Meet Our Newest Honorary Member: Dr. Lilia Fernández

Born and raised in Chicago, Dr. Lilia Fernández was the first in her family to graduate from high school and attend college. She obtained a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, a Master’s degree in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego.

Currently an Associate Professor in the Department of History in Ohio State University,  Fernández is also affiliated with the Latino/a Studies Program, the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, and the Comparative Studies Department.  

20160712_201225Dr. Fernández’s research interests include U.S. Latino history, immigration, race and identity, urban renewal and gentrification, women’s history, urban education and many others. She has published over two dozen articles and essays , and has given nearly 100 presentations on her work throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, including at the 25th Annual Chicago Humanities Festival, the Latino Midwest Symposium, the COMPAS Conference on Immigration, the Beyond the Barrio Symposium, the Urban History Association and many more.

At Ohio State University, Dr. Fernández serves as a graduate advisor and undergraduate mentor, and has also served on nearly twenty committees and working groups such as the Latino/a Studies Advisory Committee, the Diversity Committee, the Faculty of Color Caucus and the University Senate. “Dr. Lilia Fernandez is one of the most hardworking women I have ever known, both in the academic setting as well as the professional setting. At her core, Lilia represents all of the qualities that Gamma Phi Omega women symbolize,” states Lissette Flores, biological sister of Dr. Lilia Fernández and sister of Gamma Phi Omega.

Dr. Fernández’s groundbreaking book Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago was released in 2012 and is the first history to examine the migration of these two ethnic groups to Chicago. In her work, she discusses the social and economic changes that took place in the urban north in the mid-20th century, such as declining industrial employment, massive urban renewal projects and how Mexicans and Puerto Ricans navigated these dynamics to claim their own geographic and racial space in the city. In January 2013,  Dr. Fernández was featured on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight nightly news program. In a little over a year, the hardcover edition of Brown in the Windy City sold out, leading to its release in paperback in July 2014.

Dr. Fernandez is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including the Ford Foundation pre-doctoral, dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships as well as The Ohio State University’s 2011 Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. In March of 2015, she was honored as one of Hispanic Lifestyle’s Latinas of Influence for her contributions to the Latino community.

“It is an honor to call Dr. Fernandez a sister of Gamma Phi Omega. Her accomplishments are remarkable and motivating to the rest of our members as well as others in the community we serve,” states Irma Amparo Ortiz, National President.

We are inspired by her accomplishments and her dedication to the advancement of the Latinx community. We welcome Dr. Lilia Fernández as an Honorary Member of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc.




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