission has also advocated for reproductive rights and support for survivors of domestic violence.

Espie represents Ward 3, the ward in which American University is located. Espie plans to increase equality for all women in DC by including them in discussions and events that work to improve city policies. Espie also plans to engage the AU community in DC politics and strengthen the bond between students and city residents. 

Espie brings an experienced perspective to the commission. For several years, she worked with her home town city government in Beaverton, Oregon, and its Visioning Committee made up of prominent business and community leaders. She was selected to be a member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board at age 16. In Beaverton, Espie polled citizens to find ways that the city could improve its resident services. She also helped organize city events and represented the youth of Beaverton at Visioning meetings.  

Espie’s experience with local government, in combination with her education in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at American University gave her the knowledge and experience to effectively create social change for women. With this knowledge, Espie will help the Commission for Women run events and forums to ensure all voices are heard on the issues women face today. 

More information about the Commission can be found on their website.