Auburn University alumna Kyes Stevens has been recognized as one of this year's "Women Who Shape the State," a program created by AL.com and Birmingham Magazine.
Stevens is a poet and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, part of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn.
She founded the project in 2002 as a way of sharing the arts and humanities with individuals in Alabama Department of Corrections' facilities. Over the years the project curriculum has expanded to include not-for-credit higher education course offerings in science, hunger studies, history and engineering in 10 of Alabama's 18 prisons.
Stevens graduated from Auburn with a bachelor's degree in English and went on to earn a master's in women's history and a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She was inspired to start the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project after teaching poetry at Talladega Federal Prison.
More than 100 women were nominated as "Women Who Shape the State" for changing their neighborhoods, cities and Alabama for the better. The Birmingham-based program, Women Who Make a Difference, started in 2013 and expanded last year to honor women throughout Alabama.
Other women on the list include Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center; Elizabeth Beierle, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Tara M. Bryant, chief medical officer at Viva Health; Virginia Caples, the first female president at Alabama A&M University; Allison Black Cornelius, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society; and Tricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo's Tea Company.