Liz Owens

Utah’s Educated Woman of the Week

Liz O Bio PicLiz Owens
Professor, Advocate

Where did you go to school?
Utah Valley University & University of Essex

What did you study?
Sociology & Human Rights

Tell us about your school/work life:
My educational and professional experience has focused on the intersectional experience of marginalized groups of women and central to my work is addressing violence against women, both in domestic abuse as well as state violence (including state supported sexism, racism and patriarchy).

I have had the opportunity to work at many levels within a social justice context, from direct service and grassroots advocacy, “on the frontlines,” to legislative lobbying and campaigning.

I received a BS in Sociology and an MA in Human Rights, and have gained practical experience working in the field of gender equality through campaigning, advocacy, research, service provision and training and education. I have over 8 years’ experience working and advocating with marginalized individuals and groups with wide ranging and complex needs; including women of color, trans* youth, adults and their loved ones, refugees and others with insecure immigration status, individuals who have been trafficked, involved in the criminal justice system, involved in gangs and/or drugs, drug trafficking, sex-work and prostitution, and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, among many others. As a woman of color and diverse ethnicity, I am reflective of my personal cultural identity and how that impacts and informs my work.

Where have you worked?
I lived and worked in London from 2007 until late 2011, attaining the role of Southern Services Manager for Women in Prison, an organization advocating and campaigning for women and girls affected by the criminal justice system. I was awarded a 2009-2010 Griffin’s Society Visiting Research Fellowship at the London School of Economics and Political Science where I researched the resettlement experiences of minority ethnic women in London. Upon return to Utah, I held the position of Transgender Program Coordinator for the Utah Pride Center from 2012 to 2014 before transitioning to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition in the role of Education & Training Coordinator, a position I held until September 2015. I am currently with Planned Parenthood Association of Utah as Community Engagement Coordinator. Since 2012, I have also held the role of Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Utah Valley University where I have taught a variety of courses including: Introduction to Sociology, Modern Social Problems, Gender Roles, Race & Minority Relations and Social Inequalities; and where I was awarded the 2014 Faculty Excellence Award for the College of Humanities and Social Science. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Salt Lake Community College where I have taught Introduction to Sociology and Race & Ethnicity; and an Adjunct Professor at Westminster College in the Master of Arts in Community Leadership, teaching Program Planning and Evaluation.

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I grew up in Provo, Utah; and I love to travel, talk, read, upcycle furniture, knit, crochet – and a good protest! I once walked 70 miles in 4 days through Spain just for fun and I am the proud pet-parent to two doggies, Flynn & Fia.

How do you de-stress?
I am very deliberate and consistent in trying to build self-care into my schedule. I literally schedule times within my regular work week for a massage, a long walk with my dogs, exercise or meeting friends for lunch and/or coffee. I consider this time as important as any other meeting or obligation. However, I often struggle to hold myself to these scheduled self-care events, often they are the first to go during a busy week and the last to be rescheduled or made-up. When I am able to really incorporate self-care, I find I am happier, less stressed, more confident and more optimistic in my work and in my personal life.

Are there major obstacles still limiting your achievement?
What are they, and what could be done about them?
I sometimes think about how I limit myself in ways I don’t even notice, until I take the time to reflect on a question like this. I’d like to go back to school and I have put it off due to lack of money and time (just for the testing and application process!). And there are a lot of real-practical obstacles as well (family, partner, employment etc) and on top of that I often doubt myself, think I’m not ready, I’m not qualified enough, etc. I guess the first step is to identify these obstacles and the next is to challenge them, take risks, be creative and keep going.