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Dora has been speaking professionally for over 30 years:

In venues as varied as professional and academic conferences, justice and outreach programs, men’s and women’s prisons, political rallies and community events, colleges, universities and high schools, churches and shelters, as well as television and radio programs, among others. As a dynamic and engaged speaker, Dora often incorporates poetry and performance into her public address and interactions with audiences, and often explores the intersections between personal empowerment and civic engagement, the personal voice in the public realm as an agent of social and political change, and the Arts with Activism efforts. Combining her education, academic teaching experience, extensive activism efforts addressing the intersectionality of systemic oppression, original poetry and performance with her own personal life experience, Dora shows how the personal is political, and how it can be profoundly powerful when given the opportunity to be empowered, articulated and engaged.

Dora as Keynote Speaker for the opening event of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the Centre County Courthouse, in Centre County, Pennsylvania. This is the courthouse where Dora took her abuser to court many years ago, and the same courthouse where former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted the day before Dora’s image replaced his in the Inspiration Mural at Penn State in honor of her activism supporting survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
October 2018, Centre County Courthouse, Centre County, PA


  • Activism, Social Justice and Restorative Justice
  • The Intersections between The Arts And Activism
  • Community Development and Civic Engagement
  • The Personal Voice in the Public Realm as an Agent of Social and Political Change
  • Organizational Communication and Conflict Management
  • Sexual Harassment, Gender and Diversity Issues
  • Title VII of The Civil Rights Act
  • Leadership Development and Executive Communication Coaching
  • Individual and Group Presentation Skills, Public Speaking and Performing
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Healing, Empowerment and Spirituality
  • Creativity and Creative Recovery
  • Writing, including Poetry, Prose, Fiction And Memoir


“I argue that the sharing of our private experiences as active civic engagement is not only a right but a responsibility in the ongoing development of the social and political infrastructure of our communities and country as a whole, as the United States Bill of Rights outlines. Look at the ME, TOO movement, which began with women sharing only those words:  “ME, TOO.” Within 72 hours, the movement went global with more women joining the confrontation of the systemic factors that kept them silent and of men like Harvey Weinstein who maintained positions of protected power, up until that watershed moment that revealed them, their abuse of power, and their violence, sometimes that had gone on for decades. Within a year, 240 men in positions of profound power, who had used threats and violence to silence those women, were fired, dethroned, charged with felonies, and culturally ousted. The power of ONE VOICE sharing personal experience in the public realm or on a public platform can start a revolution. We see examples of this progression at every turn now:  ME, TOO, Time’s Up, Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter, the removal and desecration of statues symbolizing historic trauma in public places, the Arab Spring, Human Trafficking, the AIDS pandemic, on and on and on.

People are in need of protection from systemic oppression but the systems can’t protect them so a bystander in the street films an incidence of questionable or blatant brutality by a member of law enforcement, and that video goes viral, creating ongoing, nationwide protests, as the filming of George Floyd’s death/murder beneath the knee of Police Officer Derek Chauvin created, spurring ongoing demands for the address of previously unchecked police brutality. People are in need of food, but the systems can’t catch them, so we develop community-run food pantries to catch them. People are in need of housing in the face of homelessness, but the systems can’t save their homes, so community members come together to catch the members most vulnerable to homelessness, either by helping them save their homes or by supporting community-based homeless shelters that will catch them when the systems don’t.

The personal voice in the public realm IS political. And, it is profoundly powerful.”   –  Dora McQuaid


  • The Defense Research Institute: The Voice of The United States Defense Bar
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Subcommittee Investigation on Judicial Race and Gender Bias
  • The Pennsylvania Commission On Crime and Delinquency
  • The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • The Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Impact of Violence Rehabilitation Programs in Medium- and Maximum-Security prisons for men and women in Pennsylvania, including the Houtzdale, Rockview and Muncy facilities
  • The National Defense Logistics Agency
  • The Barbara J. Hart Justice Center
  • Penn State, Southern Methodist University, Allegheny College, among other colleges and universities
  • The Housing Authority of Covington, Kentucky
  • Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness
  • The Society of The Muse of The Southwest (SOMOS)
  • A wide array of non-profit, outreach services and healthcare programs, including community-based programs, women’s shelters, churches and spiritually-based groups, youth mentorship and development and language and poetry festivals.


  • The National Federation of State Poetry Societies Annual National Convention
  • Association of Workers’ Compensation Professionals’ Claims Management Annual National Conference
  • The Florida State Worker’s Compensation Institute Educational Conference
  • The Florida Bar
  • The Barbara J. Hart Justice Center Annual Conference


  • The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual National Conference
  • Performance Studies International
  • International Poetry and Sexuality Conference, Stirling University, Scotland
  • The Annual National Communication Association Conference
  • The Annual Eastern Communication Annual Conference
  • The Annual Penn State Women’s Studies Graduate Organization Annual Conference


  • Featured Speaker, The 40th Ruby Anniversary Celebration of Crisis Center North, Pittsburgh, PA (2018). First public performance of original, commissioned poem, Sanctuary, commemorating Crisis Center North’s 40thAnniversary, with a speech honoring the Center’s national impact.
  • Keynote Speaker, There is Always Hope for the Domestic Violence Leaves An Empty Place At The Table, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Centre County, PA Courthouse (2018). Live television broadcast statewide. Cosponsored by the Centre County District Attorney’s Office and Centre Safe. Full video of DORA’S KEYNOTE SPEECH: THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.
  • Keynote Speaker, Personal and Community Responses to Sexual and Domestic Violence, with Michael Pilato, creator of Inspirations Mural, in front of Dora’s image where it replaced that of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky in the Inspirations Mural, State College, PA (2015). Sponsored by the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Michael Pilato, Hotel State College, Student Book Store and Peaceful Hearts Foundation.
  • Featured Speaker, Domestic Violence And Empowerment: Be The Change Our World Needs addressing student activism and empowerment, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA (2015). Sponsored by the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Penn State University’s Office of Student Conduct, Residence Life and the University Park Undergraduate Association.
  • Keynote Speaker, An Evening with Dora E. McQuaid: Poet. Activist. Speaker. Teacher. The 2015 Annual Celebration of Crisis Center North, in honor of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Pittsburgh, PA (2015). Sole corporate sponsorship by Verizon’s Hopeline.
  • Featured Speaker, The Intersections of Art and Activism, Southern Methodist University 2014 Colloquium Series, Taos, NM (2014).
  • Opening Keynote Speaker: Why Here, Why Now? and Panelist for the National Seminar on Sexual Torts offered by the Defense Research Institute (DRI) : The Voice of the Defense Bar, San Diego, CA (2013).
  • Opening Speaker, 2012 National Convention of The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Albuquerque, NM (2012). Facilitated original workshop The Alchemical Heart: Writing Into The Sacred and explored the connections between poetry, creativity and spirituality.
  • Keynote Speaker, Religious Resources and Roadblocks to Ending Violence Against Women, The Barbara J. Hart Justice Center and The Women’s Resource Center of Scranton, PA (2006).
  • Featured Speaker, Women’s Studies Graduate Organization Annual Conference, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA (2006).
  • The Impact of Violence Programs in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institutions for Men, Maximum Security at Rockview and Medium Security at Houtzdale, PA (2000 – 2005). Addressed domestic and sexual violence by performing original poetry pertaining to survivorship and healing.
  • Featured Speaker, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Harrisburg, PA (2004).
  • Featured Speaker, The 10th Anniversary Celebration of The Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence Conference, Wilmington, DE (2004).
  • Featured on Take Note with Patty Satalia, PBS Television Program, WPSX-TV, PA (2003, 2004).
  • Featured Speaker, Pennsylvania Commission On Crime And Delinquency Annual Statewide Pathways Conference, Penn State University, University Park Campus, PA (2003).
    • Acceptance Speech: Fifth Annual PA Governor’s Pathfinder Award for Survivor/Activist.
    • One Woman’s Voice film premiere of Kate Bogle’s documentary short film about Dora’s combined roles as poet, activist, teacher and survivor of domestic and sexual violence.
    • From Survivorship to Leadership. Integrated speech and original poetry performance.
  • Presenter, The 94th Annual Eastern Communication Association Conference, Washington, D.C. (2003).
    • The Intersections of Domestic/Partnership Violence and The Public Health.
    • Civic Engagement on Campus: Building a Center for the Public Good.
  • Keynote Speaker, The Chester County Domestic Violence Service Center, Inc., 25th Anniversary Celebration, Kennett Square, PA (2002).
  • Featured Speaker, The Batterer’s Intervention Rehabilitation Program, Centre County, PA (2002).
  • Evening Of Courage honoring survivors of violence, State College, PA (2000 – 2002). Served as Events Producer and Host, as Executive Director of The Women of Courage Survivor’s Council. In honor of survivors of violence and the programs and services designed to support them for April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
  • Featured Speaker, The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Investigative Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in The Judicial System, Public Hearings, State College, PA (2001). By invitation of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee, Dora presented public testimony pertaining to racial, gender, class, victim and firearm bias in judicial management of domestic violence court proceedings in Centre County, PA, as Director of The Women of Courage of Centre County, resulting in changes in judge management of Protection From Abuse (PFA) court proceedings.
  • Featured Speaker, The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence 25th Anniversary Commemorative Luncheon, Harrisburg, PA (2001). Speech and performance of Around This Table, the poem Dora was commissioned to write to honor the 25th Anniversary of the Coalition.
  • Keynote Speaker, The Association of Workers’ Compensation Professionals’ Claims Management National Annual Conferences, FL (1999 – 2001).

To see Dora’s SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS since 2000, please see the

Dora as Keynote Speaker for the One Billion Rising on Valentine’s Day 2014. I wore pink for the second year in a row because it is my mother’s favorite color and I wanted to honor her while I was speaking at the event, as she is a survivor, too. I spoke even though I’d just had hip surgery, with Fatima and Leslie on either side of me, because I refused to miss One Billion women rising to dance together on Valentine’s Day in a joyful declaration of ending the violence that far too many of us have known.
Taos, New Mexico


Audio and video of a few of Dora’s past speeches are available on the PERFORMANCES Page.


Dora’s unique style of professional speaking, in which she often incorporates original poetry and performance with her professional expertise and personal experiences, has been acknowledged with a number of service and leadership awards and honors. The complete listing of these acknowledgments is available at the AWARDS AND HONORS Page.


  • Wall of Honor Inductee, Unionville – Chadds Ford School District, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 2018
    Dora was chosen as one of three inductees from fifty nominations for inclusion in the Wall of Honor Program from the school district in which she attended both middle and high schools. The Wall of Honor award recognizes outstanding Unionville – Chadds Ford alumni for their high standards of excellence, lifetime achievements and contributions through their professional and/or personal lives, community and humanitarian service and/or a lifelong commitment to educational excellence. Dora is the only poet and the only activist in the history of the Wall of Honor Program to be awarded inclusion.
  • Dora’s image replaces that of Jerry Sandusky in the Inspirations Mural at Penn State, State College, PA, 2012Dora’s dedication to addressing the issues of sexual and domestic violence through poetry, performance and activism was honored in 2012 by her image being painted into the place previously occupied by the image of former Penn State football coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky in the Inspirations Mural by artist Michael Pilato of the Public Art Academy in State College, PA, where Penn State is located. Extensively covered by international print, television, radio and Internet media sources.
  • Remarkable Women of Taos, New Mexico, 2012
    Chosen by community members as one of the women highlighted during the 2012 yearlong celebration of women whose lives and creative spirits have influenced the Northern New Mexico community.
  • Vagina Warrior Award, 2005
    Honored by the cast of the 2005 Penn State Production of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues, for international activism to end violence against women and girls.
  • Fifth Annual Pennsylvania Governor’s Pathfinder Award, Survivor/Activist, 2003
    Governor Ed Rendell and The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency stated:  “Ms. McQuaid was awarded for her outstanding and visible contribution to and impact upon the victim services movement in Pennsylvania through her work on behalf of victims of domestic and sexual violence.”
  • Citation of Congratulations, The Pennsylvania Senate and Senator Jake Corman, 2003


To view or print a detailed OVERVIEW OF DORA’S SERVICES, including the areas of focus often addressed in her speaking efforts, past speaking highlights and clients, please



To view, download or print: DORA’S CURRICULUM VITAE HIGHLIGHTS.

Promotion poster for Dora’s Keynote Speech at the Carnegie in Pittsburgh to benefit for Crisis Center North. My gratitude to the staff of Crisis Center North, especially Executive Director Grace Coleman, for the honor of joining them and for their generous support of my efforts since 2000, and to Verizon’s Hope Line for their generous sponsorship of the event, as well as everyone who joined us for the three events I did that night.
October 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA
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