Iris Marion Young Award | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh
Students

Iris Marion Young Award

Call for Nominations

Do you know someone who is a leader in the struggle to achieve social justice? If so, we want to hear from you. The Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program, with contributions from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and others across the University community, has created the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement to honor those who work to promote justice in the University, at the local or national level, or across the globe. Like the philosopher and social theorist Iris Young, in whose memory the award is created, the Young Award recognizes that social activism takes many forms. Justice can be pursued in a variety of ways and places—in the classroom and workplace, in organizations, through specific projects, in academic scholarship, in politics and volunteer work. The venue doesn’t matter. The effort and quality of the contribution does. The Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program invites nominations of any members of the Pitt community staff or faculty—who work to promote social justice and democracy. The Program invites undergraduates and graduates to be nominated for the Iris Marion Young Undergraduate and Graduate Awards. Because Young’s vision holds gender equity to be an integral component of social justice, the Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program especially welcomes nominations of individuals whose work explicitly engages issues of gender and sexual orientation.

To nominate a candidate for the Iris Marion Young Award, send an email to gsws@pitt.edu. Include three things: your name and contact information, the nominee’s name and contact information, and a couple of sentences explaining why you are nominating that person. Nominations may also be mailed to the Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program. Our address  is 401 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. You and your nominee will be contacted to follow up on your nomination. A fall deadline is announced each year.

History

Iris Marion YoungThe Young Award for Political Engagement honors Iris Marion Young, a philosopher and social theorist of international renown.  Young was a professor in GSPIA during the 1990s before taking a position as Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago in 2000.  She died in 2006 of cancer.

At Pitt, Young was a galvanizing presence, active in the Women’s Studies Program as well as within GSPIA. During her time in Pittsburgh, Young volunteered and organized on behalf of peace and social justice, fair labor practices, adult literacy, and children’s rights, among other causes, and she worked to combat hate groups and poverty.

GSPIA and the Women’s Studies Program inaugurated the award in 2008 to honor Young’s memory and recognize a member of the Pitt community whose actions have had political impact within the University or beyond.  In 2009, GSPIA established the Iris M. Young Lecture in Civic Engagement to mark the event, and Women's Studies added an undergraduate award.  A graduate student award was added in 2011. 

Past Award Winners

Sara A. Goodkind  2017 Faculty Award

Sara A. Goodkind has served as a professor within Pitt’s School of Social Work since 2006. She holds secondary appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program. Goodkind’s research focuses on programs and services for young people, particularly those in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She is interested in how understandings of gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and age shape service design and delivery and how these, in turn, affect the mental health and well-being of young people, parents, and staff members. Goodkind earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Amherst College in 1993 as well as her Masters of Social Work and a PhD in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2005. 

Shenay D. Jeffrey  2017 Staff Award

Shenay D. Jeffrey serves as an outreach coordinator for PittServes, a university-wide initiative that connects students with volunteer opportunities. In this role, she works to develop and nurture partnerships with more than 300 community agencies, nonprofits organizations, and regional groups. Jeffrey also was a major organizer and recruiter for prominent Pitt service activities, such as Pitt Make A Difference Day. Outside of Pitt, Jeffrey is the president of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Young Professionals. She also holds leadership positions within the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP), New Voices for Reproductive Justice, and the Pittsburgh Civic Leadership Academy. In 2010, Jeffrey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Information Management from Pitt and a Masters of Public Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2016. 

Abigail R. Cartus  2017 Graduate Award

Abigail R. Cartus is the cofounder of Pittsburgh Lead Action Now, a citizen-led group working for lead-free drinking water in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, she worked with a coalition of women and femme activists to organize the Pittsburgh International Women’s Strike/Paro de Mujeres. In addition to Pittsburgh Lead Action Now, Cartus is a member of Pitt’s Graduate Student Organizing Committee and the Democratic Socialists of America. In 2010, Cartus earned a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Pitt. She earned a Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology from the University of Texas at Austin. Cartus is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in epidemiology and plans to graduate in 2021. 

C. Elizabeth Shaaban  2017 Graduate Award

C. Elizabeth Shaaban is the cofounder of Pittsburgh Lead Action Now, a citizen-led group working for a lead-free drinking water in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, she played an integral role in the planning and execution of March for Science Pittsburgh. In addition to Pittsburgh Lead Action Now, Shaaban is a member of Pitt’s Graduate Student Organizing Committee, the Pittsburgh chapter of Women in Bio, and a community garden in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, among other organizations. Shaaban earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology as well as a Master of Public Health degree at Pitt. She currently is pursuing a PhD at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and plans to graduate in 2018.

Mary-Katherine Koenig  2017 Undergraduate Award

Mary-Katherine Koenig has campaigned for passage of a birth-record modernization bill in her home state of Illinois. She established the “I Am __” Project, a photography series centering on transgender communities in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The series has been prominently displayed within the Pitt Program Council Gallery and the Thomas Merton Center. Koenig has written for the literary journal BlazeVox, The Original Magazine, and The Fourth Wave, an undergraduate intersectional feminist magazine. Her photography has been featured in The Pitt News, Hot Metal Bridge Magazine, and NewPeople, Pittsburgh’s peace and social justice activist newspaper. Koenig is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history. She plans to graduate from Pitt in December 2018. 

Jackie Smith  2016 Faculty Award

Jackie Smith is professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and editor of the Open Access Journal of World-Systems Research. Her research addresses relationships between globalization and social movements, and recent books include: Social Movements and World-System Transformation (co-edited with Michael Goodhart, Patrick Manning, and John Markoff), and Social Movements in the World-System: The Politics of Crisis and Transformation (with Dawn Wiest). Smith is co-founder and co-coordinator of the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, and serves on the national steering committee of the National Human Rights City Network. She is co-founder of the International Network of Scholar-Activists and serves on the Leadership Committee of May First/People Link, a technology and communications rights organization.

Sheila Confer  2016 Staff Award

Sheila Confer is Assistant Director of the Academic Village at Pitt-Greensburg. She also teaches in the Theatre Department. Confer brings social justice education and trainings to the campus community through Pitt-Greensburg’s Academic Village, Allies Network and Committee for Gender Equity, which she chairs. Outside of her work at Pitt, Confer serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Blackburn Center, Westmoreland County’s only anti-violence agency. She also works on Blackburn’s Social Transformation Committee and as the liaison for the agency’s ongoing relationship with Pitt-Greensburg. Confer is a 2014 winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the University.

Hanifa Nakiryowa  2016 Graduate Award

Hanifa Nakiryowa is currently a H. J. Heinz fellow with the Global Studies Centre, pursuing a master of International Development-Human Security at GSPIA. She has a certificate in Global Change Leadership from COADY International Institute, Canada and a master’s degree in Economics from University of Nairobi. She has worked as a UNICEF-Uganda program monitoring and evaluation specialist, human rights advocate for Acid Survivors Foundation Uganda and tutor at the Islamic University in Uganda. She founded the Centre for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and burns Violence (CERESAV), the only NGO in Uganda advocating for ZERO tolerance to Acid Attack Violence.

Saskia Berrios-Thomas  2016 Undergraduate Award

Saskia Berrios-Thomas is a senior majoring in social work and minoring in economics. Saskia is deeply committed to working for those affected by sexual violence and child abuse. She has conducted research projects on sexual violence prevention and has published work in undergraduate and professional journals. Saskia is currently an intern at Allegheny County CYF. She is a Pitt sexual assault peer educator and annually volunteers at a Native American emergency foster care home. She volunteers regularly with her therapy dog and also works two part-time jobs. In her free time, Saskia enjoys spending time with her horse, family, and friends.

Robin Clarke  2015 Faculty Award

Robin Clarke has been highly active in numerous social-engagement movements within the city of Pittsburgh, including the ongoing efforts to preserve affordable rental housing in East Liberty and the fight to salvage UPMC Braddock in 2010. She is the author of the nonfiction book Lines the Quarry (Omnidawn, 2013), which examines aspects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster. In addition to teaching in Pitt’s Composition Program, Clark is a member of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers, which works to organize unions for academic workers in Pittsburgh.

Abigail Yochum  2015 Graduate Award

Abigail Yochum serves as director of development at the Pitt Legal Income Sharing Foundation, vice president of the Pitt Law Democrats, and articles editor for the Pittsburgh Tax Review. Outside of Pitt, she has contributed her legal expertise to the Community Justice Project, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. In addition to the Iris Marion Young Award, her other recent honors and distinctions include Pitt’s Judge Harry A. Kramer Scholarship, Dean’s Merit Scholarship, and Public Interest Scholarship. Yochum looks to focus her professional career in the areas of feminist advocacy and reproductive rights.

Marko Gudic  2015 Undergraduate Award

Marko Gudic established Pittsburgh’s Deliberative Community Budget Forums, which works to increase public participation in the city’s annual capital-budget hearings. As a student activist, he cofounded Pitt’s Student Media Collaborative and has been an active member within the University’s chapters of Americans for Informed Democracy and Luso-Brazilian Student Association. Outside of Pitt, he has worked extensively with social-advocacy organizations such as the Thomas Merton Center and Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations. Gudic is passionate about public policy and international development and is committed to a career innovating government through the advancement of democracy and the application of technology.

Irene Frieze  2014 Faculty Award

Since Irene Frieze arrived in Pittsburgh in 1972 to establish the Women's Studies Program, she has worked consistently on behalf of women and Women's Studies, at Pitt, in the region, and in the field of psychology. Some community projects have included setting up a referral list of feminist therapists, serving as expert witness in sexual harassment cases, and co-coordinating a SW PA conference on the mental health needs of women. She has edited the journal Sex Roles and the Journal of Social Issues — for the latter she initiated issues on "Voices of Poor Women," women and leadership, and prejudice against employed mothers. She has also made Pitt more women-friendly by developing the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Women's Concerns, and the more recent Ad Hoc Committee on Contingent Faculty. She directed the Women's Studies Program 1984-89 and 1993 and continued to be an active member of the steering committee until 2014.

Yumna Rathore  2014 Graduate Award

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Yumna Rathore is a recent graduate of the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA) and is currently an International Consultant at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Beijing, China.  She has worked, documented and presented on girls’ education and empowerment in Pakistan and other countries in South Asia. As Co-President of Daya: International Consultants for Peace Initiatives, she organized peace and conflict-resolution workshops in Pittsburgh and launched an internship program in India for students looking to work on gender and religious justice issues. She also co-founded an online theology journal called Fusion for young adults to openly express views on faith. Yumna currently works on poverty reduction and climate change advocacy campaigns in China. Originally from Pakistan, Yumna Rathore has lived, worked, studied, or traveled in twenty countries.

Joseph Thomas  2014 Undergraduate Award

Joseph Thomas is a founding member of AIDPitt and NoSweat: Pitt Coalition Against Sweatshops, whose successful campaign led to Pitt’s commitment to sell union-made apparel.  His volunteer work has made positive impacts on social, economic, and health issues both locally and abroad, and he has spoken on his experiences for national conferences and small panels.  Joseph Thomas focused his honors level undergraduate work at Pitt in the areas of biology, chemistry, and political science, and won several fellowships for his research on biofilm formation in Mycobacterium smegmatis.

Jessie B. Ramey  2013 Faculty Award

Jessie B. Ramey, currently an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in Women’s Studies and History at the University of Pittsburgh.  Ramey is being honored for her activism on behalf of public education in Western Pennsylvania.  She is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Great School Coalition, an organization devoted to improving public schools and public school funding in Western Pennsylvania, and the lead author of the blog with the same goal, Yinzercation.  As a result of these efforts, Ramey has twice been invited to the White House to meet with President Obama’s senior policy advisors about educational issues.  Ramey’s scholarship supports her interest in children’s welfare and opportunities.  She is the author of Childcare in Black and White: Working Parents and the History of Orphanages (University of Illinois Press, 2012), which won the Lerner-Scott prize in women’s history from the Organization of American Historians, the Herbert G. Gutman Prize of the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and the John Heinz Award of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Sherdina D. Harper  2013 Staff Award

Sherdina D. Harper is being honored for her exemplary work as Coordinator of Cross Cultural Programming at Pitt.  Harper advises several student organizations at Pitt (Rainbow Alliance, Black Action Society, and Campus Women’s Organization) and provides diversity trainings and workshops, including the Allies Training for staff and faculty about how to support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer) students at Pitt.

Alicia Williamson  2013 Graduate Award

Alicia Williamson, currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Lecturer in the English Department, is being honored for her accomplishments as a PhD student.  Williamson was a founding member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a grassroots organization begun in 2010 that brings together transit riders, drivers, and supporters.  The group works to stop service cuts and fare hikes and to make public transportation cheaper and better.    She has also been a member of the Thomas Merton Center’s Economic Justice Committee, and she has recently helped to found the Pittsburgh Collaborative for Working Class Studies, an organization that brings together scholars from several Pittsburgh colleges and universities. 

Audrey-Marie H. Winn - 2013 Undergraduate Award

Audrey-Marie H. Winn is a junior majoring in Philosophy, Chinese, and Nonfiction Writing.  She is being honored for activism and service conducted in the Pittsburgh area and China.  She has worked locally as a reading tutor through AmeriCorps VISTA, and as a result of this work, she founded a community service initiative to provide communal bookshelves in low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods.  She has also worked as a Legal Intake Intern for the ACLU.  Winn extended her work for social justice to a new field this summer when she began compiling statements from migrant workers while living and studying in Chengdu, China.  She presented her research in Mandarin Chinese to students and administrators at Sichuan University, one of the largest employers of migrant workers in central China.   

Carrie R. Leana  2012 Faculty Award

Carrie R. Leana is a George H. Love Professor of Organizations and Management and Professor of Business Administration, with joint appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, School of Medicine, and Learning, Research and Development Center at the University.  She holds her PhD in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy from the University of Houston, and her MBA and BA degrees from Baylor University.  She has won numerous awards--for research, academic leadership, teaching, and in 2003, the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Public Service.  She has brought her academic expertise and social engagement to serve the public in an impressive array of activities--as a scholar, writing on Coping with Job Loss (1992) and Relational Wealth (2000), as a consultant and in public testimony on behalf of grassroots organizations, nonprofit groups, and lower level employees faced with the challenges of a shrinking labor economy, and especially in her ten-year commitment to the Three Rivers Community Foundation.

Natalie (Tasha) L. Kimball  2012 Graduate Award

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Natalie (Tasha) Kimball is a doctoral candidate in History who has integrated her activites as researcher and activist, first as a bilingual labor organizer and women's health-care advocate in Seattle, then in her work as a student and activist in Pittsburgh and Bolivia.  Beginning in 2003 with a Fulbright grant to study in Bolivia, Tasha focused her research on the gender inequality prevalent in mining communities, addressing domestic violent, the politics of unwanted pregnancy, and women's reproductive rights.  Adept in languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and beginning Quechua), she interviewed women, health care providers, and women's rights activists, and was active in efforts to promote women's reproductive rights.  She received her BA from the University of Washington, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and her MA from the University of Pittsburgh, where she has received travel awards, research and field support, and a Mellon fellowship.

Lauren M. Hasek  2012 Undergraduate Award

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Lauren M. Hasek is pursuing a BPhil in Political Science, with a double major in Neuroscience, a minor in Chemistry, and a program in Swahili.  A member of the executive board of Student Leaders in International Medicine (SLIM) at Pitt, she also works as a biology tutor with the Academic Resource Center and is a member of the Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) Honorary Society.  She writes for The Pitt Pulse and serves as a resident assistant, and has participated in research on high-risk obstetric patients in Pittsburgh.  Her participation in the Honors College Brackenridge Research Fellowship program and SLIM led Lauren to investigate HIV education policy effects on preventative infant feeding practices in Lilongwe, Malawi. She is currently developing a new study on socialized healthcare policies with the private clinics and the Malawian Ministry of Gender.

Deborah Brake  2011 Faculty Award

Deborah Brake is professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in gender justice, feminist legal theory, and discrimination in institutions (such as sport, the workplace, and schools). Brake earned her JD from Harvard Law School (where she was a member of the Law Review) and  her BA in Political Science from Stanford (member of Phi Beta Kappa).  As a practicing public interest lawyer, Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, and as a professor, she uses scholarship and legal activism to shape the law to respond to gender injustice.  “I am interested in what theory can do, and not so much in theory for its own sake,” Brake writes, and her career demonstrates the powerful connections between her scholarship (notable publications include Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution and an influential article on “leveling down”) and more direct legal action (amicus curiae briefs, testimony before congressional committees).

Anne Marie Toccket – 2011 Graduate Award

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Anne Marie Toccket is a master’s student in international development at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.  She is a founding member of Awamaki, an NGO dedicated to sustainable development and fair-trade tourism in Peru. Awamaki supports an indigenous weaving community, provides healthcare and educational benefits, and arranges for the women to display their work outside of Peru. Toccket graduated from Penn State in 2006 with a B. A. in Spanish, International Studies and Communication.  In addition to her work in Peru, she served with the Vista program in Puerto Rico. At college, she worked for Voices of Central Pennsylvania, an alternative newspaper, and The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. One of her reviewer’s wrote lauded her persistent and deep commitment to the cause of women and economic justice.  Her graduate work is deepening her understanding of gender dynamics in economic  processes.

Megan L. Neuf  2011 Undergraduate Award

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Megan Neuf has a long experience of social justice activism for one working on her B.A. in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. In high school, she organized a group called ”M-Powerment” to educate young women on pressing social issues, including sexual assault, body image, depression, and stress.  In college, she has been active in Strong Women Strong Girls, the YMCA, and the Fair Trade Movement, and participated in a Leadership and Social Justice Learning Community at Pitt, where she assisted at an elementary school in Cleveland and worked to analyze social issues. She traveled to Ecuador to work with the Rostro de Cristo volunteer project and had an internship working with the Heinz Endowments on youth philanthropy and activism.

Gail Austin  2010 Award

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Gail Austin has worked for forty years as an advocate for civil rights, human rights, and peace--both at the University and in the community.  She received her BA from Pitt in French literature and has done graduate work in psychology and anthropology.  As a student in the late 1960s, she was inspired by the Civil Rights movement (and by visits to Pitt by such activists as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael).  With other activists from Pitt and the community, she helped form the Afro-American Cultural Society to increase the number of black students, staff, and faculty at the University.  She has been an advocate and resource for students in her roles as staff member of UCEP (University Challenge for Excellence Program) and more recently as Director of the Academic Resource Center.  She served on the Pitt Divestment committee, urging the University to divest its holdings in South Africa.  She has also worked in her community to improve social conditions of inner city neighborhoods.  She is currently active in Black Voices for Peace and is president of Kente Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to community arts.

Michelle S. McGowan  2010 Student Award

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Michelle McGowan received her BA in Social Work in April 2010 from the University of Pittsburgh and plans to pursue a master's in social work.  She has worked locally and abroad to support at-risk women and their reproductive choices.  She began her political activism in high school, taking part in the Million Women March, attending youth leadership conferences, and earning a service learning certificate for work with Easter Seals and Planned Parenthood.  At Pitt, she has participated in Students Taking Action Now in Darfur (STAND), the G20 Resistance Project, and Student Global AIDS day.  She studied and worked in South Africa, receiving a certificate in community development from Stellenbosch University and working with a grassroots organization to aid women at high risk for sexual assault and HIV.  Since 2008, she has interned at the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Melissa Swauger – 2009 Award

Melissa Swauger is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at Carlow University, having earned a 2008 Ph.D. in Sociology, with a Master’s Women’s Studies Certificate, from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.A. from Duquesne’s Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy. She has received grants from the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh and Gwen’s Girls for research and curriculum development about career possibilities for at-risk girls. She has pursued her commitments to empowering working-class women and girls in both academic and public arenas. Active in numerous community organizations, including the Girls Coalition of Southwestern PA, Women and Girls Foundation, and the Carnegie’s Girls, Math and Science Partnership, she has also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters programs and organizations for battered women and abused children.

Aaron M. Arnold – 2009 Student Award

Aaron M. Arnold graduated in April 2009 from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Sociology, a minor in Africana Studies, and a certificate in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Named in 2005 as a Time-Warner/Point Foundation Scholar, he received the Robert W. Avery Award for excellence in undergraduate studies from Sociology and in 2008 was inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership honors society. As a Brackenridge fellow in the Honors College, Aaron carried out a research study on HIV/AIDS educational materials in Lagos, Nigeria. He has interned with Heartland Alliance, a refugee health education program, and, at the University, been a leader of Rainbow Alliance, a GLBTQA student support organization and the Campus Women’s Organization’s production of Vagina Monologues.

Audrey J. Murrell – 2008 Award

Dr. Audrey J. Murrell is Director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership and an Associate Professor of Business Administration.  Murrell came to Pitt in 1987 as a faculty member in the Psychology Department, where she retains an appointment.  She has been active in the Women’s Studies Program, has been a faculty coordinator for Pitt’s Faculty Diversity Seminar, and has been Chair of the University Senate Anti-Discrimination Committee. Murrell’s institutional leadership and her social activism have already earned many awards and honors, including the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public and Community Service Award in 1998.  She participates in numerous local organizations, including Leadership Pittsburgh, Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, and the Minority Enterprise Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. She is also a former chair of the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division of the Academy of Management Association.

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