Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dr. Lisa Edwards, The Connector 

Highlighting women who advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion 

March is Women’s History Month, a yearly celebration of women’s contributions and accomplishments throughout the United States. Originally started as “Women’s History Week,” the national monthly observance was enacted into law in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan.  

Marquette University was the first Catholic university in the world to educate women alongside men. In 1909, Marquette President Father James McCabe, S.J., began to permit women to enroll in Bachelor of Arts classes at a new summer school. Despite initial pushback, his bold action paved the way for gender equity at Marquette.  

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” acknowledging that gender equality requires that we eliminate all forms of bias and discrimination from our institutions. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, Marquette Today is featuring several outstanding women who are creating their own history by advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion among the Marquette community and beyond. 

Meet Dr. Lisa M. Edwards, professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, and director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership 

As the new director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership, Dr. Lisa M. Edwards spends her days connecting with the community in and around Marquette to advance gender-related research and promote leadership development among women. Her research focuses on the health and well-being of Latinx women who are pregnant or postpartum.  

Culture and Well-Being Research Lab members: Left to right: Dr. Lisa Edwards, Mackenzie Goertz, Ashley Faytol, Kat McConnell, Karina Loyo

“I’m driven to advocate for those who are traditionally underserved or experience mental health disparities within our society,” Edwards says. 

She launched Proyecto Mamá, a grant-funded resource and needs assessment of perinatal mental health among Latinas in the Milwaukee area. Edwards also currently co-directs the Multicultural Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative

“For so long, the field of psychology neglected diversity and assumed that theories and interventions could be applied universally to everyone,” Edwards says. “We now understand we can’t do that, and that we need to attend to context, cultural strengths and other forms of resilience that haven’t been traditionally studied. I’m motivated to continue to explore these processes and consider how we can break down barriers that prevent people from experiencing well-being.”  

Reflecting on Women’s History Month, Edwards says she finds inspiration from the strong women in her family from North and South America who live authentic lives while navigating obstacles and pushing against traditional expectations of womanhood.  

“I also think of the mothers I have met through my research — mothers who do their best for their children, families and communities despite not having access to so many of the privileges that I’ve had in my life. Those women inspire me daily,” Edwards says. 

During her 19 years at Marquette, she’s seen steady growth in Marquette’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and looks forward to building upon the Institute for Women’s Leadership’s strong foundation.  

“I’ve always been particularly impressed with Marquette’s community engagement and the intentional ways that students, staff and faculty create collaborations in their work,” Edwards says. “Working towards social justice is an ongoing process and there is always more to be done; I’m grateful to be able to contribute to this mission in any way that I can.”