Restorative Justice Lessons Lead to Job Skills

Kalamazoo College is known for providing academic experiences that can lead to real-world jobs. Take the example of Steph Guyor ’22.

Guyor’s senior seminar, led by Associate Professor of English Ryan Fong, tackled the concept of restorative or transformative justice, a newer community-based practice that helps society do more than hold law breakers accountable in a criminal justice system. Instead, restorative justice also addresses the dehumanization an offender typically experiences with their punishment, offering basic services along with pathways for making amends to victims and the community, reducing the likelihood for recidivism.

“Within the U.S., justice is traditionally focused on the offender and the crime they committed,” Guyor said. “The punishments are seen as deserved. Yet by focusing on the punishment, the factors that led to the harm being committed often go unexamined, and the needs of the person who’s harmed remain unmet. Viewing punishment as the only appropriate response around accountability ends up taking the form of shame and isolation, which furthers the relational divide and deters people from changing their harmful behaviors. Restorative and transformative justice work to reorient accountability away from punishments and toward meaningful consequences that allow connections to be restored and relational dynamics to be restored.”

Guyor, who double majored in psychology and women and gender studies (WGS), was intrigued by these concepts and said Fong’s class was enjoyable because it allowed her to see justice in a different way. Then came an opportunity to connect those studies to a job, when she heard Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo was hiring a restorative justice coordinator. The nonprofit organization is a secular, daytime shelter and resource center open 365 days a year that helps local residents address homelessness, poverty, substance abuse and other crises.

“I saw the posting and thought it could be an opportunity to make change locally in Kalamazoo in a way that’s influenced by getting to know people,” Guyor said. “I knew I wanted to try to find a way to integrate the psychological understanding of why people do what they do with a socially informed understanding of how social circumstances influence it.”

And today, Guyor relishes her job, which involves learning more about the restorative justice practices in place around the country while collecting data to determine what she can do to solve problems in Kalamazoo. Hopefully, that will lead to a new yet well-rounded restorative justice program at Ministry with Community that reduces the likelihood of repeat offenses.

“It comes with a lot of responsibility that a big part of me was afraid to take on given the idea that I did just graduate,” she said. “But it’s also a unique opportunity that I’m excited to have. I think the goal will be a culture shift within the organization so there will be fewer incidents with fewer people breaking community expectations, and more trust between the members, and between members and staff.”

Guyor said a common misconception about restorative or transformative justice is that it’s soft on offenders—that it lets people off the hook and fails to follow through on a punishment. She cautions against that idea.

“In reality, facing the people who you hurt and holding the space for them to explain their hurt is a lot harder,” Guyor said. “Restorative justice is about having high expectations for people along with a lot of support. It makes sure we’re holding people accountable to the changes they work toward, but not in a way that revolves around shame. In punitive settings, you’re doing things to people. In permissive settings, you’re doing things for people. But restorative justice is more about working with people to make change.”

Fong said he’s likely to continue teaching about restorative and transformative justice at K.

“So many students, especially WGS students, are interested in social justice and activism, but don’t always know what it looks like in practice beyond demonstrations and non-profit work,” he said. “In the wake of the 2020 protests and calls to defund the police, I saw many students wondering what that demand meant. Doing a deep dive into restorative and transformative justice was one way to understand how abolitionist organizers were working in concrete ways to build new systems and structures that address and eliminate violence.”

He’s also incredibly proud of Guyor and honored that he played a role in helping her find her career path.

“I hope she keeps drawing on the skills and knowledge she gained at K and as a WGS student to continue on it for the rest of her life,” Fong said. “That’s really my hope for all our WGS students: that they find meaningful ways to put their education into action.”

Donations Fund Restorative Justice Programs

Ministry with Community, a nonprofit organization, accepts donations for the restorative justice programs being built by K alumna Stephanie Guyor ’22. To donate directly to restorative justice efforts, visit the organization’s website.

Restorative justice professional Steph Guyor '22 outside Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo
Steph Guyor ’22 took classroom experiences with restorative justice and transformed them into a career at Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo.
Guyor, who double majored in psychology and women and gender studies at K, now works as the restorative justice coordinator at Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo.

K Professor Co-Edits Book on Women Who Knew George Washington

Cover of book on women in the life of George Washington
Professor of History Charlene Boyer Lewis is a co-editor
of “Women in George Washington’s World.”

Although women’s historians have written about women in the American Revolution since the 1970s, many people still think of the war as a men’s event. 

Women in George Washington’s World (University of Virginia Press, 2022) aims to be part of a new wave of efforts to reframe the American Revolution as a war that heavily involved women. Published this month, the book is co-edited by Charlene Boyer Lewis ’87, Kalamazoo College professor of history and director of the American Studies and the Women, Gender and Sexuality programs.  The book includes an essay written by Boyer Lewis on Peggy Arnold, the wife of infamous traitor Benedict Arnold. 

“For too long when people think of the American Revolution, they think of men, they think of soldiers and they think of the guys in Philadelphia who signed the Declaration of Independence,” Boyer Lewis said. “This is part of the project to rethink and re-present the American Revolution as a war that included women, a war that affected women, a war that women affected.”  

A 2018 symposium at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia about women and George Washington, where Boyer Lewis and her co-editor, George Boudreau, were both presenters, served as the inspiration for the book. 

“It’s a collection of essays written by academic historians as well as public historians,” Boyer Lewis said. “We have people who are out in the museum world and historical societies contributing to this as well as academics, so it’s a broad range of kinds of historians. They were all wonderful and the book turned out to be exactly what we wanted it to be.” 

Including public historians was part of an intentional effort to create a history book that was accessible to a general audience. Also key to that effort was a focus on story telling. 

Kalamazoo College Professor of History Charlene Boyer Lewis
Kalamazoo College Professor of History Charlene Boyer Lewis ’87

“Historians have to tell a good story along with a good argument or interpretation of the past,” Boyer Lewis said. “This was put out by an academic press and peer reviewed by scholars. Every essay meets scholarly academic standards, and at the same time, every single one of those chapters tell really good stories that I think people are going to enjoy reading.” 

The essays feature famous women such as Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Phyllis Wheatley, lesser-known women such as Elizabeth Willing Powel, and unknown women, including women enslaved by the Washington family. Boyer Lewis recounted a story of one such woman who ran away while Washington was president and was never caught despite his efforts to track her down. 

“It was important to us to look at a wide variety of women in George Washington’s world,” Boyer Lewis said. “Women who loved him, women who cared for him and also women who challenged him and frustrated him.” 

This is the first editing endeavor for Boyer Lewis, who is the author of two books, Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) and Ladies and Gentlemen on Display: Planter Society at the Virginia Springs, 1790-1860 (University of Virginia Press, 2001). She found the collaboration with Boudreau to be fruitful as they brought different strengths to the project, and the overall process to be surprisingly smooth. 

“Everybody said, ‘No, you don’t want to edit a book, it’s like herding cats,’” Boyer Lewis said. “My contributors were wonderful so it went a lot more smoothly than I had thought. There was a lot of passion and commitment to this work that made it easier.”

That passion and commitment proved key when the COVID-19 pandemic hit mid-project.

“George and I had all these plans of being together in person and working on the book, and that didn’t happen,” Boyer Lewis said. “There were lots of phone calls, lots of zoom calls. There were archives that people needed to go and do research in that were closed.”

Even without COVID restrictions, research for the book was a complicated affair.

“The archives of the time were meant to preserve the records of men,” Boyer Lewis said. “We’re dealing with small amounts or almost non-existent records of women. Even somebody like Martha Washington, whom you would think there must be copious amounts of sources—she burned everything. So even piecing together her life can be a challenge, let alone the enslaved women who worked for the Washingtons. That is real detective work.”

National Archives Museum
online book talk 

  • Tuesday, July 26 from 1 to 2 p.m.
    Women in George Washington’s World  
  • Co-edited by Charlene Boyer Lewis, Kalamazoo College professor of history and director of the American Studies and the Women, Gender and Sexuality programs, and George W. Boudreau, historian of early Anglo-America and public history. 
  • Co-editors Boyer Lewis and Boudreau will discuss their book, a collection of essays examining women at the time of the American Revolution who had complex relationships with George Washington and the roles those women played in shaping the nation, with Lorri M. Glover, professor of history, Saint Louis University. View on YouTube 
  • Women in George Washington’s World is widely available for purchase. 

Each subject presented her own challenges. Poet Phyllis Wheatley left many poems but few letters or other records. Although Abigail Adams left copious correspondence with her husband, John Adams, using those letters to analyze her relationship with and thoughts about George Washington is convoluted. Contributors writing about enslaved women went through the most “mental gymnastics,” Boyer Lewis said, to “sift through and find two sentences in a letter where a white slave owner is talking about the enslaved woman and get as much out of those sentences as they can. 

“This book highlights how difficult women’s history is to do, yet how successfully it can be done.” 

As a women’s historian, Boyer Lewis found the completed work reaffirms what she has known and taught for years—that women are an important part of history. 

“When you use George Washington as the connection, and then you start looking at the women all around George Washington, it seems simple to say, but women are everywhere,” Boyer Lewis said. “They’re everywhere. Washington lived his life surrounded by women, and surrounded by women he listened to, who he was willing to be advised by. If we can show how much women mattered in George Washington’s life, then it will be a lot easier to make it clear how much women mattered everywhere else. If George Washington is having his life affected by women constantly, for better and for worse, women who worked with him and women who thwarted him, so did everybody else. It was just wonderful to have that reaffirmed for me that women are everywhere and they’re mattering everywhere.” 

K Students Want to Help Women, End Period Poverty

Nelly Rupande
Former visiting student Nelly Rupande co-authored a children’s book alongside five Kalamazoo College students. Let’s Talk About it, Period, is designed to help general audiences understand period poverty and stigma.

A group of Kalamazoo College students has a story to tell this International Women’s Day. It’s a story Shukurani A. Nsengiyumva ’20, Anne Kearney Patton ’22, Juanita Ledesma ’21, Kushi Matharu ’22 and Catherine Dennis ’22 created in the form of a children’s book with former visiting student Nelly Rupande through Associate Professor of Psychology Karyn Boatwright and her Feminist Psychology of Women class.

The book, titled Let’s Talk About It, Period, depicts period poverty, referring to a woman’s inadequate access to menstrual-hygiene products, along with period stigma directed toward the main character, a fourth-grade girl in Kenya experiencing her first period.

The story is important because “we want to fight the stigma that exists around periods and menstruation, and share what happens when you shame someone for having something so natural,” said Nsengiyumva, who supervised the project as a teacher’s assistant. She experienced period poverty herself during the early years of her period, only receiving pads when she went to boarding school. Otherwise, her mom couldn’t afford them. She resettled in the U.S. as a Rwandan refugee in 2013 at age 15.

“It’s a topic not just for those who experience menstruation, but those who might enforce the stigma related to it,” she added.

Period poverty and stigma are issues in countries around the world. The group from Boatwright’s class studied their effects this term through an eight-week syllabus developed by Rupande, who created the Binti Initiative.

Catherine Dennis
Catherine Dennis

Juanita Ledesma
Juanita Ledesma

Period Poverty Book Co-Author Shukurati Nsengiyumva
Shukurani Nsengiyumva

Rupande emerged as the top female student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and subsequently was chosen to attend K. Her nonprofit organization seeks to provide dignity to girls and women through access to feminine-hygiene products, educating girls about menstruation, and dispelling myths and negative perceptions of menstrual cycles.

Other topics in the syllabus included female circumcision and genital mutilation, sex education in Kenya, femicide, endometriosis and other period-related complications, and gender equality.

Period Poverty Book Co-Author Kushi Hashpreet
Kushi Matharu

Period Poverty Book Co-Author Anne Kearney Patton
Anne Kearney Patton

The group, with all serving as co-authors, concluded its work by presenting the film Period, a documentary on the stigma that surrounds menstruation in India.

“When Dr. Boatwright reached out to me with the opportunity to collaborate with the Feminist Psychology of women Class, I was thrilled,” Rupande said. “She was my professor while I was at K and the very first person to show me around Kalamazoo. She is definitely someone who believes in me and I look up to her as a mentor.”

The book’s resolution involves educating the characters, each with a role to play in recognizing period stigma and poverty, so readers can learn about their own responsibilities in dispelling myths, avoiding shaming and reversing negative perceptions. Characters include a father, a sister, a young boy and a teacher to reflect just a few of the book’s target audiences.

Lets Talk About it Period Poverty Book Cover“Some people are approaching us saying they’d love to buy it for their niece or their daughter, Nsengiyumva said. “We made it to look like a children’s book so it’s appealing to them, but adults can use it as well. We want to inform anyone who’s responsible for fighting the stigma.”

The Binti Initiative hires women around the world to produce and sell feminine-hygiene products in their communities while making the sellers economically independent. That allows people such as Rupande and her associates to continue menstruation-education efforts by training women and girls to run them. The goal is to change perceptions, address health issues, and provide a forum for women and men.

Nsengiyumva is hoping Let’s Talk About It, Period can eventually be a part of those education efforts and forums starting in Kenya with that country being just the beginning.

“There’s not yet a set plan, but I think it would be nice to distribute not only in Kenya, but here,” Nsengiyumva said.

Rupande adds the Binti Initiative is working with primary and elementary schools in Kenya to have the book available in libraries and community-resource centers by June. For more information on the book and its availability, email Nsengiyumva at

Bags to Benches Targets Plastic, Unites K

Bags to Benches Plastics Drive
Lezlie Lull ’20 participates in the Bags to Benches plastics drive that is uniting the Kalamazoo College community in an effort organized by the Council of Student Representatives and the Eco Club. If the campus can collect 500 pounds of plastic or 40,500 pieces of film during the six-month drive, it will receive a bench made of recycled plastic from the Trex Recycling Co. in Winchester, Virginia.

The Kalamazoo College Council of Student Representatives (KCCSR) and the Eco Club are offering a creative way for you to deal with your plastic waste—including that supply of plastic bags that seems to grow every time you shop.

From now until July, the organizations are collecting clean, dry and residue-free produce bags, closeable food-storage bags, cereal bags and more in receptacles around campus through their self-titled Bags to Benches program.

With the Bags to Benches program, a volunteer will weigh the plastic collected each month at the Hicks Student Center, Upjohn Library Commons, Dewing Hall, Dow Science Center, Anderson Athletic Center and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership collection sites. If the Trex Recycling Co. in Winchester, Virginia, then confirms that K’s plastics drive has gathered 500 pounds or 40,500 pieces of plastic film, bags and plastic during the six-month drive, the College will receive a bench made of recycled plastic it can place on campus.

Council of Student Representatives President Karina Pantoja encourages the K community to think big when dropping off plastic. Don’t just settle for plastic grocery bags; think about bread bags, bubble wrap, dry-cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic overwrap, closeable food-storage bags and more.

She said the Bags to Benches program began as representatives were looking for a way to unite the campus and build community around a common cause. The sustainability aspect of the project is a bonus and it shows prospective students they can come to K and seek ways of acting to benefit the greater community.

“We avoided making this a competition between student groups or departments because we think it’s important for everyone to come together and work toward one goal,” said Pantoja, of Paw Paw, Michigan, who majors in English with a concentration in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. “An effort like this can tell students that someone on campus cares about sustainability, that student contributions are valued, and that student representatives exemplify their values. It’s nice to have something that sustains an optimistic and exciting energy throughout campus as all of us can come together to accomplish a goal like this.”

For questions and more ideas about how you can support the Bags to Benches program, email KCCSR at

A Distinguished Dozen

Kalamazoo College 2017 Class Agents
Class agents (and their majors) for the class of 2017 are (l-r) front row–Kamal Kamalaldin (computer science), Bianca Delgado (political science), Kriti Singh (economics), Emma Franzel (theatre arts), Brooke Travis (anthropology and sociology); middle row–Emerson Brown (economics), Emily Levy (anthropology and sociology), Emily Finch (English and history), Chris Francis (economics); back row–Alivia DuQuet (political science and women, gender and sexuality studies) and Eric DeWitt (economics). Not pictured is Amanda Johnson (economics).

The class of 2017 has its agents, a dozen as distinguished as they are diverse. Alivia DuQuet, Amanda Johnson, Bianca Delgado, Brooke Travis, Chris Francis, Emerson Brown, Emily Finch, Emily Levy, Emma Franzel, Eric DeWitt, Kamal Kamalaldin and Kriti Singh come from four states and three countries and represent eight different majors, five different study abroad programs on four continents, one study away program and a K-Trek (K to the Big Apple). Seven will enter the work force after graduation (several with jobs already lined up), two will go to graduate school, two will take a gap year then proceed with their graduate educations, and one will do Teach for America before beginning grad school. Senior Individualized Projects ranged widely, and topics included, among others, state sexual education policies, climate adaption strategies, cultural institutions in Palestine, corporate venture capital investments, the Dodd-Frank Act, parental attitudes regarding corporal punishment, feminism performance theory and the U.S. primary care industry.

All of the class agents were asked why they wanted to take on this lifetime role. Their answers, understandably, varied and yet shared some common themes: an appreciation of the K learning experience, a desire to remain connected to classmates and the College and to pay forward the benefits of a K education. “Throughout my time at K,” said Singh, “I have realized the importance of financial support and support from alumni. I would love to be actively involved because a lot of students (unknowingly) benefit from the support from the people who have been giving back.” Kamalaldin agrees: “I want to be able to improve Kalamazoo College and stay connected to its mission. I want to give back the tremendous support and educational opportunity that Kalamazoo College gave me.”

Photo courtesy of Tony Dugal

Pro Voice: “You are not in her shoes.”

Throughout Winter Quarter 2016, students in the Kalamazoo College “Feminist Psychology of Women” course have interviewed a range of individuals associated with Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan. “ProVoice: The Abortion Monologues — You Are Not in Her Shoes,” a presentation in Dewing 103, Thursday March 3 at 7:00 p.m., is the result.

Directed by Lindsay Worthington ’17, ProVoice features K students presenting monologues based on their interviews with Planned Parenthood patients, advocates, and health care professionals. A “talk back” panel discussion will follow the presentation and feature K students, plus representatives from K faculty and Planned Parenthood. A reception follows the panel discussion.

The event is held in partnership with the College’s Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement, Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, and the Kalamazoo College departments of Psychology, English, and Women, Gender and Sexuality.