Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow - Fania Davis


 Mount Mary University welcomed Fania E. Davis to campus October 7-10, 2019, to explore restorative justice and how it relates to Mount Mary University’s founding principle of social justice. Davis is a Restorative Justice Scholar and was on campus as part of the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Program (WWVF).  As a social activist and civil rights attorney, Davis co-founded the Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth and has received many humanitarian awards. Through a variety of programs on campus, Davis worked to create better understanding and new connections between the academic and nonacademic worlds by sharing her social and restorative justice journey.  These programs included two guest lectures focusing on Davis' experiences and how they relate to Mount Mary's signature "Leadership for Social Justice" course, a lunch with our Caroline Scholars, a conversation about restorative justice and trauma with our Trauma Informed Care graduate students, and a workshop for faculty and staff introducing restorative justice practices.

Community Keynote: Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline Through Restorative Justice

The Women's Leadership Institute at Mount Mary University was pleased to have over 275 community members, students, faculty, staff, and alumnae join us for Fania Davis' keynote presentation with a moderated Q&A session.  At this October 8th presentation, participants heard Davis' story and listened to the concepts and development of restorative justice approaches.  Discussion included ways to actively engage families, communities, and systems to repair harm and prevent re-offending.

Plan to attend the 2020 Mount Mary Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow community event next fall.  More information to come!

About the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Program

For more than 45 years, the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows (WWVF) program offered through the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has brought prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders and other nonacademic professionals to campuses across the United States for substantive dialogue with students, faculty members and the local community. The Women’s Leadership Institute at Mount Mary University is excited to bring this prestigious program to campus for the first time in fall 2019, made possible in part through endowments established by Virginia Cornyn ’62 and Nancy Cheski ’65.

The program exposes students to outstanding individuals in professional fields to discuss and contemplate the sometimes irregular paths Fellows took before achieving eminence in their chosen vocations. Through a weeklong residential program of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures, and informal discussions, the Fellows create better understanding and new connections between the academic and nonacademic worlds.

Instead of the one-day visit typical of the college lecture circuit, the Visiting Fellows program provides time for trust to develop, complex issues to be explored, and ongoing relations to be established. “Through these weeklong visits, students and faculty members can explore how the topics and theories discussed in the classroom relate to the broader society,” said Anne Kahl, Executive Director - Leadership Institute & Corporate Relations.

“For those students who want to build a better world, Fellows demonstrate that despite challenges there are opportunities to create change through professional activities and as informed citizens,” she said.  “Learning from the experiences of proven leaders and trailblazers and allowing those conversations and discussions to inspire the transformative leader within each of us is where most of the Women’s Leadership Institute’s programming stems from,” said Kahl.

About the Fellow

Fania Davis is a social activist, restorative justice scholar and civil rights attorney. She co-founded Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY). RJOY works to interrupt cycles of youth violence and incarceration, disparately impacting youth of color, fueled by punitive school discipline and juvenile justice policies of youth violence and incarceration.  RJOY promotes institutional shifts toward restorative approaches that actively engage families, communities and systems to repair harm and prevent re-offending.

Davis’ close childhood connection to victims of the 1963 Sunday School bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, set her career path early in life. She has received the Ubunti Service to Humanity award, the Maloney award, and World Trust’s Healing Justice award. The Los Angeles Times named Davis a new civil rights leader of the 21st century.