Elizabeth Thoman Commentary

Dale Ann Stieber
Occidental College Special Collections and Archives
One day after a career as an editor and producer of film and television, I observed that most people were not empowered in our media world. It is then when Liz Thoman and the CML fortuitously came into my life. Through her guidance and passion, I evolved into a librarian to engage with my fellow citizens young and old in a new conversation on our world. Liz empowered me to consider and look beyond the power structure. I am grateful for her mentorship.

Claire Kwon
Graphic Artist
I met Liz in 2005 at the Center for Media Literacy office. My tasks were designing books, posters and lesson plans for the Center. We collaborated in creating and executing a lot of teaching materials and publications (through disagreements and procedure arguments). We quickly built trust during those times and she started bringing me to different projects and workshops related to media literacy. Her ideas and beliefs certainly influenced me as professor of interactive media and design professional mentoring juniors. After she retired and still lived in Los Angeles, I would visit her.

Maureen Gault
St. Monica’s Church, Religious Ed Conf., CIMA
I didn’t know Liz during her media literacy days. I met her at St. Monica’s after my husband died suddenly and I mourned from N.Y. She was doing her photography and showed me a new perspective on life and beauty and helped me understand the changes I was going through. It was just a few years before she moved to Iowa. She cared and listened and even though she was sick she would reach out and help me. I wish I knew her in her earlier days, but I am so happy to hear every one’s perspectives of her life.

Elena Ruddy
St. Monica Church, Family Theater and Productions CIMA
I met Liz at a Religious Ed. Congress, and bought her beautiful cards which I spread to others (almost reluctantly, to part with beautiful flowers). I’m learning and appreciating more about her various projects and background. Loved her healing petals. Thank you, a it was great celebration of her life today.

Juliana Gerace
Teacher, Diocese of Orange, Writer and Speaker
I met Liz at her apartment to take some of her library materials and curate them. She had cancer, but wanted to be sure that her vast accumulation of materials was used rather than carelessly off -loaded. A friend (Elaine Liming) and I also volunteered to staff her Healing Petals booth at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. Loved her photographs and her ability to see and find beauty at any and in all circumstances.

Elaine Liming
Retired Teacher
I am still in disbelief that Liz is gone. I always called her my mentor. I enjoyed our times at Congress selling Healing Petals and just brain storming media literacy. I shall miss her, but I know she is up there helping us all.

I helped Liz at the Religious Education Congress with Healing Petals.  She watched me sell her work to the men.  Men  are hard sells but I used humor and their ability to sometimes surprise themselves.  Liz would always say, “You have ‘the gift.’ Use it to sell media literacy education to teachers.”

Nenka Gigi
University at Buffalo
Unfortunately, I did not know Liz before, but through shared stories that I heard today, I feel as though I know her better. I had no clue that my research was rooted in media literacy until I spoke with Dr. Renee Hobbs and she invited me to Liz’s memorial service. My face and heart have tingled with excitement because I realized that the change I want to see in education is a reality, that it’s not just a dream. Hearing what Liz’s work, experiences and life has done for so many people inspires me to commit my life to bringing awareness about media literacy to marginalized students. Thank you, Liz for everything.

Hal Bogotch
Liz was the first to publish my writing. Liz was always kind and patient, despite deadlines and other pressures. A person of integrity. I found her spirituality connected to what used to be known as “family values”, before the term was distorted. I’ll never forget when Liz invited Tree People to help organize a tree planting (it was a white sapote sapling) on the Media and Values office property. As a volunteer contributor to the magazine, I met another kindred soul, who  turned out to be a close lifelong friend. Liz had a way of bringing people together. Her calendars, featuring her floral photography were stunningly gorgeous. Liz lived a meaningful life.

Melinda Benedek
Fun Liz: A glass of wine, a beer, going to dinner or the theater, showing off the flowers she had planted, playing croquet in her back yard.

Lesley Farmer 
Librarianship Program Coordinator/Applied Disabilities Services Certificate Coordinator

CSU ICT Literacy Project Manager, International Assoc. of School Librarianship, 2017 conference chair
California State University, Long Beach
In this era of fake news, the need for authenticity is more important than ever. I think that God worked through Sister Liz authentically to enable the rest of us to empower our youth to recognize and model authenticity in media.

Laura Trotta Valneti
Media Scope
Remembering Liz’s dazzling smile and intellectual passion.
Thank you!

Denise Aubuchon
I was so sorry to hear about Elizabeth, as I always respected the work she accomplished. I would be honored to attend, but it is difficult for me to travel from Santa Barbara, but I will be thinking of her. I am so glad that you are continuing the work of CML – very important now more than ever.

Kathleen Tyner
Associate Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
University of Texas, Austin

Yes, Liz Thoman was a force and she lived a good productive life. I hope that she passed peacefully, I am very sorry that I will not be able to attend her memorial.

Sister Mary Rehmann
I miss you Liz, but I am so happy we got to celebrate your birthday together last June 18th with dinner followed by a play and an overnight in Des Moines. You were so happy with the conference on Parkinson’s disease that you attended and we even stopped at the Hoover Library on our way home. I remember you when I wear the purple glass earrings that you gave me when you visited me in West Virginia years ago. I took you on my “West Virginia Tour” that included this wonderful art consignment shop in Davis. I will soon share your photography skill with a grandnephew who will be married in Texas. I am giving Chase and Taylor one of your framed pictures, of a single Christmas cactus flower, a favorite bloom of mine. So, these beautiful things make me think of you, now at peace with your mom and dad, I look forward to your taking me on the tour of heaven when we are together again.

Susan Assad
CML Felton Media Literacy Scholar
What a beautiful tribute to Liz, I am so honored to have known her.

Cynthia Walker
Associate Professor, St. Peter University
I am very sad to hear about her passing. She was such a good person; I still have one of her framed photos of a lily that she gave me.

Peter Worth
Stanford Design School, School Retool.
Although I wouldn’t say I knew Liz well personally, the work that she and did with CML to help spread media literacy education was so impactful to me as a young teacher. When I reached out to Liz for guidance, she was generous with her wisdom and treated me with respect of a peer, although I was certainly far from it. She welcomed me into the CML family. One of my favorite memories of Liz has nothing to do with media literacy, it was at the NAMLE conference in Detroit. We got to talking about Liz growing up in Nashville. She told me about how as a girl she lived across the street from the Everly brothers, and at slumber parties a big topic of conversation was whether to run over or not and knock on Don and Phil’s door. I’m not sure if they ever did, but a media literacy idol was brought down to earth.

Arleta Quesada
Thanks for forwarding the invitation to honor a wonderful woman, who inspired many in the field of media literacy education.

Mary Joan Thomsen
I am sorry to hear about Elizabeth’s passing. She was great person, very caring and smart, I will not be able to attend, but I will be thinking of her.

Jack Byrne
NEAR Community Radio
Dublin, Ireland
With my deepest condolences to Elizabeth’s family and friends from the media literacy colleagues in Ireland. I recall the excitement of first encountering Elizabeth’s “Empowerment Spiral” and the possibilities for learning it presented.

Suzanne Gates
I am so sorry to learn of Sister Liz Thoman’s passing. I will not be able to attend, but I am sure the room will be filled with her energy and life. While I only met her a few times, she influenced me professionally to tackle challenges with determination and integrity and to incorporate media literacy in whatever I do. She remains an inspiration.  I will miss knowing that she is out there fighting the good fight for our kids and country, but I am comforted to know that she spread that dedication to so many who will continue her work.

Dain Olsen
High School Media Arts Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District
Leader, Media Arts Coalition
Elizabeth was an early influence for me. Just after I started teaching in LAUSD, I had an inspiration to include media literacy in my film instruction and spent a few days of my summer vacation at the Center with Elizabeth, just browsing the materials and asking questions.

Art Silverblatt
Professor, Webster University (retired)
Eizabeth Thoman was a visionary who understood the importance of Media Literacy as a critical thinking skill. As an early proponent of media literacy, Elizabeth Thoman played a definitive role in the history of this discipline, bringing in a group of media literacy scholars and teachers into the field. To illustrate, I spent the summer of 1992 attempting to peddle my manuscript, Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages, without success. One publisher had inquired if there were other U.S. media literacy books on the market. After I replied, “No,” he responded, “That’s too bad”, concluding that there was no readymade market for the textbook. (This was a rather myopic perspective, to be sure.) Another publisher rejected the manuscript on the basis that is was “not Cultural Studies enough.”

I responded that, while Cultural Context was a significant piece of book, it certainly was not intended to be a Cultural Studies text. This explanation failed to influence the gentleman. One evening, I was outside playing with my four-year-old, when I was called to the phone. A voice on the other end began with a no-nonsense declaration: “I’m looking over your manuscript and am impressed.” It was Liz. How Liz came across the materials, I’ll never know, but she proceeded to critique the material and suggest an editor, Peter Coveney, who adopted the text and helped me to complete the final version.

Thinking of Liz, I am reminded of Shakespeare’s line: “She will make the face of the heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.” Goodnight, Liz.

Marilyn Cohen
NW Center for Excellence in Media Literacy
I am very sorry about Liz, she was truly a pioneer in the field of media literacy for the U.S.. We will all miss her. She was an influence on all of us.

Lynda Bergsma
Assistant Professor, Arizona Center for Rural Health (retired)
I’ve been thinking about Liz a lot lately and how much I cherished her as a friend and colleague. Her spirit and work ethic, especially when it came to spreading the gospel of media literacy education, was daunting and we are all forever in debt to the lady that I called “the Grandmother of media literacy.” She was an incredible media literacy mentor in myriad large and small ways, and she left us a great legacy on which to build. I was especially honored to be on her email list of friends that she updated regularly through her battle with cancer. What an elegant and uplifting writer she was. She set an incredible example of grace under the pressure of ill health and was my model and mentor in this important way too.

Rick Vess
Director, Teacher’s Discovery
I am very sad to hear about Liz’s passing, she was a special person and I’m sure that those who knew her will always think of her fondly.

Chris M. Worsnop
Media Literacy Teacher and Writer (retired)
I am tremendously saddened to learn of my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Thoman’s death. I will always remember her as a stalwart in the front ranks of North American media education and of all progressive education in general.

Joe Behson
I worked closely with Liz from the early days of PME, to the founding of AMLA and then of NAMLE. She was a true inspiration to all she met. She was quiet but unyielding force that brought media literacy to untold numbers of children and adults. She is greatly missed, but will never be forgotten.

Sara Tam
Medios Claros
Lima, Peru
Elizabeth will be in my prayers, what a wonderful mission!

Jerrilyn Jacobs
Teacher, Taft High School
Liz was one of the giants upon whose shoulders media literacy stood.

Betty Hatch
It is very sad to learn that Elizabeth has passed. The world has lost a role model, leader and special friend.

Gary Marx
Center for Public Outreach
Elizabeth Thoman was a wonderful combination of professionalism and commitment to a cause that is essential to our democracy. She enriched us all with her friendship and tenacity.

Ira Gorelick
I was privileged to have been friends with Liz when professor Richard Byrne challenged her to start when he told her to “turn in the first issue for credit.” She turned me on to 21st Century Education at a dinner in Atlanta, which has had profound positive impact in my life. I’ve been an active promoter of Media Literacy from those early days at Annenberg. My mother, daughter, and wife all had the opportunity to become friends with Liz and that friendship was a real positive in our lives.

Andrea Tompkins
Elizabeth Thoman has left an indelible mark in our world, from her strength of character and faith to decades of groundbreaking work in media literacy and evolving into the beauty captured by her artistic photography. She will be missed, but never forgotten. I will always think of her pioneering efforts as media and digital literacies evolve here in the United States and throughout the world. Thank you, Liz, for all that you given us.

Karen Ambrosh, Marieli Rowe
National Telemedia Council
All of us at National Telemedia Council wish to express our sympathy on the passing of Sr. Liz Thoman and to celebrate her life as a dedicated and passionate promoter in the field of media literacy. As a part of an idea that was begun by pioneering educators in the early days of radio and amplified evermore rapidly through the age of television, cable, into today’s cyberworld of instant, personal, yet global media, hers was a talent for advocating and expanding the voice for media literacy education. Always with charm, a winning smile and an unrelenting straightforwardness, she was personally dedicated to this mission, so clearly needed in today’s world.

Jim Ficklin
She was truly a doer and inspiration, she will surely be missed.

Barbara Biggins
Australian Council on Children and the Media
Greetings from South Australia, I was saddened to hear about Sr Elizabeth Thoman’s passing. I found her work very useful in the 80’s, as I helped to develop the role of Australia’s national advocacy and information organization, the Australian Council for Children’s Films and Television. I corresponded with Elizabeth as I prepared to visit the United States and Canada in 1989 on a 3-month church fellowship study the production and regulation of children’s television in North America. She kindly arranged to meet me on arrival at LAX and arranged a welcome, and a most interesting lunch  that I had with her and co-workers. She was a gracious and helpful woman.

Howard Rosenberg
Television Critic, Los Angeles Times (retired)
I am disappointed because I will not be able to join to celebrate Liz, who intersected my career in meaningful ways. I’m thinking of her, though and one of her “healing petals” a white cala-lily, which hangs in our kitchen as a constant reminder.

Alan M. Levitt
National Office of Drug Prevention (retired)
Elizabeth Thoman influenced my career in drug prevention: Even though my education and entire career had focused on communications, the more I learned, the more meetings and conferences I attended, the stronger I felt that media literacy should be a component of basic youth education, especially in substance abuse prevention programs. Visiting the Center of Media Literacy in Los Angeles was like being a kid in a candy store because the shelves held a vast array of materials that had been created for various issues.