Alene Moris Women’s Center


The Vision of the Women’s Center is to be a vital place where women and men collaborate to build a culture of gender equity campus-wide, locally, and globally.


The UW Alene Moris Women’s Center is a catalyst for change. We disrupt cycles of oppression and break down gender-based barriers through transformational education programs, leadership development, and advocacy for girls, women, and people of all gender identities. We believe women’s rights are human rights.

Value Statement

A Powerful Network Through its vast and diverse network of alumnae, volunteers, and supporters, the Women’s Center provides access to resources and opportunities that promote gender equity and amplify women’s voices in addressing issues that impact them.

A Diverse Community The Women’s Center is a safe space for all individuals to flourish. The center emphasizes supporting girls and women who are first-generation to higher education, returning or non-traditional students, and aspiring leaders on their academic and career paths.

A Transformational Model Women’s Center programs are globally recognized for their success and serve as a model for other organizations, networks and individuals building towards a more just and equitable society.

The History of the Women’s Center

Ancient Order of United Workmen members, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909 - Frank H. Nowell, 1864-195

Ancient Order of United Workmen members, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909 – Frank H. Nowell, 1864-195

The Women’s Center is housed in historic Cunningham Hall, the first building built for women in Washington in 1909.

Since its inception 100 years ago, the Women’s Center has served the community in a multitude of way–including acting as meeting place for the suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote in our State.
These meetings culminated in Washington being the fifth state to award women the right to vote in 1910.

The Women’s Center at Cunningham Hall continues to serve the women and girls on campus and in the community.

Imogen Cunningham

The black and white photo of Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham

Cunningham Hall was named for Imogen Cunningham, an inspiring woman who graduated from The University of Washington in 1907. Although she majored in Chemistry while attending UW, she became one of the first professional female photographers. To help pay for her education while in college, she photographed plants for the botany department. This photo job and her scientific background helped Imogen combine unique elements to create memorable contemporary images, with her most famous photos including botanicals and nudes. The University houses four of her images, and these can be found on the 6th floor of the Allen Center.

Learn more about Imogen Cunningham’s life and photographic works

Alene Moris

Alene H. Moris died August 31, 2019 at the age of 91. She was born to Henry Halvorson and Jona Jonasson on March 28, 1928 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

A photo of Alene H. Moris speaking at a conference

She graduated from St. Olaf College, Minnesota, with a B.A. in Music, where she met and, in 1949, married Walter J. Moris.

Together, they served Lutheran parishes in Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana before she and her husband were sent to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia on a 4 year mission.

After teaching for four years at Lok Yuk Senior Secondary School, in Kota Kinabalu, Alene returned with her family to the U.S., where she earned her master’s degree in Educational Counseling at Northern Illinois University.

In 1970, Alene became the assistant director of Continuing Education for Women at the University of Washington.

In 1972, Alene left the University of Washington, and co-founded the Individual Development Center, a pioneer career counseling center on Capitol Hill in Seattle which she directed for 14 years. Alene’s lifework was dedicated to helping women become leaders in society. For 38 years she counseled individuals, taught seminars and consulted with organizations nationally on issues pertaining to women in leadership in the workplace. Alene was also the keynote speaker at a wide variety of business, professional and political conferences. Well known for her sense of humor in her presentations, her passion was to bring men and women into full partnership for a more just and humane society.

In addition to authoring two books, Alene wrote many career-oriented materials and was a columnist for the National Association of Bank Women Journal for 8 years. She was given multiple awards and honors for her contributions, including an honorary doctorate from Seattle University in 1990, distinguished alumna awards by both her college and her graduate university as well as the 1996 Seattle Community Catalyst Lifetime Award from Mothers Against Violence in America.

In 2004, the University of Washington Women’s Center established an endowment fund in her honor. Upon retiring in 2010, she moved to Horizon House, a senior community in Seattle, where she continued her work, presenting seminars for both men and women. Her husband, Walter Moris, Director of the Lutheran Center on Aging in Seattle, passed in 1996.

She is survived by her children Karin, Kristina, Erik and Karl, 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Contributions may be made to the Alene Moris Endowment Fund to continue her legacy at the Women’s Center.

Cunningham Hall in Seattle In 1909

Cunningham Hall in Seattle

Cunningham Hall in Seattle

In 1909, the Woman’s Building on the University of Washington campus opened as part of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition to showcase women’s art and to provide hospitality to visiting women. It then served as a center for campus and community women until 1916, when it was put to other use. 

Read more here about the history of Cunningham Hall

Note on the use and spelling of “women”

Here at the Women’s Center, we use the gendered term “woman” & “women” to describe feminized populations for the sake of contemporary political consistency across our web presence. We want to acknowledge that there have been movements across time that hold significant political interjections into the use of words like ‘woman’ & ‘women’ by oppressed people around the world. Those spellings include “womyn,” “womxn,” “womban,” “wimmin,” “femme,” “womyn-born-womyn,” “womxn-of-color,” “trans-womxn” and other “womxn-identified” groups, etc. Feel free to access a few of those histories in the resources below:

Key, A. (2017). Woman, womyn, womxn: Students learn about intersectionality in womanhood. The Standard.

Shackelford, A. (2017). Why I’m Non-Binary But Don’t Use They/Them: I am not gender neutral. I am not neutral in anything I do. HuffPost.

Vasquez, T., & Leigh, M. (2016). It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Trans Women. Bitch Media.

Wade, L. (2011). Loretta Ross on the Phrase “Women of Color”—Sociological Images. The Society Pages.

Bey, M. (2021, March 27). On them goon rules: Fugitive essays on radical black feminism (w/ Marquis Bey). The American Assembly. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from