Visiting Social Activist Program

An Overview of the Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist Program 

Each year, the Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist (VSA) Program brings to CEW a social justice activist whose work affects women and recognizes gender equity issues. One goal of the program is to build the capacity and effectiveness of social activists. This is accomplished by giving the VSA time, space and support to work on a project that would not be possible under the activist’s usual working circumstances.

A four-week stay in Ann Arbor, Michigan, gives the selected activist time for reflection, research, planning and writing related to the area of activism. A $10,000 stipend, housing and travel expenses are paid by the program. Each VSA is required to create a product that will advance the future work of the VSA and potentially benefit other activists. This product may be a report, plan of action, communication strategy, training tool or other item relevant to the activist’s work.

Connections between Visiting Social Activists and people in Ann Arbor, Detroit and/or Grand Rapids have a positive and synergistic effect on all. Nationally prominent activists draw visitors to U-M who might not otherwise come, demonstrating the university's commitment to serve the community.  These visitors, as well as U-M students, faculty and staff are able to learn from and be inspired by activists who are working to improve women’s lives. Interactions with VSAs nurture a “scholar-activist” mindset that can improve the quality of work done in academia as well as in social justice organizations.

The VSA program is made possible through a generous gift from UM alumna Twink Frey and her husband James McKay. Learn more about the process for nominating or applying to become a Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist.

An Example of Engaged Learning with a CEW Visiting Social Activist

VSA Mistinguette Smith Presents Thought-Provoking History 
to Professor Liz Cole's Women's Studies Class
through Her "Black Land:  Women's Voices" Presentation

VSA Mistinguette Smith Presents to Intro to Women's Studies Class    


                                                              Student/Faculty/Staff Discussion of Ms. Smith's "Black Land" Topic