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Dr. Judith Dushku is best known–in some circles, at least–for being a professor of government at Suffolk University in Boston. She also spent time as the dean of their satellite campus in Senegal, where she became involved with various African relief charities, a job which continues even now that she’s back on U.S. soil. You’d probably know her best, though, as the mom of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Tru Calling” star Eliza Dushku.

She’s also an outspoken Mormon feminist who was profiled in last weekend’s Boston Globe.

Dr. Dushku is a founder of Exponent II, an online women’s Mormon collective. The project’s first inception was in the 1970s, when a group of LDS (Latter-day Saint) women from all over the spectrum–including Dushku–started having informal chats about their faith and their feminism. During the 1990s, several women were excommunicated from the church for expressing feminist beliefs that some considered to be opposing official doctrine. At that point, says Dushku, their feminist collective also became a support group.

One of Exponent II’s major topics, according to the Globe, is the lack of women in Church leadership roles. Dushku, who gives speeches on subjects like “How Mormon Hymns Saved the Gospel from the Mormon Church.” She believes that these hymns contain messages of peace, unity, and helping others. Clearly, these principles inspired and informed her activism. It’s also pretty clear who trained Eliza to be such a strong woman.

Speaking of Eliza, the actress smokes cigarettes, drinks caffeine, and engages in other habits that go against her religious upbringing. Although she no longer considers herself a Mormon, her choice of roles don’t go over easily with her family, particularly her grandmother, who once personally called Michael Ovitz to complain about a sex scene Eliza did on “Buffy.”

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