By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University will kick off its celebration of Women's History Month," which has the theme "Providing Healing, Promoting Hope," with a talk by the first Black woman to be hired as an on-field NFL official.

Maia Chaka will discuss her journey and experiences in a "Women in Sports & Leadership: Making Her-Story" presentation at 6 p.m. March 1 in the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The Women and Gender Equity Center is hosting the event.

Heavy hors d'oeuvres and light refreshments will be provided by the Office of Community Engagement, University Events and University Licensing, which are co-sponsoring the event. It is free and open to the ODU community and the general public. RSVP at this link.

Chaka made her NFL debut this past September. She is the second woman to be hired as a full-time NFL official, after Sarah Thomas.

"This historic moment, to me, is an honor and it's a privilege that I've been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America, proving that I can defy the odds and overcome," Chaka said in a video released by the NFL before her first game.

Her talk will come exactly one year after she learned she was being hired by the NFL.

Chaka, a 2006 graduate of Norfolk State University, began officiating high school games in 2007 and Division I college football games in 2011. She joined the NFL's Officiating Development Program in 2014. Away from the field, she is the student success coordinator with Virginia Beach's An Achievable Dream Academy.

ODU's Women's History Month programs will pay tribute to the work of caregivers and frontline workers during the pandemic and recognize the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided healing and hope throughout history.

Other events scheduled this month:

March 2: Racism and Colorism: A Global Perspective, 5 p.m. A student-led virtual panel discussion about girls' and women's experiences with colorism and racism from the United States, Caribbean, African and South Asian communities.

March 3: International Women's Day Celebration, 12:30 p.m., Webb Center (Mane HUB, Office of Intercultural Relations Affinity Spaces). The Mane Hub will have a rolling wall with historic and contemporary women who have made contributions throughout the world.

March 3: Gender, Engineering and Solutions, 12:30 p.m., Perry Library. Annette Finley-Croswhite, history professor and director of the Center for Faculty Development, will deliver the keynote address, "Women in STEM: Past, Present, Future." Additionally, mechanical and aerospace students will share presentations on how gender impacts engineering design and careers. For more info contact Engineering and Physical Sciences Librarian Abbie Basile, at

March 15: "Dreams Without Goals are Nightmares: How to Use the Bragg Factor in Record Time," 5 p.m., Williamsburg Room, Webb Center, hybrid-virtual. Dr. Winifred Bragg, CEO of the Spine and Orthopedic Pain Center in Norfolk and creator of the Bragg Factor®, a system that propels people in their personal and professional lives, will utilize her new workbook "Dreams Without Goals are Nightmares" to discuss how to identify and achieve goals.

March 17: Making Her Mark: Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners, 5 p.m., Portsmouth Room, Webb Center. In a moderated panel, local female entrepreneurs and business owners will discuss their challenges and barriers to success, how they've overcome them, and other tips for aspiring women and minority entrepreneurs.

March 17 (6:30 p.m.) and March 18 (10 a.m.): Women in Sports Symposium, Chartway Arena. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, ODU's athletic department will host a two-day symposium to celebrate the trailblazing women paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in sports. For more info, contact Ron Moses, executive senior associate athletic director, at

March 23: Let's Talk: Intersectional Women's Contemporary Issues, 5 p.m., Executive Dining Room, Webb Center. A student-led panel that will include military veterans, STEM and women's studies students and student-athletes, will discuss their perspectives on contemporary women's issues, challenges and barriers to success, and how to move toward a more equitable future.

March 24: Violence Communicates: Rethinking U.S. College Responses to Sexual Violence, 5:45 p.m., via Zoom. Kate Lockwood Harris, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota, will discuss why colleges should consider new strategies to create expanded possibilities for prevention, intervention and response. This event is hosted by the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts in the College of Arts and Letters.

March 30: River Stories, 5 p.m., Newport News Room, Webb Center. Co-sponsored by the Theatre Department, River Stories is a ritualistic self-reflection activity providing a creative and artistic way to build community through the sharing of stories. It is a reflective exercise in identity development for women.

March 31: Trans* Enough: A Visibility Extravaganza, noon, The Quad. This year's Trans Day of Visibility keynote speaker and community event is hosted by Asterisk, ODU Trans* Student Advisory Board.

March 31: Equal Pay Day, 12:30 p.m., Front Lobby B, Webb Center. This activity-hour program will highlight the importance of Equal Pay Day and the wage gaps /economic disparities women in America face.

For more information about Women's History Month events, contact ODU's Women and Gender Equity Center at 757-683-4109 or

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