Two new directors elected to Women’s Equity Foundation

Ruth Johnson Smiley and Rebecca Vial have been elected to the Women’s Equity Foundation board of directors. The Foundation is a non-profit supporting organization of the American Association of University Women Maryville Branch. Smiley and Vial fill the vacancies of Jamie Blythe and Sylvia Caldwell, who resigned this summer. Smiley is the immediate past president of AAUW of Tennessee and has held several leadership positions in the AAUW Oak Ridge Branch. In 1981 Smiley became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from the Department of Agricultural Economics at UT Knoxville. She credits Title IX legislation for opening educational opportunities for women like herself who wanted to enter male-dominated fields. Now retired, Ruth’s career included college teaching in economics and government-funded research in energy conservation and labor market projections. (more)

Vial just completed a two-year term as Maryville Branch program vice president and has served as Branch secretary. Vial is a retired National Park Service ranger/historian. Originally from New Orleans, LA, she has moved throughout her career and her husband’s career in the National Park system. She is a also member of AAABC and several professional and academic associations. Currently, she teaches Appalachian Culture courses for Elderhostel and an occasional adjunct course. Established in 2005, the Women’s Equity Foundation directly supports the educational endeavors of the AAUW Maryville Branch,” said Harolyn (Harri) Ropp, president. “The foundation has enjoyed enthusiastic support from the community for our efforts to promote education and equity for women and girls in the state of Tennessee.” Donations are now being accepted for the 8th annual Sister-to-Sister Summit, to be held at Preservation Plaza on November 6. The all day Summit is designed to bring together girls in 7th-12th grade from all three Blount County school districts to explore issues they identify as adversely affecting their lives and learning. Donation forms and instructions for mailing checks are available at or contact Kathleen Sallee, treasurer, at 865-984-7856. For more information, visit or contact Ropp at 865-995-9065.

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