Every year, we take time off from our research, public education, and advocacy to thank women and men who have improved our lives.
The Foremother Award recognizes women for their lifetime achievements, who expanded women’s horizons, improved our communities, and made remarkable contributions to our country. We let them know what an honor it is to follow in their formidable footsteps.
In addition to showing our appreciation for our amazing Foremothers, we also recognize Health Policy Heroes. This award honors men and women who have helped to improve the lives of adults and children nationwide by supporting health policies that help protect lives and improve medical care for us all.
Stay tuned for info on the luncheon in 2018!
To learn more about our previous Foremother and Health Policy Hero Award Luncheons, scroll down.
2017 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2016 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2015 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2014 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2013 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2012 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2011 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2010 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2009 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
2008 Foremother Awards Luncheon
2007 Foremother Awards Luncheon
2006 Foremother Awards Luncheon
2005 Foremother Awards Luncheon
2017 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
This year’s awards luncheon was held at the historic Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. We honored Maureen Bunyan and Melanne Verveer as Foremothers and health investigative journalists Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin as Health Policy Heroes. It was a huge success and a wonderful honor to be able to hear from such inspirational leaders!
We gratefully acknowledge our 2017 sponsors:
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley
2016 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
This year’s awards luncheon was held at the historic Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. We honored Judy Woodruff, Elaine Jones, and Nancy Pelosi as Foremothers and Flint, Michigan heroes LeeAnne Walters and Marc Edwards as Health Policy Heroes. It was a huge success and a wonderful honor to be able to hear from such inspirational leaders!
Judy Woodruff is one of our nation’s foremost journalists. Whether she is co-anchoring the PBS NewsHour or a presidential debate, we can always trust her to ask the right questions to inform and enlighten us. She was one of the few women serving as a White House correspondent during the Carter Administration and has been in the top ranks of journalists ever since – at CBS, NBC, PBS, and CNN. She co-founded the International Women’s Media Foundation to help mentor and encourage other female journalists to succeed worldwide. As the mother of a son with spina bifida, she has also become a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. Her work has improved the lives of millions of Americans.
Elaine Jones has dedicated her life to the Civil Rights Movement. The daughter of a Pullman porter and a schoolteacher, Jones graduated from Howard University in 1965, joined the Peace Corps, and two years later was one of 5 Black students and the only woman enrolled at the University of Virginia Law School. In 1970, she rejected a prominent Wall Street firm, to take a position at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, where she argued many discrimination cases and represented a black man on death row who had been accused of raping a white woman. The Supreme Court decision on that case abolished the death penalty in 37 states for 12 years. In the years since that early success, she has been an inspiring champion for fairness and equality as the first woman to serve as the President and Director-Counsel of NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi (invited) is the most powerful woman in Congress and our nation’s first woman Speaker of the House. She was instrumental in passing and protecting the Affordable Care Act, which gives millions of Americans access to quality, affordable health insurance for the first time. Wendell Primus, Leader Pelosi’s Senior Policy Advisor, accepted her award.
We gratefully acknowledge our 2016 sponsors:
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley
2015 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
Last year’s awards luncheon was held at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC. We honored Jodie Bernstein and Karen Mulhauser as Foremothers and Dr. Hooman Noorchashm and Dr. Amy Reed as Health Policy Heroes. It was a huge success and a wonderful honor to be able to hear from such inspirational leaders!
See our Facebook album here.
Karen Mulhauser has dedicated her life to key progressive causes, and was one of the early leaders of the modern women’s movement. She is Chair of the UN Association of the USA and has been a founding force behind many progressive nonprofit advocacy organizations, including the Women’s Information Network and Public Allies. She served as Executive Director of nonprofit groups dedicated to women’s reproductive rights and against nuclear war, and has been a leader in improving race relations and increasing voter registration. She has provided support, encouragement, and mentoring to scores of women in Washington, DC.
Our 2015 Health Policy Heroes are two physicians who have become the most visible and effective patient advocates in the country: Dr. Amy Reed and Dr. Hooman Noorchashm. Both were Harvard Medical School faculty when Amy was treated for what was assumed to be a benign uterine fibroid. The medical device used to treat her, a power morcellator, pulverized her fibroid, and with it, a hidden cancer. They subsequently learned that Amy’s metastatic uterine cancer was not a “rare complication” of the device, and are working actively to warn patients and doctors, get morcellators off the market, and find a cure for uterine cancer.
We gratefully acknowledge our 2015 sponsors:
The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Negin Noorchashm Griffith, MD, FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery
2014 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon
We had a wonderful time at our 2014 Foremothers and Health Policy Heroes Awards luncheon at the beautiful Mayflower Hotel.
To view more photos of our event, see our facebook album
Irene Pollin has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others, as a psychiatric social worker, writer advocate, and philanthropist. She is the founder and chairperson of Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation, the first organization to address the public health crisis that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. Sister to Sister has provided more than 100,000 free heart health screenings and counseling nationwide. With her late husband, Abe, the Pollins co-owned the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals, and together helped revitalize Washington, DC through philanthropy, public service, and an unwavering commitment to the community.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is one of our nation’s most beloved authors of children’s and young adult fiction, best known for her trilogy Shiloh (a 1992 Newbery Medal book about a young boy and an abused dog) and for her Alice books, about a motherless girl looking for a role model while fumbling through adolescence, with the final book highlighting her life from ages 18-60. The Alice books have been praised and criticized for their realistic portrayal of the life of a teenage girl. Naylor has written more than 135 books, many receiving awards as well as special recognition by the American Library Association and the International Reading Association, and as selections for the Junior Literary Guild.
The Honorable Louise Slaughter is a powerful and unique Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Serving her 14th term, Rep. Slaughter takes on the fights no one else will. She co-authored the historic Violence Against Women Act and is now on the forefront of fighting sexual assault in the military. As the only Member of Congress with a degree in microbiology, she has played a central role in the major health and science issues of our time, achieving landmark legislation such as federal funding for research on DES, the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical trials, and increased federal funding for breast cancer. She is the original author of the Genetic Information and Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which became law in 2008, and the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would drastically reduce the epidemic of antibiotic resistance.
Our two health policy heroes are ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, whose investigative series of articles delineating Medicare’s reimbursement for doctors prescribing massive quantities of inappropriate medications, and wasting billions on needlessly expensive drugs has resulted in Medicare broadening its powers to reduce fraud, waste abuse, and harmful prescriptions.
We gratefully acknowledge our 2014 sponsors:
The Cooper-Rothenberg Group at Morgan Stanley
Catherine Joyce at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
2013 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Hero Luncheon
It was fun and inspiriting at our 2013 Foremothers and Health Policy Heroes Awards luncheon at the elegant Cosmos Clubs.
To see more photos from the event, see our Facebook page.
- Cokie Roberts and her mother Lindy Boggs are our first mother-daughter Foremothers. Cokie is an award-winning journalist and author featured on NPR and ABC, who is considered one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. As a Congresswoman from Louisiana in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Lindy Boggs was an effective and dedicated champion for many laws advancing women’s opportunities in education and employment. In her first term she was one of only 16 women in Congress – the largest number ever up until that time (less than 3%). She later served as Ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton Administration.
- Dr. Vivian Pinn was the first director of the Office for Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health, where she served from 1991 until 2011. She broke down barriers as the only woman and only African American in her medical school class at the University of Virginia, where she graduated in 1967, and her invaluable contributions at NIH include the Women’s Health Initiative, a groundbreaking study which challenged the conventional wisdom about menopausal hormone therapy.
- Mary Hager is one of journalism’s women pioneers, having been a reporter and editor at Life Magazine in the 1960’s and at Newsweek in the 1970’s until retiring from the magazine in 2000. She brilliantly covered the major medical, environmental, scientific, and health stories of our time, including the beginning of the mysterious epidemic that became known as AIDS, tobacco company cover-ups of the risks of smoking, toxic waste at Love Canal and other Superfund sites, and FDA’s failure to test medical implants.
For the first time, our Health Policy Heroes are not individuals but instead are three nonprofit organizations that worked together to improve how health care is delivered all over the country. We will honor these key leaders of the Choosing Wisely Campaign, which worked with physicians across the U.S. to develop recommendations to improve the quality of health care while reducing unnecessary medical tests and ineffective treatments.
- Consumer Reports
- ABIM Foundation
- National Physicians Alliance
We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following sponsors of our 2013 luncheon:
The Cooper-Rothenberg Group at Morgan Stanley
Catherine Joyce at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Phyllis Wiesenfelder at Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
2012 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Hero Luncheon
One hundred and fifty distinguished guests joined us on May 11th, at the elegant Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. as we honored our three 2012 Foremothers and one Health Policy Hero. The Foremother Awards are for lifetime achievement for Washington area women whose lives have touched adults and children across the country. The Health Policy Hero award is for outstanding contributions to health policies that benefit all Americans.
Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, emceed the event.
- Joan Claybrook is a nationally respected consumer advocate whose work has saved lives and improved public policies that affect all of us. She was president of Public Citizen from 1982 until 2009, fighting for safer cars, food, and medicines as well as campaign finance reform.
- Dr. Beatrix Hamburg was the first African-American to graduate from Vassar and the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Medical School. She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of our nation’s children, as past president of the William T. Grant Foundation and as a faculty member and leader at the nation’s top medical schools.
- Alice Rivlin was the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1975-1983, and the first woman Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. She served as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and has also been credited with saving the District of Columbia from financial disaster as chair of the DC Financial Management Assistance Authority from 1998-2001.
Linda Birnbaum, Director of NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program, was honored as our 2012 Health Policy Hero for her outstanding research on the health effects of environmental pollutants and chemicals. Thanks to her leadership, NIEHS is carrying out groundbreaking research, prevention, and intervention efforts that are making our homes and communities safer across the country.
A few snapshots from the 2012 event:
2011 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Hero Luncheon
One hundred and fifty distinguished guests joined us at the elegant Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. as we honored our three 2011 Foremothers and one Health Policy Hero. The Foremother Awards are for lifetime achievement for Washington area women whose lives have touched adults and children across the country. The Health Policy Hero award is for outstanding contributions to health policies that benefit all Americans.
- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives for over 20 years and first woman to chair the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Vicki Sant, visionary philanthropist dedicated to improving the lives of adolescents, preserving the environment, and strengthening urban communities.
- Judith Viorst, best-selling author of children’s books, fiction and nonfiction books for adults, and poetry, all of which help us understand ourselves and cope with changes in our lives.
Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was honored as our 2011 Health Policy Herofor strengthening the public health focus of one of the world’s most important agencies, thereby saving lives and improving the quality of people’s lives.
A few snapshots from the 2011 event (photos by Gwen Lewis)
We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following sponsors of our 2011 luncheon:
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP
Cooley & Darling Insurance
The 2010 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Hero Luncheon
In May 2010, we recognized three pioneering women for a lifetime of achievements that have improved the lives of adults and children nationwide. The three 2010 Foremothers helped to open up a world of opportunities for women and to set a standard of excellence in everything they do – whether it is providing health care to our most vulnerable citizens, changing the way healthcare is provided in our community and our nation, or educating the public about the important issues of our time. They are powerful and inspiring role models for all of us.
We were very fortunate that Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Washington Post, joined us again this year to make introductory remarks.
- Ruth Lubic, profiled on CBS News and in the Washington Post, is a certified nurse midwife, MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient, and founder of the DC Birth Center at the DC Developing Families Center.
- Diane Rehm, host of Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show, has been namedone of the “150 Most Influential People in Washington” by Washington magazine.
- Omega Logan Silva was the first African-American awarded a clinical investigatorship in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the first woman appointed president of the Howard University Medical Alumni. She is an endocrinologist, professor emeritus of medicine at George Washington University, and is the past president of the American Medical Women’s Association of AMWA
Catherine DeAngelis, M.D., M.P.H. has been Editor-in-Chief of JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) since 2000 and is our 2010 Health Policy Hero. Her recent editorial policy insisting on independent statistical analysis of studies financed by medical product manufacturers will bring greater objectivity and accuracy to the information that doctors and patients rely on. It will save lives and improve the quality of medical care across the country.
A few snapshots from the 2010 event (photos by Gwen Lewis)
The 2009 Health Policy Heroes and Foremother Awards
The National Research Center for Women & Families celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 8, 2009, and paid tribute to inspiring Members of Congress and pioneering women who have made life-changing contributions to our lives. Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Washington Post, made welcoming remarks. To hear the honorees’ remarks, visit Youtube.com/nrc4wf.
Health Policy Heroes:
Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) a member of Congress since 1991, is one of Congress’ most effective champions to improve the health and safety of all Americans. She recently introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act to protect our nation’s food supply. A cancer survivor, she has successfully increased funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings and research.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is the Senate’s most outspoken advocate on behalf of safeguards to ensure the safety and effectiveness of all medical products. Sen. Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, which is responsible for Medicare and Medicaid. His willingness to challenge the FDA has saved the lives of adults and children by helping remove unsafe medical products from the market
Foremothers Lifetime Achievement Awards:
Nan Robertson became one of the early women reporters for The New York Times in 1955, a Washington correspondent in 1963, moving to Paris as a foreign correspondent in 1973, and then back to Washington. In 1983, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her magazine cover story of her struggle with toxic shock syndrome, one of the most widely syndicated article in Times history.
Zelda Fichandler, a premier stage producer, director, and educator, Ms. Fichandler is best known as cofounder and long-time artistic director of D.C.’s highly innovative Arena Stage. A Helen Hayes awardee, she has built Arena into one of the nation’s most popular regional theaters.
Lillian Brown was a young widow in the 1940’s, supporting her three girls by doing make-up for guests on Face the Nation, then as a TV and radio producer, university faculty member, and author, whose specialty is teaching English “as a first or second language” to help everyone from new immigrants to politicians to express themselves clearly. Now 94, she is completing her fourth book, Camera Ready, which describes her experiences with nine presidents.
Dorothy Height, a civil rights icon for decades, is best known as the chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women. Her lifetime of leadership, starting during the New Deal, made lasting contributions to the movements for equality and human rights for all people in the United States and around the world.
A special thank you for supporting The National Research Center for Women & Families 2009 Health Policy Hero and Foremother Awards:
2008 Foremother Awards Luncheon
NRC’s Annual Foremothers Awards honor five women whose lifetime achievements have made an indelible mark on the lives of women and families nationwide. The 2008 awardees were honored at a Mother’s Day luncheon in May, held at the formerly male bastion for Washington, D.C. movers and shakers, the Cosmos Club. “The Cosmos Club is a great choice because these women broke down barriers before it was fashionable and continued to contribute to our community and our country long after they were expected to retire,” explains NRC president Diana Zuckerman.
The sold-out event was emceed by Katharine Weymouth, CEO and Publisher of the Washington Post and granddaughter of the late Katharine Graham. Ms. Weymouth paid tribute to her grandmother and traced Graham’s exceptional talent and drive to Weymouth’s great-grandmother, Agnes Meyer. Meyer dedicated her life to the cause of public education and was instrumental in establishing the Department of Health Welfare and Education. Comparing her “own personal foremothers” to the award recipients, Weymouth commented, “These women each blazed their own path that by design advanced not their own agenda, but improved lives individually and collectively… They have set the standard for the rest of us.”
Recognized were Mary Frances Berry, civil rights champion and former Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; attorney Edith Fierst, who has improved the financial security of American women through her work to strengthen Social Security and increase women’s access to pensions; Marion Ein Lewin , a Holocaust survivor who strengthened U.S. healthcare policies through a legacy of training professionals to improve health programs and policies; Congresswoman Connie Morella, a champion for women and families nationwide, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder and Honorary Chair of Special Olympics International and a key founder of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Mary Frances Berry
Dr. Zuckerman introduced the first recipient, Mary Frances Berry, as “someone who speaks the truth to power and who does everything she can to make the world a better place.” Ms. Berry, who currently teaches American Legal History at the University of Pennsylvania, reflected on how much things have changed over the years. She shared an anecdote from her time as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder, when she was the first woman in the country to head up a major research university. A male trustee from another university marveled at her position, exclaiming, “I don’t know why they hired you, a woman! When you hire a man, you get two for the price of one” he said, alluding to the role often played by a chancellor’s spouse. “With you, I don’t know what they’re getting for free.” With a chuckle, she noted that women have come a long way since that time, with female presidents and chief executives of universities all over the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Brown.
Dr. Zuckerman met foremother Edith Fierst while working on Social Security issues more than a decade ago and called her “a fantastic voice” to protect women’s pension rights and Social Security rights for all.
Edith Fierst spoke of the need to overhaul the country’s retirement system. She referred to a recent example of a widow who did not receive any retirement benefits after her husband’s death because he chose to receive a larger pension while he was alive instead of benefits for his survivor. She had no legal recourse since a witness to his signing the document verified that he understood the consequences to his spouse. Unlike most workers, he had been exempt from Social Security taxes, but since his wife had not been employed, she was not eligible for that safety net either.
Ms. Fierst explained that many pension plans require the spouse’s written consent if a worker does not choose survivor benefits. But in this case, there was no requirement. Nothing could be done for the widow, who was left with no income at all.
Ms. Fierst’s look back prompted an optimistic look forward: the need to change this situation as soon as possible. But, she pointed out that “most people on the Hill have no appetite” for fighting something like this, since workers have not supported it. In parting, Fierst made a pitch for getting behind the effort to change the rules.
Marion Ein Lewin
Marion Ein Lewin spoke of us each having a personal journey, saying there is no hard-and-fast formula for building your career, but that you just have to do your best and, when the need is there, find the courage.
She described a lesson in humility as head of the Health Policy Division at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in the 1980s. The most senior woman at AEI was former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Ms. Lewin said she admired not her politics so much as her “no-nonsense style and her effectiveness as a speaker.”
One day, in the elevator, she “took the bull by the horns” and introduced herself with her position and her admiration for Kirkpatrick’s work. “She looked at me with interest and answered, ‘Marion, I know absolutely nothing about your work, but I am a great admirer of your clothes.'”
Ms. Lewin also spoke of her years at the Institute of Medicine, heading up the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows Program. In closing, she spoke of the Holocaust, and the fact that she and her brother Steven are thought to be the youngest twins to survive. “You don’t go through that without living every day thankful to be alive and recognizing the countless innocents who perished,” she said, adding that her “experience as a young girl and the inspiration of my amazing parents led me to a career that was in large part devoted to helping others.”
In introducing former Congresswoman Connie Morella, Dr. Zuckerman reminded the audience that she made so many legislative efforts for women and families into bipartisan efforts. “The beauty of it was that she brought so many Republican women and men with her. And she is sorely missed.”
Connie Morella explained that “the women’s movement put the movement into me” back in the 70s. She was on the first Montgomery County Commission for Women, testifying on behalf of women for health, housing, employment and education. “If I really want to do more,” she reasoned, “I’ll have to be on the other side of the table.”
Elected to state legislature, she was on her way to Annapolis when she was stopped by an officer for speeding. The officer saw her plate, Maryland House of Delegates, District 16. He walked back and said, “I’m not going to give you a ticket this time…. It’s not because of you; it’s because of your husband the delegate.”
That was also the time of sexually segregated want ads, but when she got to Congress she saw that, on matters of health, “they threw us all together.” And that “was the impetus for the work we did to establish the Office of Research for Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health.”
Domestic violence was another area for trailblazing legislation. The Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized and has made a difference in shedding light on the problem and addressing it. “So you see,” she concluded, “When we band together, we can indeed make a difference.”
Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Tim Shriver, head of the Special Olympics, spoke on behalf of his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. As someone who has a disabled brother, Dr. Zuckerman expressed regret at not being able to thank Ms. Shriver in person for what her organization has done for families across the country.
“Everyone should have a chance to have an audience like this where they can speak about their mother,” said Shriver. He explained that Special Olympics is now in 180 countries, with almost 3 million athletes participating every day, including a half million in the U.S. There are almost 30,000 games each year, “every single one of them what I think of as a classroom–a classroom for tolerance, acceptance, a classroom for overcoming fear of difference, a classroom for reinvigorating the human spirit.”
His mother envisioned this, albeit not on this scale, when she invited disabled individuals from institutions to her backyard, Shriver explained. Delivered on yellow school busses, they played kickball, learned to swim and rode ponies. She thought that like any other human beings, they deserved to have fun and reclaim their dignity, and it was never really just about them-“it was about all of us,” in these encounters.
Despite all that the Special Olympics has accomplished, Shriver quoted his mother as telling him, “We have to overcome and fight harder, we have to believe that everybody can make a difference. This is a movement fueled 99 percent by volunteers. We’re in an age when people say they want to connect, they want deep bonds, they want to form the relationships and patterns of behavior that will guide their future. They want to be asked to participate…. As hope for the best for them, hope is reborn in us,” he concluded.
A special thank you for supporting The National Research Center for Women & Families 2008 Foremother Awards:
2007 Foremother Awards Luncheon
Welcome from the National Research Center for Women & Families President, Diana Zuckerman, PhD
The Foremother Awards are our way of saying “Thank you” to remarkable women who have done so much to improve our lives, and to make them so much more interesting.
All of these women are wonderful and inspiring. They have all been appreciated and recognized for their contributions. But, the Foremother Awards are special, because they celebrate a lifetime of achievement as women, and they give all of us a chance to say thank you in person.
It is so easy to lose sight of how far women have come and of the women who helped us get to where we are today. What better way than to honor and recognize these women, and let them know how much we appreciate them, how much we love working with them or admiring their accomplishments from afar, and what an honor it is to follow in their very formidable footsteps.
Today we are honoring five women whose dedication and accomplishments have improved our lives. They broke down barriers before it was fashionable and continued to contribute to our community and our country long after they were expected to retire.
We are especially pleased that several of our Foremothers from 2005 and 2006 are able to be here with us, to help us celebrate.
These awards are just a small token of how much we appreciate all our Foremothers and want to thank them for being there for us – years ago and today.
Sophie Altman is the creator and executive producer of It’s Academic, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest-running TV quiz show.
Sophie Altman graduated from Wellesley College and Yale Law School. After graduation, she worked at the Department of Justice for a few years, until marriage and a growing family led her to look for a more flexible work schedule. She then left the Justice Department to work part time for NBC’s “Meet the Press.” She later produced several successful TV programs, including “Report Card for Parents,” “NIH Reports,” and “Teen Talk.”
In 1960, the Superintendent of School for Washington, DC asked her to create a TV program that would recognize the academic achievements of local high school students. Responding to the challenge, Sophie Altman created It’s Academic, now in its 46th season.
Each year hundreds of secondary schools —public, parochial, private, suburban, rural and inner-city—participate on It’s Academic. The competition is intense. Schools come out in force to root for their teams—with banners, bands, cheerleaders, and fans who have their faces painted in school colors. The adulation normally reserved for athletic heroes is extended to the students who represent their schools on the program. (As a high school cheerleader, Sandra Bullock came to the NBC4 studio with the rest of her squad to root for her school’s It’s Academic team.)
In addition to its base in Washington, DC, It’s Academic is produced with local students in Baltimore (WJZ) and Charlottesville (WVIR). It is also produced in Phoenix (Cox 7), Pittsburgh (KDKA), and Cleveland (WEWS), under different names but with the same format. Over the years, it has been on the air in 23 other major cities.
A lot has changed since It’s Academic first went on the air in 1961. But what hasn’t changed is Sophie Altman’s commitment to the program and to its goal of getting the community to recognize the very real achievement of the bright, well-educated young people who compete on It’s Academic.
Roselyn Payne Epps
Dr. Roselyn Payne Epps is a nationally-respected physician who broke barriers for women in medicine, starting when she was one of a small minority of women to receive a medical degree (from Howard University, with honors) in 1955.
After receiving her M.D., Dr. Epps became a rotating intern at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington (later renamed Howard University Hospital). In 1956, she began a pediatric residency, and two years later became the chief resident. In 1961, she became a medical officer with the District of Columbia Department of Health, and in 1973 earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She ascended within the D.C. Department of Health, and was appointed the first Acting Commissioner of Health for the District of Columbia in 1980.
That year, Dr. Epps also became a professor of pediatrics and child health at Howard, and after completing a master’s degree in public administration and higher education, she became the chief of the Child Development Division and director of the Child Development Center at Howard. Among her accomplishments there, she directed a program that aided disabled children and their parents, and served as founding director of the High Risk Young People’s Project, which brought together several university health science departments, community organizations, and government agencies within Washington.
In 1988, she went to work for the National Cancer Institute, where she developed national and international programs. Since 1998, she has served as a consultant for the public and private sectors, and as senior program advisor at the Howard University Women’s Health Institute. Dr. Epps has written more than 90 articles for medical publications, co-edited The Women’s Complete Handbook, and was the first African-American president of several organizations, including the American Medical Women’s Association. She has been involved in numerous professional and philanthropic organizations and is the recipient of more than 60 awards. The Council of the District of Columbia declared February 14, 1981, Dr. Roselyn Payne Epps Day in Washington. She is married to Dr. Charles H. Epps, Jr., and is proud that three of their four children earned medical degrees and the fourth earned an M.B.A. She has four young grandsons.
Dr. Bernice Sandler, referred to by the New York Times as the “Godmother of Title IX,” is a Senior Scholar at the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington, D.C., where she consults with institutions and others about achieving equity for women. She is also an adjunct associate professor at Drexel University College of Medicine. She is the author of three books, has made more than 2,500 presentations, and has written more than 100 articles.
Nationally respected for her research and expertise in women’s educational equity, Dr. Sandler focused on the chilly classroom climate for girls and the policies and programs affecting women on college campuses. She also serves as an expert witness in discrimination and sexual harassment cases, and was a consultant for The Citadel when they admitted women for the first time.
Dr. Sandler previously directed the Project on the Status and Education of Women at the Association of American Colleges, and has a long list of firsts, writing the first reports on campus sexual harassment, gang rape, campus peer harassment, and the first report on how boys and girls are treated differently in the classroom. She was the first person appointed to a Congressional committee staff to work specifically on women’s issues and the first person to testify before a Congressional committee about discrimination against women in education. She played a major role in the development and passage of Title IX and other laws prohibiting sex discrimination in education.
Dr. Sandler holds a degree in counseling from the University of Maryland. She was the first Chair of the now-defunct National Advisory Council on Women’s Educational Programs, having been appointed by President Ford and reappointed by President Carter. Early in her career she worked as a research assistant, a nursery school teacher, a guitar instructor, and a secretary.
She has served on more than 30 boards and has 10 honorary doctorates and numerous other awards. In 1994, she received a Century of Women Special Achievement Award from Turner Broadcasting System. Her books include: The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women with Lisa A. Silverberg and Roberta M. Hall, and Sexual Harassment on Campus: A Guide for Administrators, Faculty and Students with Robert J. Shoop.
Helen Thomas is often called “The First Lady of the Press,” and as the former UPI White House Bureau Chief, she is a trailblazer who broke through barriers for women reporters while covering every president since John F. Kennedy. After 57 years with UPI, Helen Thomas recently joined Hearst Newspapers as a syndicated columnist.
Born in Kentucky, Ms. Thomas was raised in Detroit, where she attended public schools and later graduated from Wayne State University. She then became a “copy girl” for the now-defunct Washington Daily News. In 1943, Ms. Thomas joined UPI and the Washington press corps.
For 12 years, Ms. Thomas wrote radio news for UPI, her work day beginning at 5:30 a.m. She was promoted to cover the news of the Federal government, including the FBI and Capitol Hill.
In November 1960, Ms. Thomas began covering President-elect Kennedy. It was during this White House assignment that Ms. Thomas began closing presidential press conferences with “Thank you, Mr. President.”
In September 1971, Pat Nixon scooped Ms. Thomas by announcing her engagement to Associated Press’ retiring White House correspondent, Douglas B. Cornell, at a White House party hosted by President Nixon in honor of Cornell.
Ms. Thomas was the only female print journalist traveling with President Nixon to China on his breakthrough trip in 1972. She has the distinction of having traveled around the world several times with Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, and covered every world economic summit. The World Almanac has cited her as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in America.
Ms. Thomas has written three books. Her latest is Thanks for the Memories Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House.
Carmen Delgado Votaw
Carmen Delgado Votaw has worked on behalf of women, children, and families in the United States and internationally throughout her career. She is also a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Affairs and is a Lay Eucharistic Minister at Washington National Cathedral.
Ms. Votaw recently retired as senior vice president for public policy for the Alliance for Children and Families, a nonprofit organization that serves over 400 agencies that provide services to children and families. She previously served in public policy leadership positions for United Way of America and Girl Scouts of the USA.
Prior to 1991, Ms. Votaw was chief of staff to U.S. Member of Congress Jaime B. Fuster of Puerto Rico for six years. Her previous volunteer and staff positions include serving as vice president of Information and Services for Latin America; president of the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States; co-chair of the National Advisory Committee of Women (a presidential appointment); commissioner on the International Women’s Year Commission; federal programs specialist at the Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in Washington, D.C.; president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women; chair of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education; and chair of the Human Services Forum of the National Assembly of Health and Human Service Organizations. She also served on the Trial Court Judicial Nominating Commission for the State of Maryland.
Since the 1960’s, Ms. Votaw has visited nearly 70 countries to speak on human and civil rights and on development and women’s issues and has participated in countless international forums of governmental and non-governmental organizations including five United Nations World Conferences on Women (Mexico, Denmark, Kenya, Beijing, and New York).
Ms. Votaw is the author of a bilingual book, Puerto Rican Women: Some Biographical Profiles, and numerous book chapters and articles.
Congratulations to Bunny Sandler from Susan and all your friends at WREI. Thank you for opening up the classroom, the playing fields,
and the world to the girls and women of America.
— Susan Scanlan
To honor Billie Mackie for her long, sustaining leadership of the Self-Help for Equal Rights Organization at the National Institutes of Health.
— Fann Harding, PhD
I would like to honor my late mother, Margaret A. Tripodi,
who I value more and more each day as I learn how to be a mother.
— Gianna Tripodi Bhise
We honor my mother, Ramona, for encouraging the women of Ramona’s Way with her story. You are a true inspiration to us all.
— Ali-Sha Alleman
We honor Marie Nagorski, my mom, for always making time for us and showing us how wonderful life can be when you care!
–Maria, Terry, Andrew and Family
The National Research Center for Women & Families gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the following sponsors of the 2007 Foremother Awards Luncheon:
2006 Foremother Awards Luncheon
Mistress of Ceremonies
Former Congresswoman Patricia Scott Schroeder has been President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) since 1997. Ms. Schroeder left Congress, undefeated, in 1996 after representing the Denver area in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years.
In addition to heading the AAP, Ms. Schroeder also serves on the Marguerite Casey Foundation Board of Directors and the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights Executive Committee. She also serves on various advisory committees dealing with literacy and issues affecting children and women.
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1940, Pat Schroeder graduated magna cum laude in 1961 from the University of Minnesota, having worked to support herself through college. At Harvard Law School, she was one of only 15 women in a class of more than 500 men. She earned her J.D. in 1964 and moved to Denver, Colorado with her husband, James, who in 1972 encouraged her to challenge an incumbent Republican for the House seat representing Colorado’s First Congressional District.
The mother of two young children at the time she was elected, Ms. Schroeder went on to serve 12 terms. She had many legislative accomplishments as Dean of Congressional Women, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues for 10 years. She served on the Judiciary Committee, the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, and was the first woman on the Armed Services Committee. As chair of the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families from 1991 to 1993, Mrs. Schroeder guided the Family and Medical Leave Act and the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act to enactment.
She is the author of two books: Champion of the Great American Family and 24 Years of House Work…and the Place Is Still a Mess. She is in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Not many people tangled with Henry Kissinger and won. Marguerite Cooper did – as one of the lead plaintiffs in a gender discrimination suit against the State Department in 1976. Department policy had prohibited female – but not male – members of the Foreign Service from marrying or having any dependents.
Ms. Cooper was born in 1934 in El Segundo, California. She graduated from the University of Southern California and joined the Foreign Service in 1956, when fewer than 5% of Foreign Service officers were women. Postings in most of the world were closed to women because of dangerous conditions or because host governments would have objected. Most of the women who made it overseas had clerical jobs.
After 14 years of service, and considerable frustration, Ms. Cooper co-founded the Women’s Action Organization (WAO) to promote equitable treatment and representation of women and men in the State Department and Foreign Service. She led the organization for 18 years, as President and Vice-President, succeeding in opening new career paths, geographic areas of service, and plum assignments for women. The WAO also fought to improve the lives of State Department employee’s wives. It received the President’s Management Improvement Award from President Nixon in 1972.
In 1987 Ms. Cooper retired from the Service, leaving it a more equitable place, and she received the Equal Employment Opportunity Award from then-Secretary of State George Shultz.
When she retired, Ms. Cooper jumped right into politics, working as a staff member on Presidential and Congressional campaigns. In 1996, she began using her political knowledge to benefit women candidates, becoming active in the National Women’s Political Caucus. She has served on their Executive Committee as Vice President for Education and Training since 2003, helping train thousands of candidates for appointed and elective office.
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay was born in 1922 and grew up in Elmira, NY. Her interest in art led her to study art history as an undergraduate at Elmira College and as a graduate student at the University of Paris. Art did not start out as a career, however. Ms Holladay moved to Washington, DC in the final years of World War II and worked for an Air Force general. She later held a position at the information desk for the National Gallery of Art, and worked at the Chinese Embassy as the social secretary to Madame Chiang Kai-shek.
It was while traveling in Europe in the 1960s, that Ms Holladay and her husband first encountered the work of a 17th century painter named Clara Peeters. Although they were both knowledgeable about art history, neither had ever heard of Peeters. When they came home, they checked all their art reference books, including H.W. Janson’s classic, History of Art. They discovered there wasn’t a single woman in any of their books.
For the next 20 years, the Holladays traveled to top commercial galleries around the world in search of art by women, in order to demonstrate the contribution of women artists. Although galleries generally had limited collections of work by female artists, where the Holladay’s interest was known beautiful paintings were found. They discovered beautiful paintings and their efforts helped to generate more interest in women artists. They were also able to collect art by many recognized masters, including Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, and Georgia O’Keefe. In 1981, they donated their collection to found a National Museum of Women in the Arts. The museum, now a Washington DC landmark, first opened its doors six years later, and it remains the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to female artists.
The museum’s permanent collection features more than 3,000 objects representing work by more than 800 women artists from the 16th century to the present. It also houses a Library and Research Center with 19,000 volumes, periodicals, videos and archival files on over 18,000 women artists from around the world.
Mal Johnson was born in Philadelphia and grew up there, earning her B.A. at Temple University, and starting her career as a teacher in the Philadelphia school system. She married a neighbor who was in the U.S. Air Force, and as they traveled the world, she taught in England, Germany, and Guam. Back in the U.S., Ms. Johnson received a Master’s degree in Intergroup Relations and Community Dynamics from Springfield University in Massachusetts. When her husband died at Westover Air Force Base of injuries related to his service in Vietnam, Mal returned to Philadelphia, this time to work in the Civil Rights Movement. She was offered a job at WKBS-TV as the “Cash for Trash” “girl.” She was the first woman in the country to host “Dialing for Dollars.”
In 1969, Ms. Johnson was offered a job at the Cox Radio and Television News Bureau in Washington, DC. She sought advice from two colleagues, Barbara Walters and Jim Vance, both of whom urged her to take the job. She did, and she stayed for “27 wonderful years.”
Ms. Johnson was the first female reporter employed at Cox Radio and Television News and their first female White House correspondent. She covered five presidents, and was part of the White House Press Corp when President Nixon made his historical visits to Russia and China as well as when he resigned his Presidency. She also covered Capitol Hill, the State Department, and various Federal agencies. In 1980, Ms. Johnson was promoted to Senior Washington Correspondent and assigned additional duties as National Director of Community Affairs.
Ms. Johnson is currently Main Representative at the U.N. of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, and she continues to serve on numerous boards. She is a Founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs. She was inducted in the Journalists Hall of Fame in 2000. A TV documentary of her life is in the Archives of the History Makers of America.
After leaving Cox in 2000, Ms. Johnson created her own media consulting firm, Medialinx International.
Frances Oldham Kelsey, PhD, MD
Born in 1914 in British Columbia, Frances Oldham Kelsey earned her BSc in 1934 from McGill University. After completing her MSc degree in pharmacology there in 1935, she applied to the University of Chicago. A response addressed to “Mr. Oldham” offered her a research assistantship and scholarship in the PhD program at Chicago.
As a graduate student, Dr. Kelsey worked with a team that helped determine why a product known as Elixir Sulfanilamide had killed more than 100 people, including many children. They discovered that the product had an ingredient similar to antifreeze. Public outrage over the case resulted in a new federal law requiring companies to prove scientifically that their products were safe and effective before they could be sold.
After completing her PhD in pharmacology, Dr. Kelsey joined the faculty at the University of Chicago. She later met and married another faculty member, Dr. Fremont Kelsey. She gave birth to two daughters while in medical school, completed her MD in 1950, and then worked reviewing medical journal articles and teaching at the University of South Dakota.
In 1960, as a new FDA employee, she was asked to review a sleeping pill that was already available in other countries, called thalidomide. Although pressured by the manufacturer to quickly approve the drug, Dr. Kelsey was concerned about possible toxicity, especially if used during pregnancy. She kept the drug off the market by asking for better research data. Meanwhile, European physicians began reporting a growing number of births of babies with abnormal limbs, toes sprouting from the hips, and flipper-like arms. By 1961, thalidomide was found to be the cause. Ten thousand children in 46 countries were born with birth defects attributed to thalidomide use, but, thanks to Dr. Kelsey’s work, only 17 were in the U.S.
In 1962, President Kennedy presented Dr. Kelsey with the highest civilian honor: the medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. And once again, Congress strengthened the FDA. Dr. Kelsey continued to work at the FDA until she was in her late 80’s.
Janette D. Sherman, MD
Janette D. (Miller) Sherman was born in 1930 in Buffalo, and grew up in Wasaw, NY. She completed her BS in 1952 at Western Michigan University, and started her career working for the Atomic Energy Commission (University of California, at Berkeley) and the US Navy Radiological Defense Laboratory. She earned her M. D. in 1964 at Wayne State University, and trained in Internal Medicine in Detroit. Dr. Sherman was the only woman at Receiving Hospital during her time there as both an intern and a senior resident.
In private practice in Detroit, Dr. Sherman recognized the connection between her patients’ illnesses and the chemicals they were exposed to at work – mostly in heavy industry. As a result of her observations, she studied and became an expert in toxicology. In the late 1970’s she was a consultant on the infamous Love Canal case, where she helped prove that where one lives can be just as hazardous to one’s health as where one works. From 1976 to 1982, Dr. Sherman was a member of the advisory board for the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act.
Over the course of her career Dr. Sherman served as a medical-legal expert for thousands of individuals harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and nuclear radiation. Her work helped to institute the ban the pesticides chlordane and Dursban.
Dr. Sherman believes that the most hazardous environmental exposure is now nuclear radiation, including nuclear power plants. The National Library of Medicine is currently archiving her medical-legal and scientific records to make them available for research.
Dr. Sherman is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University, and a Research Associate with the Radiation and Public Health Project. She is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease. She works as an editor, writes for the popular press, and has published more than 70 scientific articles. She can be reached at: www.janettesherman.com.
The National Research Center for Women & Families gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the following sponsors of the 2006 Foremother Awards Luncheon:
2005 Foremother Awards Luncheon
Mary Dent Crisp *
Mary Dent Crisp is the founder and former Chair of the Republican Pro Choice Coalition. Believing passionately that a woman’s right to choose was threatened by the anti-abortion movement in the Republican Party, she formed this grass roots organization to support a woman’s constitutional and legal right to reproductive freedom and to remove the anti-choice plank from the national party platform.
Ms. Crisp began her career as a political leader in the Arizona Republican Party in 1961. In 1972, she was elected Republican National Committeewoman. As Secretary of the 1976 Republican National Convention, she called the roll of the states. The following year, she was elected Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, a post she held for three and a half years. During that time, she was an ardent advocate for the right to choose and the Equal Rights Amendment.
At the Republican National Convention in 1980, which she attended as National Co-Chair, Ms. Crisp warned the party that it’s newly declared position on abortion calling for a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure would undermine its ability to gain majority party status. She left the convention a political outcast and joined the campaign of independent John Anderson as its national Chair because of his strong support of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s rights.
From 1984 to the mid-nineties, Ms. Crisp served as Senior Adviser and National Political Director of BENS, Business Executives for National Security. She serves on the advisory boards of the National ACLU, National Political Women’s Caucus, and the National Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood. Her life and political career have been featured in two recent books, The Republican War Against Women by Tanya Melich and True to Ourselves by the League of Women Voters.
Margaret Feldman received a BA from Chapman College in Los Angeles, a MSW in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a PhD from Cornell University in Educational Psychology. She taught psychology and social work for 20 years at Ithaca College. Her involvement with the women’s movement started when she was student body president of Chapman College, the first woman student to hold that position. In 1970 she organized a large celebration in Ithaca to celebrate the signing of the 19th Amendment.
Around this time, while participating in a forum, Dr. Feldman used the word “sexism” to describe women’s condition; she has been credited as creating the term. Later she chaired the planning committee for the Seneca Falls pre-convention rally and celebration. Her husband Harold Feldman was always supportive of the Woman’s Movement, and was a founding faculty member of the Women’s Studies program at Cornell.
After retiring and moving to Washington, DC in 1981, she served as the Washington representative for the National Council on Family Relations. She also volunteered for the Senate Committee on Aging and the Older Women’s League. She served as a board member for the Clearing House on Women’s Issues. She has also been active in the Southwest DC Neighborhood Assembly, serving as President for many years, and has recently worked to establish the Southwest Heritage Walk.
Dr. Feldman has won numerous awards for her community service in Washington, DC and from the National Council on Family Relations for her years of service. She also received a life-time membership to the Groves Conference on Marriage and Families.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Sonia Pressman Fuentes was born in Berlin, Germany, and came to the U.S. with her family to escape Nazism. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University in 1950 and first in her class at the University of Miami School of Law in 1957. She had a 36-year career as an attorney and executive with the federal government and multinational corporations. She drafted many of the EEOC’s initial landmark guidelines and decisions. In addition to being one of the founders of NOW, she was also a founder of Federally Employed Women (FEW). In November 1966, Betty Friedan presented her with the Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) Medal of Honor in recognition of her work to improve the status of women.
Currently, Ms. Fuentes serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) and on the advisory committee of the Veteran Feminists of America. On March 21, 2000, she was one of five women inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. Later that year, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees included Ms. Fuentes in its Gallery of Prominent Refugees. She will be included in an exhibit of the Jewish Women’s Archive on l00 women who improved women’s status, and will be featured in a documentary film, “The Second Wave,” scheduled for release in early 2006.
Since her retirement in 1993, Ms. Fuentes has pursued an active career as a writer and public speaker. Her memoir, Eat First–You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, has been required reading in courses at Cornell University and American University. Further information is available on her website: http://www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes.
Anne Hale Johnson
As a philanthropist, a pro-choice activist and a progressive leader within the religious community, Anne Hale Johnson puts her actions and her energy where her passions lie.
As a young girl growing up in the 1920s, Ms. Johnson knew early on that there was a difference between how boys and girls were treated and viewed by society. But Johnson–born in Rochester, N.Y., the home of Susan B. Anthony, from a line of college-educated women–sensed the gender gap could be bridged.
As board chair of Union Theological Seminary in New York, which trains progressive people who wish to enter the ministry from a diversity of religious backgrounds, Johnson has helped further the institution’s women-friendly atmosphere. Johnson received a master’s degree from the school in 1956, just a month before Presbyterian Church USA ordained its first female minister. Today, two-thirds of the students are women, as are more than half of the tenured professors.
Following the death of their daughter Christiane in a tragic 1987 Amtrak accident, Anne Johnson and her husband Art founded Safe Travel America and successfully lobbied Congress to pass legislation requiring drug and alcohol testing for those in safety-sensitive positions in transportation.
Johnson has continued her support of progressive ideas within the religious community by serving on the board of directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, a group that supports gay ministers and an all-inclusive church. She has fought within the church in support of pro-choice positions, and has funded several studies of conservative religious groups in order to inform the public of their anti-choice, anti-gay agendas.
Fann Harding, a native of Kentucky, received her A.B. (1951) from Coker College in South Carolina and her M.S. (1954) and Ph.D (1958) in Anatomy from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. In 1958, Dr. Harding started her career at the National Institutes of Health in the National Heart Institute (Changed in 1976 to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) and held numerous positions in the Research and Training Grants Branch.
She also served as Program Director for Extramural Research Training and Career Development in Blood Diseases and Transfusion Medicine (1974-1996); Executive Secretary to the Blood Diseases and Resources Advisory Committee (1974-1996); and Assistant Coordinator of the US-USSR Health Exchange Program (1974-1996). Dr. Harding was responsible for the development of a new area of medicine (transfusion medicine) through an NIH-funded program she created and headed from 1982-1996 when she retired to pursue sculpturing.
Dr. Harding was the founding President (1970) of the NIH Organization for Women (now known as SHER, Self Help for Equal Rights), and a founding member of both the Association for Women in Science (1971) and the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women (1972). In the early 1970s she filed the first sex discrimination complaint against the National Institutes of Health and won her case in 1974.
Dr. Harding has received numerous awards, including the Ruth Patrick Award (1951); the NIH Sustained Performance Award (1973); and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Blood Banks (1990). She also is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of Sigma Delta Epsilon, the National Woman’s Party, the Microcirculatory Society, the International Society of Blood Transfusion, and the International Society of Lymphology.
Gloria T. Johnson
As a founding member, Gloria T. Johnson served as President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women from1993 to 2004. Prior to being elected to that position, Ms. Johnson was CLUW’s Treasurer for 17 years. In 1993, Ms. Johnson was elected Vice President of the AFL-CIO, only the second African American woman to hold that prestigious position.
Ms. Johnson joined the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers in 1954 as a bookkeeper. For many years she served as the elected chair of the IUE Women’s Council. Today she serves as the Women’s Activities Coordinator for the merged IUE-CWA.
Ms. Johnson has represented the American Labor Movement around the world. Her travels abroad for the labor movement have taken her to Israel, France and Sweden Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Belgium, Haiti, Brazil, Slovakia, Croatia, Central and South America, and Czech Republic, speaking to trade union women and men on issues of special concern to women.
Her work for women’s rights and civil rights has been recognized over the years. She has received the Operation PUSH Award for Outstanding Women in the Labor Movement. Other honors include: the 1981 Economic Equity Award from Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) for outstanding achievement in the Labor Movement; the 1985 award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the A. Philip Randolph Institute 1994 Achievement Award; the 1995 Wise Women Award presented by Center for Women Policy Studies; and the NAACP first Annual Pathway to Excellence Award “Women of Labor” in 1995. In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History. In 1999, she received the Eugene V. Debbs Award in Labor. In 2000, she received the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Labor Leader “Nation Builders” Award, and the National Committee on Pay Equity’s Winn Newman Award.
Attorney and social justice activist Allie Latimer was born in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. Growing up in Alabama, her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was a builder. She attended the Alabama State Lab High School where she earned her high school diploma in the 1940s. Latimer earned a BS degree from Hampton Institute in Virginia. Upon graduation Ms. Latimer joined the American Friends in Service, which is part of the Quaker International Volunteer Service program, and worked at a women’s prison in New Jersey. She later traveled to France with the same group as part of a peace rebuilding mission.
Ms. Latimer received a law degree from Howard University Law School, a LL.M degree from Catholic University, and a M. Div. and D.Min from Howard University School of Divinity. In 1969, she became an Ordained Elder at Northeastern Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.
In 1968, Ms. Latimer was instrumental in organizing Federally Employed Women and became the founding president. FEW is a national organization that has more than 200 chapters today. After working in private practice for several years, she joined the General Services Administration (GSA) in the early 1970s as an Assistant General Counsel. In 1976, Ms. Latimer left GSA to serve as an Assistant General Counsel for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 1977, she returned to the GSA and made history when she became the first woman and African American to serve as General Counsel of a major federal agency. She held that post for ten years until she moved on to serve as Special Counsel for Ethics and Civil Rights at GSA from 1987-1995.
In 1998, Ms. Latimer was awarded the prestigious Ollie Mae Cooper Award for her legal and humanitarian achievements.
With two brothers, six uncles, a husband and four sons, Ruth Nadel was destined to be an activist on women’s issues. In the 30’s she completed a BBA degree and a MS in Education. She later completed a group dynamics training certificate program at Bethel, ME. Family life during the 40’s and early 50’s included leadership in the Montgomery County, MD community, with preschools, the PTA and a variety of public policy organizations. Her community service activities continued after she moved to California. In the 60’s, Ruth campaigned and won election to the Santa Barbara Board of Education, the lone woman among its 5 members.
Returning to Washington, Ms. Nadel was encouraged in 1968 to apply for a midlevel vacancy in Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, testing whether unpaid volunteer work of equivalent level could be accepted as work experience. She got the job. Ruth worked for 21 years at the Women’s Bureau where she earned the Department’s Distinguished Service Award for her contribution in designing and developing the first on-site, employer-supported child care center, and related child care options for working families. As their dependent care specialist, she made sure that eldercare was added in the 80’s.
When she retired in 1989, Ms. Nadel chose to return to “professional volunteerism,” or pro bono work, as she calls it. She is a DC Commissioner on Aging, serves as co-chair of the NCWO Global Women’s Task Force, the Woman’s National Democratic Club Board of Governors, IONA Citizens Advisory Council, and produces a weekly national legislative call-in for OWL, among other commitments. She also works against the stigma of ageism.
After completing her BS degree at the University of Illinois, Elaine Newman’s first job was at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, helping to bring displaced persons to this country. She subsequently worked as the Assistant to the Director of the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and as a caseworker in TB Control in Texas. She was also a union organizer until the Office Director (a woman) decided she shouldn’t stand in front of the garment shops while visibly pregnant. She was subsequently promoted to be the Director of Education.
Ms. Newman ultimately moved to Washington, DC and worked in politics and civil rights, and lobbied Congress as a volunteer. Her first paying job in the Women’s Movement was in the early 1970’s, when she became the first Director of the Maryland Commission for Women.went on to run women’s and civil rights programs in the federal government and chaired the Federal Women’s Interagency Board (made up of people who chaired women’s programs in government agencies).
Ms. Newman’s accomplishments in government service were recognized by Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in Government. She is a past chair of the Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues and is currently the Vice President for Programs at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. She also serves on several other boards, and is a delegate to the Metro Council of the AFL-CIO.
Joy Simonson *
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Joy Simonson served as chairman of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board from 1964 to 1972, the first woman to hold that position; chief hearing examiner for the D.C. Rent Commission; Assistant Director of the Federal Women’s Program of the U.S. Civil Service Commission; president of the D.C. League of Women Voters; vice president of Executive Women in Government; and was the founder of the D.C. Commission for Women.
From 1975 to 1982, Ms. Simonson was the Executive Director of the National Advisory Council on Women’s Educational Programs, a Presidentially appointed body which advises Congress and federal officials on educational equity for women and girls. In 1982, the newly appointed members of the Council removed Ms. Simonson from her position as Executive Director because of her support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Her firing became a cause celebre and a rallying cry for the Women’s Movement.
From 1982 to 1990, Ms. Simonson worked as an oversight investigator for the House Employment and Housing Subcommittee. She worked on issues such as child labor, occupational safety and health issues, and delays by the EEOC in processing age discrimination cases. At her retirement, she was the oldest House staff member.
In 1992, Ms. Simonson was elected to the District of Columbia Women’s Hall of Fame. She is currently President of the Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues, serves on the Steering Committee of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and has been a long-time board member of OWL.
Special thanks to Preferred Office Club and Suzanne Turner of Turner Strategies for co-sponsoring this special luncheon celebration with the National Research Center for Women & Families. Thanks also to the Occidental Restaurant for making it possible.