Foremother and Health Policy Hero Awards Luncheons

Every year, we take time off from our research and public education to thank women and men who have improved our lives.

The Foremother Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes women 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.

We also recognize Health Policy Heroes. This award honors men and women (and sometimes boys and girls) who have changed the public debate and public policies in ways that help to improve the lives of adults and children nationwide.


2019 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon

The 2019 awards luncheon was held at the elegant Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.  We honored Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Dorothy Butler Gilliam, and Deborah Tannen as Foremothers for their lifetime achievements in breaking down barriers and improving lives.  We honored Dr. Marsha Griffin and Dr. Cristina Muñiz de la Peña as Health Policy Heroes on behalf of the advocates across the country for their work helping vulnerable immigrants, reuniting children with their families, and improving inhumane policies at the border.  It was a huge success and a wonderful honor to be able to hear from such inspirational leaders! See a slideshow of the 2019 honorees throughout their careers and the thanks to our sponsors.

See more photos in our Facebook album. | Thank you to Sherri Holdridge, our wonderful official photographer.

2018 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Heroes Luncheon

The 2018 awards luncheon was held at the historic Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. We honored Rita Colwell and Lynn Povich as Foremothers and Kai Koerber and Susan Rioux as Health Policy Heroes on behalf of activists across the country fighting to reduce gun violence. It was a huge success and a wonderful honor to be able to hear from such inspirational leaders!

See more photos in our Facebook album. | Thank you to Sherri Holdridge for the photography.


Emcee Maureen Bunyan addresses the crowd

Foremother Dr. Rita Colwell receives her award and stands with Emcee Maureen Bunyan and NCHR President Dr. Diana Zuckerman

Foremother Lynn Povich

Health Policy Heroes Susan Rioux and Kai Koerber with Emcee Maureen Bunyan

Foremother Lynn Povich with former Foremothers Dr. Omega Logan Silva, Karen Mulhauser, Mary Hager, Maureen Bunyan, and Dr. Vivan Pinn

Several NCHR key staff

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Here are photos of several of our previous honorees.

Dorothy Height, Judy Woodruff, Maureen Bunyan, Amy Reed, Hooman Noorchasm, Elaine Jones, Tracy Weber, and Charles Ornstein

Cokie Roberts, Charles Grassley, Rosa DeLauro, Marc Edwards, LeAnne Walters, and Louise Slaughter

For more information about these honorees, please scroll down or skip to specific years by clicking the links below.

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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

The 2017 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!

See more photos in our Facebook album. | Thank you to Liz Roll for the photography.


Wendy Walsh
Emcee Wendy Walsh has become a champion for working women ever since her standing up to Bill O’Reilly led to his departure from Fox News.
Maureen Bunyan addresses the luncheon crowd
Melanne Verveer
Foremother Melanne Verveer stands with her award with NCHR President Dr. Diana Zuckerman and Emcee Dr. Wendy Walsh
Health Policy Heroes
Health Policy Heroes Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin of Kaiser Health News
Current and Former Foremothers
This year’s Foremother honorees, Maureen Bunyan and Melanne Verveer, stand with past Foremothers at the luncheon: Ambassador Connie Morella, Karen Mulhauser, Dr. Omega Silva and Dr Vivian Pinn, and NCHR President Dr. Diana Zuckerman
Thank you to everyone who attended the luncheon!
NCHR Staff
Several NCHR key staff at our Awards luncheon with Foremothers honoree Maureen Bunyan


We gratefully acknowledge our 2017 sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor:



AAJ high q

Gold Sponsor:

Catherine Joyce
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Leadership Sponsors:

The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley

congressional federal


Thank you to the generous individuals who supported this year’s luncheon:
Christopher Cooper
Catherine Joyce
Andrew Rothenberg
Benjamin Gitterman
Omega Logan Silva
Janis Manning
Beth Newburger
Vicki Sant
Mary Sexton
Janette Sherman
Duchy Trachtenberg
Phyllis Wiesenfelder

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!

See more photos in our Facebook album. | Thank you to Liz Roll for the photography.


Dr. Diana Zuckerman, Judy Woodruff, and Maureen Bunyan
Dr. Diana Zuckerman, Judy Woodruff, and Maureen Bunyan, WJLA anchor
Elaine Jones
Dr. Zuckerman with Elaine Jones and Maureen Bunyan
Wendell Primus
Dr. Zuckerman, Wendell Primus, Maureen Bunyan
Health Policy Heroes
Health Policy Heroes Marc Edwards and LeeAnne Walters
Former Foremothers 2016
Dr. Diana Zuckerman with former and current Foremothers

Foremothers and Health Policy Heroes Awards Luncheon

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.

Judy Woodruff
Judy Woodruff

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.

Elaine Jones
Elaine Jones

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.

Wendell Primus
Wendell Primus
Our 2016 Health Policy Heroes are successfully working in Flint, Michigan to change policies that have enormous impact the health of thousands of people.
LeeAnne Walters is the Flint, Mich., stay-at-home mother who was getting nowhere trying to convince state and local officials that there was something seriously wrong with their water. She started investigating the lead levels and possible causes, and contacted Marc Edwards, an environmental engineering professor from Virginia Tech and MacArthur Genius award winner. In 2004, he helped shed light on lead in drinking water in Washington, DC and has spent thousands of dollars of his own money to investigate the lead disaster in Flint’s water supply and elsewhere across the country. Together they contacted the EPA, and Miguel del Toral did all he could to make sure the Flint water would be made safe, despite misinformation from official sources.
Marc Edwards and LeeAnne Walters
Marc Edwards speaking as LeeAnne Walters looks on – two Flint, Michigan heroes
NCHR Staff
NCHR Staff

We gratefully acknowledge our 2016 sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor:

AAJ high q

Gold Sponsors:

Catherine Joyce
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Kaiser logo

Leadership Sponsor:

The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley


congressional federal

IBEW logo


nesxerox logo

Thank you to the generous individuals who supported this year’s luncheon:
Christopher Cooper
Catherine Joyce
Andrew Rothenberg
Benjamin Gitterman
Nancy Hardt
Janis Manning
Omega Logan Silva in memory of Dr. Joan P. Treuer
Phyllis Wiesenfelder
Susan Wood

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.

Honorees Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, Jodie Bernstein, Dr. Amy Reed, Karen Mulhauser, with our Emcee, Autria Godfrey, WJLA anchor
NCHR president Dr. Diana Zuckerman
Our 2015 Foremothers, Karen Mulhauser and Jodie Bernstein
A full house claps for the honorees
Dr. Diana Zuckerman and Autria Godfrey with former and current Foremothers: Anne Hale Johnson, Ambassador Connie Morella, Karen Mulhauser, Jodie Bernstein, Dr. Omega Logan Silva.
NCHR Research Assistant Amelia Murphy is moved by Dr. Amy Reed’s remarks
Honoree Jodie Bernstein
Jodie Bernstein is one of our nation’s  foremost consumer advocates.  As director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), she was the country’s top Cybercop, making the Bureau a model for consumer protection agencies around the world. Her new initiatives involved protecting children and adults who shop online, subprime lending, privacy protection, and fraud prevention.  Described in a Washington Post magazine cover story in March as an audacious woman “before audacious was in,” she mentored, nurtured and inspired generations of consumer protection advocates.
Honoree Karen Mulhauser on left

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.

Honorees Dr. Amy Reed and Dr. Hooman Noorchashm

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.

Dr. Hooman Noorchashm and Dr. Amy Reed with two of their children, Joseph and Nadia.



NCHR staff: Dr. Diana Zuckerman, Paul Brown, Christina Silcox, Anna Mazzucco, Nick Jury, Katy Wang, Alisha Malkani, Elena Gerasimov, and Amelia Murphy
One of our first Foremothers, Anne Hale Johnson

We gratefully acknowledge our 2015 sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor:

AAJ high q

Gold Sponsors:

The Cooper-Rothenberg Group
at Morgan Stanley

Catherine Joyce
at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Kelley Drye

Negin Noorchashm Griffith, MD, FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery


congressional federal

nesxerox logo

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.

Honoree Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Emcee Maureen Bunyan
slaughter podium
Honoree Louise Slaughter
Health Policy Hero Charles Ornstein, Honoree Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Health Policy Hero Tracy Weber
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Honoree Irene Pollin with Dr. Diana Zuckerman
Past Foremothers with Emcee L to R: Mary Hager, Carmen Delgado Votaw, Ruth Nadel, Fann Harding, Emcee Maureen Bunyan, Omega Silva
Former Foremother Ruth Nadel turned 100 this year
Former Foremother Ruth Nadel turned 100 this year!

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:

Platinum Sponsors:

AAJ high qNATCA_logo_color

Gold Sponsors:

The Cooper-Rothenberg Group at Morgan Stanley

Catherine Joyce at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management


congressional federalNES logo 5-21sixth and i

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.

2013 Foremother Awards luncheon. From left: Connie Connie Morella, Mary Hager, Cokie Roberts, Lindy Boggs, Dr. Diana Zuckerman,Valerie Arkoosh, Tara Montgomery, & Dr. Vivian Pinn.
Former Foremother Ambassador Connie Morella, Mary Hager, Cokie Roberts, Ambassador Lindy Boggs, DZ, Dr. Val Arkoosh representing National Physicians Alliance, Tara Montgomery representing Consumer Reports, and Dr. Vivian Pinn.

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:



AAJ high q

The Cooper-Rothenberg Group at Morgan Stanley

Leadership Sponsors:

New Lanier Logo - No Stripes 6.23.11

Sheller log

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:

2012 Foremothers
Our 2012 Foremothers: Beatrix Hamburg, Alice Rivlin, Joan Claybrook

Our 2012 Health Policy Hero. Dr. Linda Birnbaum speaks to the audience, while the 2011 Health Policy Hero, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, looks on.

Dr. Beatrix Hamburg and her daughter FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg (our 2011 Health Policy Hero) share a moment.

Former Foremothers
Former Foremothers with Katharine Weymouth and NRC President. From left to right: Katharine Weymouth, Omega Logan Silva, Carmen Delgado Votaw, The Honorable Connie Morella, Ruth Nadel, Ruth Lubic and Dr. Diana Zuckerman.

Foremother Omega Logan Silva (2nd from left) and friends enjoying the sunshine at the champagne reception.

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)

Foremothers, Health Policy Hero, and Dr. Zuckerman
2011 Foremothers and Health Policy Hero with NRC President. From left to right: Judith Viorst, Vicki Sant, Margaret Hamburg, Diana Zuckerman

Eleanor Holmes Norton and Dr. Zuckerman
2011 Foremother Eleanor Holmes Norton and Diana Zuckerman

Margaret and Beatrix Hamburg
Margaret and Beatrix Hamburg

Former Foremothers
Former Foremothers Elaine Newman (2005), Connie Morella (2008), Ruth Nadel (2005), Omega Logan Silva (2010), and Fann Harding (2005)

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following sponsors of our 2011 luncheon:



AAJ logo

Walmart Foundation


Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser logo



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)

Katharine Weymouth , Diana Zuckerman, Omega Logan Silva, Diane Rehm, Catherine DeAngelis
Katharine Weymouth, Diana Zuckerman, Omega Logan Silva, Diane Rehm, Catherine DeAngelis

Ruth Lubic
2010 Foremother Ruth Lubic






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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

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.

Edith Fierst

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.”

Connie Morella

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

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.

Bernice Sandler

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