Green Bay, WI: Wise Women Gathering Place announces the retirement of Alice Skenandore, it’s beloved founder and executive director of nearly 24 years. Her retirement began September 1, 2022.
Alice, a Tribal member from the Lac Courte Oreilles band of Ojibwe, has made a difference for so many individuals seeking assistance, information, and in the early years, a midwife. She learned to be a midwife while living in Laughlin, Nevada and in 1992, Alice and her husband Roy moved their family to the Oneida community. She promptly opened her home and heart to anyone in the community who wished to learn midwifery. For 8 years, a group of women met around Alice’s kitchen table every Monday to learn and share their knowledge and gifts with each other. She dreamed of opening a center where women could gather, where their children were welcome, and they could continue their journey of learning. In 1998, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, Alice’s dream came to fruition with the inception of Wise Women Gathering Place.
Although Alice and her midwife partner, Beverly Scow, continued their midwifery practice, requests from the community for assistance began to grow. Alice understood midwifery’s cradle-to-grave nature beyond “catching babies” to include natural medicines and remedies, helping with relationship issues, providing shelter from abusive partners, accompanying the final stages of life, and everything in between. Requests included domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy, housing for those harmed by domestic violence and sexual assault, assistance with pregnancy prevention, and healthy decision making around relationships. Programming and the number of staff grew to respond to the requests. As a result, Wise Women Gathering Place’s focus evolved to solely “community midwifery” in 2004. By that time, Alice had helped more than 750 babies be born at home.
During her tenure as WWGP’s executive director, Alice served on the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse, the Disability Rights Wisconsin Board of Directors, Wisconsin’s Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s Task Force, and Wise Women Gathering Place’s Board of Directors. In 1999, Alice created Discovery Dating - It’s not just about dating©, a healthy relationship and healthy decision-making curriculum. It emerged to be an evidence-based prevention and intervention program that grows individuals’ healthy decision-making skills, helping them build healthy relationships with partners, family, work, and beyond.
Alice brings wisdom, courage and perseverance to all that she does. She pushes the envelope on how we can do better for those most vulnerable, those who have been left out of the flow of services in our society. Although the Wise Women Gathering Place staff will miss her daily presence in the office, Alice’s guidance will continue as a member of WWGP’s Board of Directors. Beverly Scow has been named Interim Executive Director.
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