Yeskel, Felice

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Felice Yeskel was born and raised in Manhattan, the daughter of Harry and Phyllis Yeskel. She graduated from Seward Park High School in 1970, already a committed feminist and anti-war activist; her activism continued at the University of Rochester where she earned a B.A. in 1974. She moved to California for a time, working there against the anti-gay Briggs initiative. She then moved to the Philadelphia area and earned a Master's degree in Psychology in 1979. After 1982, Yeskel was a leader of the Seneca Women's Peace Encampment at the same time she began working on her Ed.D. in Organizational Development at UMass Amherst, completing her degree in 1991. Armed with the research she did for her dissertation, she convinced the UMass administration that the University did not adequately address the needs of its GLBTQ students. The University then responded by opening what would soon be known as the Stonewall Center with Yeskel as its director, a position she would hold for the next 14 years.

During the 1990s, she was also part of the Diversity Works Project which ran workshops in area high schools aimed at fighting homophobia, sexism, racism, and classism. In 1995, Yeskel and Chuck Collins formed United for a Fair Economy and together the two co-authored "Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity." In 2004, she joined fellow activist Jenny Ladd in founding Class Action which, according to their Web site, is "a non-profit organization in order to more effectively raise consciousness about the taboo topic of class and to address classism, both locally and nationally" ( ). That same year, Yeskel married her partner of many years, Felicia Mednick, with their then-five year old daughter, Shira, in attendance. After a two year battle, she died of cholangiocarcinoma at the age of 57. According to her obituary, Yeskel "honored her working- class roots throughout her life. She touched thousands of lives, enlightening, inspiring and supporting" ( Daily Northampton Gazette, 1/15/11).

From the guide to the Felice Yeskel Papers MS 695., 1953-2010, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Felice Yeskel Papers MS 695., 1953-2010 Sophia Smith Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Class Action (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith Diversity Works corporateBody
associatedWith Seneca Women's Peace Encampment corporateBody
associatedWith Stonewall Center (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) corporateBody
associatedWith United for a Fair Economy corporateBody
associatedWith University of Massachusetts (Amherst, Mass.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Amherst (Mass.)
Gay college students
Gay rights
Jewish women
Lesbian activists
Peace movements
Women in community organization
Working class women




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SNAC ID: 42094291