In Memory: Amy Denissen, PSA Secretary 2013-2016

Amy D pic


Amy Denissen, 1973-2016, and
PSA Secretary 2013-2016

Amy passed away on May 1, 2016.  We will miss and remember Amy’s smile and kindness as well as her dedication to PSA and to being a teacher of sociology, sociological researcher and scholar, and public sociologist.

As her family says, “the world lost a beautiful daughter, sister, teacher and friend, Amy Denissen.  Amy passed away after a six year journey with ovarian cancer. Amy was full of gusto, passion, compassion and kindness. A committed teacher who cared deeply for her students, Amy was a public sociologist whose research and writing was focused on making this world a better and more just place. A fierce activist for social justice, Amy celebrated May Day (International Workers Day) with us from her place in heaven. Striking a pose at two years old, Amy never stopped dancing. Dance was a lifelong passion, an art, a celebration, and most importantly – a community. One she cared deeply for. Amy will continue to dance in our hearts….”

The family has created a website,, to collect donations for expenses related to Amy’s green burial and an afterschool swing dance program, the Cleveland Junior Jitterbugs, to increase opportunities for youth to have access.  The family says, “Amy selected this charity while in hospice because it brings together two passions: dance and social justice.  Amy has danced since she was a little girl.  Dance built confidence, developed team work, and fostered a commitment to excellence in Amy’s life while offering an outlet for expression and fostering community.  Amy also cared deeply about closing equity and opportunity gaps to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to opportunities that support their passion while having the power to change lives.”

Amy’s colleagues at California State University Northridge will be hosting a memorial service for her in the fall 2016 semester, with details forthcoming.  More information can be found on their website, About Amy they say:  Amy began her academic career in her home state of Wisconsin earning her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Sociology from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA. Amy joined the Sociology faculty at CSUN in 2006 and was an active member of the CSUN community. She served on many university committees and as a member of the University Faculty Senate. As a public sociologist, Amy did research in the areas of Gender, Sexuality, Work, Labor, and Organizations. Her research on women in the building trades (electricians, surveyors, carpenters, and metal workers) highlighted the ongoing discrimination that women face in this male dominated field. Amy’s research appeared in both academic journals such as Gender and Society and The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography and reports published by the City of Los Angles Labor Committee on Construction Opportunity.

An advocate for labor and social justice issues, Amy was a CFA activist, the Organizing and Membership Chair (2011-12) and a member of the California Faculty Association’s Executive Board on our campus. In 2011 she carried out a study for the UCLA Civil Rights Project on the impact the budget crisis had on faculty and students at CSUN. Amy was a beloved teacher and mentor who worked closely with undergraduate students in the Work & Society option within the sociology major. She was also very involved with the master’s degree program, serving on thesis and comprehensive exam committees and teaching courses on Feminist Theory and Qualitative Methods. Amy was an engaged colleague who could be depended on to complete any task. She strongly believed in public higher education and the opportunities it provides for a diverse student body. Her dedication and devotion to her students, colleagues, friends and the broader community will be sorely missed but not forgotten. An academic award named in her honor will be given out each year at the Sociology Department’s annual honors dinner.

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