The National Women's History Project would like to thank Jennifer Kennedy, Jeanne Robinson, Christie Rubio, and Margaret Zierdt for their work in researching, writing, and editing the paragraphs on the former National Women's History Week/Month Honorees.
A list of all the women who have been honored for
National Women's History Week and National Women's History Month follows (in alphabetical order):
Wendy Abrams (b. 1965)
Founder and President of Cool Globes
Wendy Abrams founded Cool Globes, a non-profit organization established to raise awareness of global warming, and to inspire individuals and community leaders to embrace solutions. She also demonstrates her commitment to a healthy environment a member of the National Council of Environmental Defense, the National Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Resources Defense Council C4 Action Fund.
Bella Abzug (1920-1998 )
Congresswoman, Women’s Rights Activist
Abzug was a founder and national legislative director of Women Strike for Peace from 1961 to 1970. She served 3 terms in Congress (1970-1976) where she worked to end the Vietnam War and the draft. She was presiding officer at the first government sponsored women’s conference at Houston in 1977. In 1990, she co-founded the International Women’s Environment and Development Organization to provide visibility and support for working women.
Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
Women Rights Advocate
As a self-educated woman, Adams held well-informed strong political beliefs. In over two thousand letters written to her husband John, to family and friends, and to government officials, she articulately expressed her ideas on the American Revolution, the new nation, the American family, foreign courts, and war. Well respected, her opinions were influential in government affairs before, during, and after her husband’s term as president.
Rebecca Adamson (1950-)
Native American Advocate
A member of the Cherokee nation, in 1980 Adamson founded the First Nations Development Institute. This group has established new standards of accountability regarding federal responsibility and reservation land reform and has an operating budget of about three million dollars. Adamson has aided indigenous peoples in Australia and Africa also and has received many awards for mobilizing and unifying people to solve common problems.
Jane Addams (1860–1935)
Addams founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889, America's first settlement house providing English language classes, childcare, health education, and recreational programs for poor immigrant families. From 1919 until her death, Addams was president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the first American woman so honored, for her unending dedication to the causes of peace and social justice.
Marian Anderson (1902-1993)
Anderson was denied permission to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. by the Daughters of the American Revolution—because she was black. Undaunted, she sang at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939, to an audience of 75,000. With a voice that “comes once in a century,” Anderson was the first black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955. Her talent and quiet determination opened doors for other black classical performers.
Mary Anderson (1872–1964)
Anderson’s keen negotiating skills and labor activism, especially on behalf of working women, won her an appointment in 1920 as the first director of the Women’s Bureau in the U.S. Department of Labor. During her 24 years there, she played a major role in winning federal minimum wage and maximum hour laws for women. After retiring in 1944, Anderson continued to advocate on behalf of working women.
Ethel Percy Andrus (1884–1967)
Elder Rights Activist
Andrus was the founder of the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947 and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 1958. As its first president, Andrus pioneered nursing home reform legislation, often testified before Congress on issues of concern to senior citizens, and challenged mandatory retirement laws. She showed Americans of all ages that older people can and do live productive, useful, and purposeful lives.
Maya Angelou (1928-)
Angelou is a novelist, poet, professional stage and screen writer, dancer, editor, lecturer, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Most notable among her publications are autobiographical novels starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1970, which helped establish the memoir as a popular genre. In 1993, Angelou recited an original poem at President Clinton’s inauguration, confirming her status as "a people’s poet."
Lupe Anguiano (b. 1929)
Protector of the Earth and Activist for the Poor
Defying any single category of cause or action, Lupe Anguiano, an educator, has always worked for the equality of all people. She is a passionate environment volunteer, helping to protect "Mother Earth" from global warming and other destructive environmental hazards. In 1949, she joined Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters. As a nun, she worked for fifteen years to improve the social, educational, and economic conditions of poor people throughout the United States. Anguiano was also a United Farm Workers’ Volunteer, working directly under the direction of Cesar Chavez in Delano, California. She led the successfully grape boycott in the entire State of Michigan in 1965.
Susan B. Anthony (1820- 1906)
Women’s Rights Activist, Suffragist
Susan B. Anthony began her life-long campaign for woman suffrage when she met Stanton in 1852. They organized the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Anthony edited its newspaper, traveled extensively, organizing and lecturing. When committed people work for justice, she said, "Failure is Impossible." The Nineteenth Amendment, passed in 1920, has been called the "Anthony Amendment" in tribute to the tireless work of this great crusader.
Virginia Apgar (1909-1974)
Apgar graduated in 1933 from Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1949, she became the first full professor of anesthesiology at Columbia. In 1952, she developed the internationally adopted Apgar Score System which measures a newborn infant’s heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes and color. She joined the National Foundation—March of Dimes in 1959, and in 1967, she became director of basic research for the Foundation.
Mary Arlene Appelhof ( 1936 --2005 )
Biologist, Worm Farmer, Educator, Publisher, and Environmentalist
Mary Appelhof advocated using the lowly earthworm to recycle food waste into usable fertilizer. In the early 1970s she turned her basement worm container into a career designing composting bins, marketing worms, and authoring Worms Eat My Garbage. As “Worm Woman,” she introduced thousands of schoolchildren and home gardeners to the fascinating, environmentally-significant activity of vermicomposting. http://www.wormwoman.com/acatalog/index.html
Roswitha Augusta, is an entrepreneur, naturalist, and environmental filmmaker. In 1980, she established Augusta Properties, an apartment management company. Her profound love of nature prompted her to learn filmmaking and produce the award winning documentary, Preserving the Future, about the conflict between preserving our environment and urbanization. Additionally, she hosts a cable television program about local environmental issues. http://www.gazette.net/gazette_archive/2000/200036/rockville/news/24498-1.html
Stephanie Avery (b. 1975)
Director of Special Projects, YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear and Leave No Trace Master Educator
Ms. Avery developed ECO CAMPS on YWCA property. She personally built nature trails through the wetlands using the best practices of “Leave No Trace,” spearheaded the identification of the flora and fauna, and created a tent classroom. She continues her work in conducting workshops and running ongoing ECO CAMPS and striving to help the community form habits to protect and preserve the environment.
Judith F. Baca (1946-)
Determined to give all people a voice in public art and urban culture, Baca organized over 1,000 young people in Los Angeles to create more than 250 murals citywide. Starting in 1974, her massive works have brought together young people from different ethnic neighborhoods to explore their cultural histories and make connections to their lives today. Since 1987, Baca has been creating an enormous portable mural called the “World Wall” to promote global peace.
Ella Baker (1903–1986)
Baker worked steadily for 50 years to gain civil and voting rights for blacks. As Field Secretary and later Director of Branches for the NAACP, from 1938–1946, she traveled extensively in the segregated South, often at great peril. Baker helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1958, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964.
Clara Barton (1821- 1912)
Nurse, American Red Cross Founder
Barton began her humanitarian work in the Civil War when she collected and delivered supplies and nursed wounded Union soldiers. She was called the “Angel of the Battlefield.” In 1869, she learned about the work of the International Red Cross, founded in 1863 in Geneva. Barton helped convince the United States to sign the Geneva treaty in 1882, and in 1893, she became president of the American Red Cross. For 22 years, Barton led its disaster relief work.
Mollie Beattie (1947 – 1996)
Forester, Conservationist and Government Official
Mollie Beattie was the first woman to head the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces wildlife laws and administers the Endangered Species Act. Beattie oversaw the successful reintroduction of the gray wolf into northern Rocky Mountains. To recognize her extraordinary work in the field of conservation, Congress named a wilderness area in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in her honor. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980CE0D61239F93AA15755C0A960958260
Catharine Beecher (1800-1852)
Beecher was a dedicated advocate of education for women. Beecher founded the Hartford Female Seminary in 1827 and later opened schools in western towns to train women to be teachers and strong mothers. Her 1869 book, The American Woman’s Home, gave basic information on child rearing, housekeeping, and cooking. She endorsed exercise, non-restrictive clothes, fresh air, and good food to develop healthy women able to raise educated citizens.
Rebecca Bell (b.1953)
Environmental Education Specialist
Rebecca Bell has provided outstanding leadership in embedding environmental issues into the Maryland State curriculum for all public schools. Honored as the Maryland Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, Ms. Bell was selected in 2008 to participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher at Sea program to help scientists monitor changing ecosystem. Rebecca also serves on the Governor’s Climate Change Commission. http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/environment
Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)
Educator, Presidential Advisor
In 1904, Bethune opened a school for black girls in Daytona Beach that became Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. She was its president until 1942. In 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women and was its president until 1949. From 1936 to 1944, Bethune served as advisor to President Roosevelt on minority affairs. She was vice-president of NAACP from 1940 to 1955. In 1945, she attended the organizing conference of the United Nations.
Rachel Binah (
b. 1942 )
Rachel Binah mobilized her Fort Bragg in California community to stop oil drilling off California’s North Coast. Federal hearings were attended by 5000 people with 1400 signed up to testify! As Chair Emeritus of California Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus, and Democratic National Committeewoman, Rachel continues to advocate for Earth’s environment, alternative energy, and ocean protection to Democratic candidates, elected officials.
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)
Blackwell became the first woman doctor when she graduated from Geneva Medical School in 1849. Blackwell and two other women doctors opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857. During the Civil War, she assisted in selecting and training nurses. She and her sister opened the Women's Medical College in New York in 1868. Returning to her native England, she was a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Children.
Jenny Blaker (b. 1955)
Outreach Coordinator, Cotati Creek Critters
As Outreach Coordinator for the Cotati Creek Critters (CCC) in Cotati, California, Jenny Blaker has involved hundreds of volunteers in planting a mile of native trees and shrubs alongside the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa waterway. CCC’s community education program has helped to raise awareness and nurture a sense of environmental stewardship. Although Ms. Blaker is a British national, she was awarded the Cotati Citizen of the Year Award, 2007. www.CotatiCreekCritters.info
Arlene Blum ( b.1945 )
Bio-Physical Chemist, Mountaineer, Environmental Activist
Arlene Blum is best known for leading the first American, all-women’s ascent of Annapurna. Blum’s research was instrumental in banning Tris and Fyrol, two cancer-causing chemicals used as flame retardants on children’s sleepwear, and the pesticide DBCP. Today, Blum is fighting the use of flame retardants in every-day products such as upholstered furniture. She is the author ofBreaking Trail: A Climbing Life.
http://www.arleneblum.com/, http://greensciencepolicy.org/, http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2007/06/27/AM200706273.html
Margrett (“Gretta”) Boley
Forest Supervisor, Kisatchie National Forest
Superintendent Boley was first in the region to implement Biomass Plant which produces energy from wood chips for district office, parking lot lighting and other energy needs. A leader and role model in reducing the carbon footprint, she began an office campaign for recycling paper, batteries, disposal of tree marking paint, oil, other items that are harming the environment.
Additional information can be obtained from the public information officer, Jim Caldwell, Kisatchie National Forest, (318) 473-7160, ext. 7168
Gertrude Bonnin (1876-1938)
Indian Rights Activist, Writer
Growing up on a reservation and attending missionary schools, Bonnin faced pressures from the white community to ignore her mother’s Sioux culture. In 1901, she compiled an anthology, Old Indian Legends and in 1913, she wrote an opera, The Sun Dance. From 1918 to 1919, she was editor of the American Indian Magazine. She created the National Council of American Indians in 1926 to fight for rights and equality for American Indians.
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)
Bourke-White was the first female photojournalist, working for Fortune magazine and Life magazine. She published photos of the depression in a book, You have Seen Their Faces. During World War II, she documented military action in Africa and Europe. Bourke-White later photographed Gandhi’s non-violent protests in India. Her images of the Great Depression, WWII, and the liberation of the concentration camps reveal the startling human side of historical events.
Carol Moseley Braun
Braun was the first black woman Senator, serving from 1992 to 1998, after ten years in the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1998, she worked with the Dept. of Education developing programs to assist minority and women college students. From 1999 to 2001, Braun was ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Braun was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2003, but withdrew in January 2004.
Pearl Buck (1892-1973)
Buck wrote more than 100 books using a variety of themes and many locales including China, Russia, and America. In 1931, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Good Earth . She won the Nobel Prize in 1938 for her writings, the first American women so honored. She founded Welcome House, an adoption agency for Asian-American children in 1949. The Pearl S. Buck Foundation was set up in 1964 to aid half-American children throughout Asia.
Sarah Buel (1953-)
Domestic Violence Activist, Attorney
Escaping domestic violence in her own life, Sarah Buel became an impassioned advocate for the legal rights of battered women and abused children. Believing that if she became an attorney she could best defend and advocate for battered women and their children, she graduated from Harvard Law School and now runs a legal clinic for battered women. She is also co-founder and co-director of the National Training Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961)
Educator, School Founder
"We specialize in the wholly impossible," describes the school Burroughs opened for black girls and women in 1909 with seven students. The National Training School for Women and Girls opened in Washington, D.C., combining classical and trade courses with required black history classes. By the 1960s, thousands from around the world had received an education of junior college quality. In 1964, the school became the Nannie Helen Burroughs Elementary School.
Barbara K. Byrd ( b. 1949 )
State Secretary of the Oregon AFL-CIO
Barbara Byrd coordinates the Oregon Apollo Alliance, a labor-business-environmental coalition that promotes clean energy and good jobs. In 2007, she attended the United Nations Climate Change Convention in Bali, Indonesia. Her participation in the first labor delegation to the Western Climate Initiative stakeholder meetings in 2008 which resulted in documenting labor’s stake in the climate change.
Helen Caldicott (b.1938)
Physician, Author, Speaker
Helen Caldicott, physician, pacifist, and anti-nuclear activist, has worked for over 35 years to educate the international community on the medical and environmental hazards of the nuclear age. As “the single most articulate and passionate advocate of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises,” Dr. Caldicott was named by The Smithsonian Institute as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. www.helencaldicott.com
Edna Campbell (1968-)
Professional Athlete, Spokesperson for Breast Cancer Awareness
A professional basketball player with the WNBA Sacramento Monarchs and a breast cancer survivor, Edna Campbell travels across the country as a spokesperson for breast cancer awareness, encouraging women to do regular breast exams and inspiring those with cancer to have hope and courage in challenging the disease. She uses these opportunities to recognize other survivors and to raise money for breast cancer research.
Tammy Cromer-Campbell ( b.1960)
Knowing that environmental justice issues are not limited to Winona, Texas, Tammy Cromer-Campbell documents how communities struggle with environmental injustice. She starts with Winona, Texas, then Seattle, Washington, Houston and De Berry, Texas. It's her hope that revealing these injustices real change will occur. To tell this story, she created With Fruit of the Orchard | Environmental Justice in East Texas as a film and as a book. http://www.tccphoto.com, http://www.cep.unt.edu/foto, http://www.fruitoftheorchard.com, http://www.ejusa.info, http://www.tccphotogallery.com, short 10 minute film: http://web.mac.com/tccphoto/iWeb/ejusa/ejusa.html
Rachel Carson (1907–1964)
Biologist, Pioneer Environmentalist
Carson's research and writings awakened worldwide concern for our environment. In 1962, Silent Spring, detailed the dangers of DDT and other pesticides. She warned that these chemicals contaminate humans, animals, and the entire "web of life." She wrote that "the central problem of our age has therefore become the contamination of [the] total environment." Considered very controversial at first, her ideas became the foundation of the modern environmental movement.
Mary Shadd Cary (1823-1893)
Teacher, Journalist, Lawyer
Cary was born free in Delaware and taught for 10 years in schools for free blacks. In 1851, she moved to Canada to help blacks who had fled after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 but were being fleeced by the sponsoring society. In 1853, she edited the helpful paper Provincial Freeman. In 1869, she moved to Washington, earned a law degree from Howard University in 1883, and lectured on woman suffrage and the need for education for blacks and race improvement.
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Cather wrote novels and short stories dealing with the struggles of European immigrants in the harsh environment of frontier Nebraska. After four years as an editor for McClure’s in New York, Cather published her first novel in 1912 titled Alexander’s Bridge. In 1923, she won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. With strong, independent female characters, her novels capture pioneer traditions and also their collapse in the twentieth century.
Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D (b.1961)
Founder and Editor, Earth Negotiations Bulletin
Pamela S. Chasek has for 22 years demonstrated her passionate commitment to working to save the planet in her writing and in her work planning a climate change awareness campaign for the National Wildlife Foundation in the 1980’s. She founded the Earth Negotiations Bulletin in1992, created an environmental studies major at Manhattan College, and continues working each day to create a green campus. http://www.unu.edu/unupress/backlist/ab-globalenv.html
Linda Chavez-Thompson (1944)
Linda Chavez-Thompson, the daughter of sharecroppers, worked as an agricultural laborer before joining the labor union, eventually rising through the ranks of the AFL-CIO to become the first person of color, and the first woman, elected to be the Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO in 1995.
Lynne Cherry (b.1952)
Author, Environmental Appreciation and Education Books
Lynne Cherry is the author/illustrator of The Great Kapok Tree and thirty+ other award-winning children’s books that teach respect for the earth. Flute’s Journey: the Life of a Wood Thrush focused national media attention on conservation efforts to save the 60 acre Belt Woods in Md. when Lynne and students were featured on Sunday Morning News With Charles Osgood.
Judy Chicago (b. 1939)
Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose art has been exhibited in the United States and internationally. Her most well-known work, “The Dinner Party,” is a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization. Executed between 1974 and 1979 by hundreds of volunteers, it is now permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum. Chicago also created the “Birth Project” (1980-1985) and the “Holocaust Project” (1993).
Shirley Chisholm (1924- 2005)
Activist and Congresswoman
In 1968, Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress where she served for 14 years. In 1972, she made history by campaigning for nomination by the Democratic Party for President, the first woman of color to seek the nation’s highest office. Since her retirement from politics in 1982 she has lectured and written on human rights issues. As a professor at Mount Holyoke College, her courses included political science and women’s studies.
President and Owner of Christie Communications
As CEO of Christie Communications, a full-service, organic marketing company exclusively helping ethical businesses, socially conscious organizations and charities broaden their impact through effective communication services, Gillian Christie has been helping organizations make peace profitable. The agency’s non-profit arm, Christie CommUnity Foundation, helps businesses partner with developing nations to facilitate growth, health and economic prosperity in communities such as Sudan, Sri Lanka and Rwanda. www.christiecomm.com
Septima Clark (1898-1987)
Educator, Civil Rights Activist
Believing literacy to be the key to social and political power, Septima Clark trained teachers to work in citizenship schools across the south, teaching basic skills and empowering southern blacks to stand up for their rights as Americans. As an executive staff member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Clark took the SCLS’s voter-registration and teacher-training programs into the deep south and registered thousands of new voters.
Mary Cleave (
Environmental Engineer and Astronaut
New York District of Columbia
Dr. Cleave was a mission specialist at NASA and flew on space flights in 1985 and 1989. Her extensive research is in the field of soil and water pollution with a special focus on the need for minimum river flow to help maintain certain game fish. She served as NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission and also managed NASA’s Ocean Color Satellite Program in Washington, DC.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (
b. 1947 )
Secretary of State
New York USA
While serving in the United States Senate, Senator Clinton worked to secure federal legislation to protect the environment both on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and as the senior Democrat on the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water subcommittee. She co-sponsored the Petroleum Consumer Price Gouging Protection Act and Close the Enron Loophole Act to enable the President to declare an energy emergency and trigger federal gouging protections. http://www.ontheissues.org/hillary_clinton.htm#Environment
Mignon Leticia Clyburn (b. 1962)
South Carolina Public Service Commissioner (6 th District)
Mignon Clyburn was elected and presently serves as Commissioner of the South Carolina Public Service Commission since 1998. In 2002, she was elected as Chair of the Commission. Prior to her role at the Commission, Ms. Clyburn served as editor, publisher, and general manager of the Coastal Times Newspaper. She is very active in both Richland and Charleston county communities.
Alice Coachman (1923-)
Coachman won her first Amateur Athletic Union national championship in the high jump in 1939. By 1946, she held national track and field championships in 50 and 100 meter dashes, 400 meter relay, and running high jump. Coachman was the first black woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics when she won in the high jump in London in 1948. Coachman entered the Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975. Retired from competition, she coaches many young athletes.
Jacqueline Cochran (1910-1980)
World Renowned Pilot
Cochran began flying in 1932. She began competing in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1935 and won it in 1938. In 1941, she was a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary. Returning to America, she became the director of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. In 1945, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1953, Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier. Cochran received more than 200 awards as a pilot.
Ellie M. Cohen
Ellie M. Cohen, Executive Director of PRBO Conservation Science (founded as Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory) has over 30 years of non-profit and for-profit management, fundraising, and policy expertise. Ms. Cohen brings her perspective as a scientist and public policy advisor to the topic of climate change. PRBO is an award winning center for bird ecology research advancing biodiversity conservation on land and at sea. www.prbo.org
Bessie Coleman (1896-1926)
Coleman, denied admission to American aviation schools, learned French and went to Europe where she took lessons from French and German aviators and learned to fly the German Fokker plane. In 1922, she earned an international pilot’s license and became the first licensed black woman pilot. She became a stunt flyer where she thrilled observers and earned the title, "Brave Bessie." She founded a black aviation school and lectured at African-American schools.
Madie Collins ( b.1950s)
Founder of P.A.W. Animal Sanctuary
In 2003, Madi gave up her corporate job in New York to return to her native community of Caye Caulker, Belize in 2003. Beginning with caring for one, sickly, abandoned cat, Ms. Collins became determined to help all the island’s cats. Facing mountains of obstacles, lack of funds, and opposition from people, she was able to accomplish her dream of establishing a cat sanctuary. www.pawanimalsanctuarybelize.com
Jill Ker Conway (1934-)
Educator, Writer, Historian
Conway earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1969 where she studied the intellectual experiences of earlier American women. She was the first woman president of Smith College, serving from 1975 to 1985. Realizing the need for equality in pay and opportunity for women, she set up a research project, Women and Social Change. In addition to writing the histories of many American women, Conway has also written three autobiographical books.
Mary S. "Mimi" Cooper (b. 1943)
Teacher and Environmental Activist
Mary S. "Mimi" Cooper is an activist with a burning desire for positive change who has acted as an "environmental conscience" in many situations. She helped start a Baltimore hazardous waste day, is a director of Rachel Carson Council, was on the National Conservation Committee of the Garden Club of America, and has taught at the Irvine Nature Center.
United States China
Betsy Damon, an environmental artist and activist focusing on water, is a practical visionary and founder of Keepers of the Waters (in1991) which supports collaborations between artists, scientists, and citizens to restore, preserve, and remediate their water sources. The Living Water Garden ( Chengdu) and the Olympic Forest Park ( Beijing) are two of her most well known projects. http://www.keepersofthewaters.org/_ http://ecocity.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/featured-presenter-betsy-damon/
Dr. Margaret Bryan Davis ( b.1931)
Margaret Davis was named Regents Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology at the University of Minnesota in 1983. Her groundbreaking study of the history of the migration of forest communities during the past 14,000 years has significant implications on various theories of global warning. Her memberships include the National Academy of Sciences and the International Association for Vegetation Science.
Dorothy Day (1897–1980)
Co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933, Day dedicated her life to improving living conditions for the poor. She developed new ways of combating social ills, including the "direct mutual aid" concept, teaching the poor to help one another. Writer, suffragist, speaker, activist and publisher, Day aided conscientious objectors in World War II, demonstrated against the Vietnam war and supported the organizing efforts of farm workers in California.
Ada Deer (1935-)
American Indian and Civil Rights Activist
Deer was the first member of the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned an MS in Social Work from Columbia. Deer led her tribe in gaining passage of the Menominee Restoration Act, which restored their land and treaty rights as American Indians. At the national level, Deer became Deputy of Indian Affairs and is now the Director of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Dickinson attended Amherst Academy and spent one year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. She returned to her home in 1848 and rarely traveled. She probably began writing poetry in the 1860s. Her correspondent, Thomas Higginson, counseled her against publication, but her school mate and lifelong friend Helen Hunt Jackson encouraged Dickinson to allow a few to be published in the 1870s. After her death, 1,775 pieces were found and published.
Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)
Dix started helping the mentally ill and prisoners when she visited the East Cambridge jail for women inmates in 1841. She saw the horrible conditions in the jail where mental patients and prisoners were thrown together in filth, some chained or kept in cages. She documented conditions there and in many states, persuaded legislatures across the nation to build more than 100 mental hospitals in the next 50 years and suggested many reforms in jails.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas ( 1890 – 1998 )
Marjory Stoneman Douglas distinguished literary career encompassed her work as a true naturalist, discouraging the ever growing commercial development in South Florida. In 1947, she published one of the best known conservation books to date, "The Everglades: River of Gras.s" Her successful preservation campaign resulted in the establishment the Everglades National Park and in 1969 she helped found the conservation organization, Friends of the Everglades.
Caitlin Alexandra Dunbar (
1989 –2004 )
Caitlin Dunbar’s lifelong interest in nature and the outdoors lives on in the Caitlin Dunbar Girl Scout nature center established in her name by family, friends, and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland following her sudden death from leukemia at age 15. This nature center offer stewardship activities on rescued wildlife and “hands on” environmental opportunities for Scouts and visitors to enjoy and appreciate.
Virginia Foster Durr (1903-1999)
Civil Rights Activist and Author
Virginia Foster Durr was born near Birmingham in 1903, her long life bridged the post-Civil War era to the American Civil Rights Movement. The granddaughter of a former slave holder, she became an ostracized anti-racist convert. Her amazing life of determined tenacity testifies to the ability of an individual to be transformed by observation, experience, and basic sense of right and wrong from an unquestioning racist to a courageous activist, organizer, and leader for social justice.
Kathleen Eagan (
Mayor, Community Activist, Funder
Kathleen Eagan founded four organizations to protect the Truckee River in Truckee. She fought powerful state and federal interests who tried to destroy the flow of the River. One of her colleagues commented, “they never had a chance.” She has led the restoration of hundreds of acres of meadow, wetland and stream habitat. Kathleen’s work demonstrates the power of each of us protecting the place we love. “If we don’t, who else will?”
Amelia Earhart (1897–1937)
Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. She was the first person to fly solo non-stop from Hawaii to California in 1935 and the first to fly solo round-trip from the U.S. to Mexico. Five years later, after a dazzling array of “firsts,” Earhart disappeared attempting the first ‘round-the-world flight along the equator. Her adventurous life encouraged many to believe that women were capable of anything they could imagine.
Sylvia Alice Earle (b.1935)
Oceanographer and Environmentalist
New Jersey Alaska Hawaii
Sylvia Earle was the first woman chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She led the investigations of the impact of the burning of Kuwait’s oil fields and the devastation caused by the Exxon Vladez in Prince William Sound in Alaska. With a group of other women scientists she lived underwater for 2 weeks to study marine environment and the effects of isolation on humans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Earle
Sister Claretta Easter ( 1901-1998 )
Science and Ecology Teacher
Sister Claretta taught at various Catholic elementary and high schools. She was instrumental in the formation of the Department of Outdoor Education in Grant County, Wisconsin. The mapping out of nature trails and their naming and signing were evidence of her interest in education. A registered certified tree farmer, she planned and first planted a tree farm in 1971. Contact Susan Scott at email@example.com for additional information about Sister Claretta Easter.
Elizabeth Eckford (1942-)
Eckford was one of nine students selected to integrate Little Rock, Arkansas high school in 1957. Integration plans were postponed at the last minute, but Eckford did not get the message. She arrived alone and was taunted, jeered, and accosted. Photographs of her grace under pressure captured her agony and became an international symbol of the oppression of black students. After weeks of mob violence, Federal troops finally escorted the students on Sept. 25.
Marian Wright Edelman (1939-)
Children Rights Advocate, Civil Rights Activist
From her earliest years, Edelman was encouraged to give hope and aid to others. As a lawyer, civil rights activist, and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, she has provided a strong authoritative voice for those who have been denied the power to speak for themselves. For almost 40 years, she has advocated for quality health care, immunizations, nutritious food, and educational opportunities, providing hope and possibility to countless numbers.
Gertrude B. Elion (1918-1999)
Nobel Prize Biologist
Elion shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine for pioneering work in inventing drugs to help in successful organ transplants, and others to counter acute leukemia, kidney disease and arthritis. They focused their research on the genetic differences between healthy and diseased cells. As scientist emeritus, Elion was named research professor of medicine at Duke University. In 1991, Elion became the first woman inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame.
Drew Gilpin Faust
First Woman President of Harvard University
The selection of Drew Gilpin Faust to be the twenty-eighth president of Harvard University has been headlined as "a historic first" by the Christian Science Monitor.It is indeed a fitting reward and recognition of Dr. Faust's scholarship and leadership by this prestigious institution founded in 1636, the first university in America. Its strict male-only environment broke in 1919 when it accepted the first woman faculty member. Harvard began admitting women to graduate programs in the 1940s, although it did not admit women to its undergraduate program until 1973. The irony is that Harvard has been aided by generous grants from women since its inception. In 1641 Anne Radcliffe, later Lady Mowlson, bequeathed 100 pounds sterling to establish the first scholarship for poor boys. Eleanor Elkins Widener contributed $3.5 millions for the Widener Library, but women could not use this fine building and its books until the end of the 1940s. Now committees have been formed to determine how to achieve parity. Click here for more.
Ilia J. Fehrer ( 1927 – 2007 )
Ilia Fehrer was one of the strongest pro-preservation voices in Maryland, heard not only when Assateague Isalnd’s future was in question but also when ecosystems beyond her own coastal bays were threatened. It is because of her vision, advocacy and tenacity that we can and future generations will enjoy the Assateaque Island National Seashore almost as our European ancestors found it.
Laura Capon Fermi ( 1907-1977 )
Science Author and Community Activist
Laura Capon Fermi joined with other women to form the Cleaner Air Committee of Hyde-Park Kenwood ( CAC), near the University of Chicago. From 1959 to 1972, the CAC lobbied and educated the public about the dangers of pollution from coal-burning furnaces and cars. The results were local building shifting from coal to cleaner gas or oil furnaces and a ban on the burning garbage in apartment buildings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Fermi
Caroline Rose Foster ( 1877 – 1977 )
Farmer; First County Deputy Sheriff; Community Organizer; Benefactor
Caroline Rose Foster created and donated the first outdoor living historical farm in New Jersey, which remains a strong place for learning thirty-years after her death. An environmentalist, she worked to preserve the historic places within the County of Morris, New Jersey including the Morris County Park Commission which preserves 38 county parks and over 17,500 acres of land in northern New Jersey.
Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen ( 1888 – 1969 )
Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen, was a philanthropist of the New England Conservatory of Music and a supporter of the Masterworks Chorus. She donated the land for the establishment of the Morris County Free Library. She donated her Whippany Farm Estate of 127 acres so that future generations would be able to enjoy and appreciate the beauty that surrounded what she considered the ‘golden age.’ www.morrisparks.net
Pamela A. Frucci ( b. 1932 )
Retired Teacher, Community Activist, Township Trustee
Pamela A. Frucci has been a waste-not addict since reading Cheaper by the Dozen_as a teenager and marveling how the efficiency-expert father cut down on waste. She served on the Michigan Resource Recovery Commission before waste reduction and recycling caught on. In 1983 she founded the Downriver Recycling Center. The Fruccis put out almost zero trash and recycle the rest, even recycling lint into pillows.
Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826—1898)
Women’s Rights Activist, Theorist, and Historian
Matilda Joslyn Gage was a 19th century suffragist, historian of women, newspaper editor, author and lecturer, woman's rights activist and theorist, advocate for civil rights, and abolitionist, who served as a top officer in the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) for twenty years. A committed abolitionist who opened her home as a stop on the Underground Railroad, she challenged the laws of her nation, risking arrest and imprisonment by helping fugitive slaves escape to freedom. Gage wrote about the superior position of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women and supported treaty rights and Native sovereignty. Influenced by the Haudenosaunee egalitarian culture, she in turn influenced the utopian feminist vision of her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, in his fourteen Oz books.
Felisa Rincon de Gautier (1897-1994)
Gautier began her political activism campaigning for woman suffrage in Puerto Rica which was won in 1932. She joined the Popular Democratic Party and in 1940 was president of its San Juan committee. From 1948 to 1968, she was mayor of San Juan. In her open government, many schools, daycare, and health centers were built. She was on the National Committee of the United States Democratic Party and was a delegate to the national conventions until 1992.
Lois Marie Gibbs ( b.1951 )
Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment & Justice
In 1978, a young housewife named Lois Gibbs discovered that her child’s elementary school was built on top of a toxic-chemical dump. Determined to do something, she organized her neighbors into the Love Canal Homeowners Association, which worked for more than 2 years to have the community relocated. In 1981, Lois created the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, (CHEJ), an organization that has assisted over 10,000 grassroots movements. www.chej.org
Althea Gibson (1927-2003)
Gibson was the first black tennis player to win at Wimbledon, 1957 and 1958; the Associated Press named her Woman Athlete of the Year for 1958. She had dominated women’s amateur tennis from 1947–1957, and in 1950, she was the first black woman to play in a major U.S. tournament. Gibson also played professional golf from 1963–1967. Gibson was the first black woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Lillian Gilbreth (1878- 1972)
Gilbreth and her husband Frank pioneered industrial management techniques; as a widow, she applied these time and motion studies to home management and to assisting handicapped people at home and in the workplace. From 1935 to 1948, she was a professor of management at Purdue University and consultant on careers for women, creating a more realistic attitude toward the place of women in industry.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933- )
Supreme Court Justice
Ginsburg became the second woman justice on the Supreme Court when she was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed in 1993. She graduated from Harvard and then Columbia Law School. At Harvard, she was editor of the Harvard Law Review. She argued the first sex-bias case before the Supreme Court and won 5 of the 6 cases which she argued dealing with unequal or unfair treatment of women.
Mary Katherine Goddard (1738- 1816)
Printer of the Declaration of Independence
Goddard and her mother published the Providence Gazette from 1765 to 1768. In 1774, she moved to Baltimore to help her brother with the Maryland Journal, Baltimore’s first newspaper; she became publisher in 1775. In January 1777, she printed the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signers. She became postmaster of Baltimore in 1775, an office she held for 14 year. She was removed from her position because she was a woman.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940)
Social Reformer, Anarchist
Goldman immigrated to the United States in 1885. She lectured and wrote about the dreadful working and living conditions of poor people. In 1893, she was jailed for inciting unemployed workers to riot. As a drama critic she helped introduce Ibsen, Shaw, Strindberg and others to American audiences. In 1917, she was jailed for two years for agitating against military conscription and then deported. In Europe, she continued to write and lecture for civil rights.
Jane Goodall ( b.1934 )
Wildlife Researcher, Educator , and Conservationist.
Great Britain Africa USA
A young Jane Goodall went to Africa to study chimpanzees and soon became their leading crusader. Her research work expanded to include numerous conservation efforts in Africa and worldwide. Her global nonprofit Institute empowers people to make a difference for all living things, by creating healthy ecosystems, promoting sustainable livelihoods and nurturing new generations of committed, active citizens. www.janegoodall.org
Amy Goodman ( b. 1957 )
As a journalist for Democracy Now Amy Goodman has interviewed leaders throughout the world about the pressing issues of war and peace as well as global warming and its related impact. Coverage of war and peace as well as human rights movements have caused her to brave some of the most intense world crises. Her goal as a journalist is inform her audience about the threats to the planet.
Sunshine Goodmorning ( b. 1974 )
Facilities Maintenance Specialist
Sunshine works for the Washington DC National Park Service Maintenance Office from her home. While at Yosemite National Park, she served as chair of the EEO Committee during which she presented an outdoor showing of “Iron Jawed Angels” with a picnic dinner. El Portal is where she remodeled a historical building and chaired the 100th community celebration.
Katharine Graham (1917-2001)
Graham was the first woman president of a Fortune 500 company when she became president and then publisher of the Washington Post from 1963 to 1979. In 1971, she resisted tremendous pressure and threats when she printed the Pentagon Papers. In 1972, she supported the aggressive investigation of the Watergate burglary. The Post received a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1973. Her autobiography Personal History won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998.
Martha Graham (1894-1991)
The foremost innovator in modern dance, Martha Graham’s 50-year dancing career began in 1920. She founded the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in 1929 and later, dance companies in Israel and London. Her dances covered many themes, including Greek myths, biblical stories, lives of Joan of Arc and Emily Dickinson. In 1973, she published The Notebooks of Martha Graham, and in 1976, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Ford.
Martha Wright Griffiths (1912—2003)
Congresswoman Who Successfully Added Sex as a Protected Class in the
1964 Civil Rights Act
Martha Wright Griffiths was born on January 29, 1912 in Pierce City, Missouri. As a young woman, she was inspired by the activism and leadership of her paternal grandmother, Jeanette Hinds Wright, a leading advocate for woman suffrage in Pierce City. She was a champion debater in her public high school and continued on the debate team when she went to the University of Missouri. She went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated in 1940 along with her husband, Hick Griffiths (making them the first married couple to graduate from the law school).
Angelina Grimké (1805-1879) and Sarah Grimké (1792-1873)
Abolitionists and Women's Rights Advocates
The Grimké sisters, raised in a slave-holding South Carolina family, were among the first women to write and lecture against slavery. They wrote for the Liberator, and in 1836, Angelina published a pamphlet An Appeal to Christian Women of the South. Southern postmasters destroyed copies and a price was put on their heads. They stayed North. Even there, they were criticized for their boldness, but they led the way for other women to speak.
Juana Gutierrez (b. 1933)
Political Activist and Community Organizer
Juana Gutierrez began her political activism by knocking on her neighbors’ doors. It was the beginning of her work to take back her community from outside interests. To give the community a powerful and effective voice, she organized the Madres de Este Los Angeles (MELASI).
Rebecca S. Halstead (b.1959)
Commanding General, 3rd Corps Support Command, Wiesbaden, Germany
Rebecca Halstead enter the United States Military Academy in 1977. She was one of 104 women to enter in the second class that included women, which was made possible in 1975, when President Gerald Ford signed into legislation the opening for women applicants at all service academies.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977)
Civil Rights Activist
Hamer devoted 15 years to winning voting rights for blacks in the South. Despite beatings by the police, losing her job, and being forced from her home, Hamer continued organizing and demanding recognition and power in national politics for southern blacks. In 1964, she led the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation to the Democratic Convention, forcing a change in the representation of women and minorities within state delegations.
Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)
Occupational Safety and Health Pioneer
Hamilton was the first person to document the danger of industrial poisons like lead, phosphorus, and other chemicals in the work place. Her work at Hull House gave her the opportunity to fully investigate hazardous working conditions that led to accidents, deaths, and chronic illness. Her unprecedented work resulted in laws protecting workers and improving working conditions in this country and internationally. http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/biographies/hamilton-a.html
Harmony Hammond (b.1944)
Harmony Hammond is an artist, art writer, and independent curator. A pioneer of the feminist art movement, she lectures, writes and publishes on feminist art, lesbian art, and the cultural representation of “difference”. She co-founded A.I.R., the first women’s cooperative art gallery in New York, (1972). She has had over 30 solo exhibitions and her work has been shown internationally. Her ground-breaking book “Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History” (Rizzoli, 2000) received a Lambda Literary Award.
Ann Hancock ( b.1950 )
Executive Director of Climate Protection Campaign
With over 25 years in community leadership, education, and fundraising, Ann Hancock has spearhead the most progressive climate protection campaign in the US, resulting in a comprehensive Plan to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2015 throughout their county. In 2001, she co-founded the Climate Protection Campaign and has been a sustainability planner for the County of Marin.
Frances Watkins Harper (1825-1911)
Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author
Harper was born free in Baltimore, attended the Union Seminary in Ohio, and taught in Pennsylvania in 1852. Unable to return to Maryland because she could be captured and sold, she began antislavery lectures and published articles, poems and stories. Her 1859 story, The Two Offers, is probably the first short story by a black author. Fighting racism took priority over woman suffrage; in 1896, she helped found and lead the National Association of Colored Women.
La Donna Harris (1931-)
Indian Rights and Civil Activist
Harris, member of the Comanche tribe, has served since 1970 as president of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), a multi-tribal organization devoted to improving life for American Indians. She has served on the National Rural Housing Conference and the National Association of Mental Health. Harris has expanded the AIO to include the "American Indian Ambassadors" program, which provides one-year fellowships for Native American students.
Dorothy Height (1912-)
As president of the National Council of Negro Women since 1958, her leadership gained international stature for the organization. Height has worked with every president and civil rights leader for 60 years. Her more than 50 awards include the 1989 Citizens Medal Award for distinguished service to the country, the 1993 Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, and the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest award, in 2004, for her work in promoting AIDS education.
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984)
Playwright, Screenwriter, Author
Beginning with The Children’s Hour in 1934, Hellman’s award-winning plays presented powerful and bitter pictures of intolerance and exploitation. One of many Hollywood screenwriters who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee when asked about the politics of her friends and associates, Hellman was blacklisted from 1948 to the ‘60s. Her book, An Unfinished Woman, won a National Book Award in 1969.
Aileen Hernandez (b. 1926)
Union Organizer and Human Rights Activist
Aileen Hernandez’s commitment to world-wide justice has been fueled by traveling and meeting with women throughout the world to gain a global perspective on humanitarian issues. Currently, she chairs the California Women's Agenda (CAWA), a network of 600 organizations dedicated to implementing the plan of action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995.
Edna Hibel (b.1917)
Colorist, painter, stone lithographer, serigrapher, etcher, sculptress, and filmmaker
Edna Hibel was the youngest artist at the time to have a painting purchased by a major American museum for its permanent collection in 1940. Her thousands of followers know her sensitive portrayals of mothers and children from all cultures. She uses many media on a wide variety of surfaces. Internationally renowned, she is the only foreign artist to twice exhibit her work in the Soviet Union, and the only foreign woman to produce a television documentary in that country.
Anita Hill (1956-)
In 1991, Hill testified before an all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been harassed by US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Her testimony led to national awareness and the creation and implementation of new policies by businesses, educational institutions, and government to identify and stop sexual harassment. She has written a book, Speaking the Truth to Power. In 1997, she joined the faculty at Brandeis University.
Julia Butterfly Hill (
On December 10, 1997, 23-year-old Julia "Butterfly" Hill climbed into a 180 foot California Coast Redwood tree to prevent loggers from cutting it down. She put her own life on the line to save the life of a forest that was under immediate threat of destruction. She spent two years on that tree-top and attracted world-wide attention for her non-violent action in defense of the forest http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Butterfly_Hill
Linda M. Hiltabrand (b. 1953)
Environmental Protection Specialist, IL Department of Natural Resources, Office of Mines and Minerals
For 30 years Linda Hiltbrand has been employed by the Illinois Office of Mines and Minerals representing the state regulatory authority in northern Illinois. Her work with the sand and gravel producers to make sure they are following their approved reclamation plans has resulted in several sites winning awards for their innovative post-mining land uses.
Dolores Huerta (1930-)
Labor Union Administrator
In the 1950s, Huerta began teaching in a farm workers' community and saw the brutal poverty surrounding her students. In 1962, she co-founded with Ceasar Chavez the United Farm Workers Union. She organized the members and through non-violence tactics, mounted a successful boycott of California table grapes. Her goal in life is to empower farm workers with information and skills to help them secure better living and working conditions.
Mary Hultman ( b.1955 )
Serving as one of the first naturalists for the Stark County Park District in Ohio since 1986, Mary Hultman has been instrumental in educating thousands of local school children. She has pioneered the use of live wildlife in the classroom, and has mentored hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts. She also established the Sanders Wildlife Rehabilitation Center that treats more than 1,300 animals per year.
Martha Brookes Hutcheson ( 1871 – 1959 )
Martha Brookes Hutcheson was one of the first women landscape architects in America. She incorporated native plants in all of her designs and blended the surrounding areas with formally executed gardens. In 1923, she published The Spirit of the Garden, a book about gardens primarily using those she had designed to illustrate her principles of landscape architecture.
Dr. Roz Iasillo (b.1958)
Environmental Science Educator
Dr. Roz Iasillo developed the first environmental science class taught at the secondary level in Illinois. She has influenced and inspired thousands of her students to live sustainable lives and be good stewards of the earth’s resources by volunteering at community clean-up days, prairie seed collecting, and the yearly removal of non-native plants from local forest preserves. Her enthusiasm and commitment to our earth is boundless.
Jovita Idár (1885–1946)
Idár reported discrimination against Mexican children and the lynchings of Mexicans by Texas Rangers for her father’s newspaper, La Cronica. In 1911, she co-founded La Liga Femenil Mexicanista (The League of Mexican Women) and was its first president. The women formed free schools for Mexican children and provided necessities for the poor. During the Mexican Revolution, Idár organized La Cruz Blanca (the White Cross) to nurse the wounded on both sides.
Mayor of the City of Tampa
Mayor Iorio is committed to making tangible improvements during this decade that will protect our natural environment for future generations. The programs and services are designed to be economically viable, environmentally sound and socially equitable to become a green city. The opportunity to partner with all residents in making changes to ensure our city is ready to meet future challenges.
Barbara Haney Irvine (b.1944)
Founding President, Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, Inc.(now Alice Paul Institute)
Barbara Irvine is a national advocate for the recognition and preservation of women’s historic sites. Based on her work to save one woman’s site in New Jersey, Barbara learned that nationwide most historic resources associated with women were generally unrecognized and in jeopardy of being lost forever.She assumed a major role in calling attention to the plight of women’s sites and the interpretation of women’s history at historic sites throughout the United States.
Shirley Jackson (1946-)
In 1973, Jackson was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT. In 1991, she became a professor of physics at Rutgers University. President Clinton named her chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1995, where she helped set up the International Nuclear Regulators Association in 1997 to provide assistance to other nations on matters of nuclear safety. In 1999, she became president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Mae Jemison (1956-)
With a medical degree from Cornell University, Dr. Jemison spent three years as a Peace Corps Medical Officer in West Africa, and then worked in a refugee camp in Thailand. In 1992, now a NASA astronaut, she participated aboard Spacelab-J, the cooperative mission between the U.S. and Japan that conducted life science experiments in space. Jemison now pursues health care and science projects related to women and minorities.
Marietta Pierce Johnson (1864 1938)
Marietta Johnson was one of the early pioneers of progressive education. She was a charismatic speaker who lectured all over the world on her unique philosophy of Organic Education. Organic Education is dedicated to creating an environment that fosters freedom of expression, love for learning, and tolerance. In 1907, she founded her Organic School of Education in Fairhope, Alabama where she worked until her death in 1938. www.mariettajohnson.org
Victoria Johnston (b. 1953)
Victoria Johnston is the Project Facilitator for the Salmon Creek Falls Environmental Center in Occidental, California, which provides educational opportunities for students and the greater community fostering eco-sustainability. This innovative enterprise seeks to inspire a revolution in building design and teach environmental green principles. It will be the first building in Sonoma County and California public K-8 school to obtain a LEEDTM Platinum Certification.
Winona LaDuke (b.1960)
Author and Environmentalist
Winona LaDuke has worked for nearly three decades on the land issues of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota including litigation over land rights in the 1980's. She currently serves as the Director of Honor the Earth and Founding Director of White Earth Land Recovery Project.
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1830–1930)
"Mother" Jones became a labor organizer at the age of 50 and then led strikes in mines and publicized dangers of child labor in textile mills for the next 50 years. She traveled constantly without a permanent home. Jones lead miners' wives armed only with brooms and mops when they chased off Colorado strikebreakers. She lead a march of Pennsylvania child mill workers to President Roosevelt's home on Long Island to dramatize the evils of child labor.
Elizabeth Donnell Kay (1895-1987)
Nurse, Businesswomen, Charity Worker, Environmentalist
New Jersey Florida
In 1924, Elizabeth Donnell Kay, started a home-based herb mail-order business. By 1932, she was teaching about the importance of preserving native plants and educating farmers about the harmful practice of setting fire to their fields each year after harvest. In 1960, Elizabeth and her husband created the Pine Jog Environmental Sciences Center, which today under the auspices of Florida Atlantic University, 16,000 children visit annually .http://www.historicchesternj.com/peopleplaces/miscellaneouspeople.html
Helen Keller (1880–1968)
Advocate for Disadvantaged
Despite being deaf, blind, and unable to speak, Keller became an active writer and international public speaker. She learned to communicate in 1887 with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. In 1904, she became the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree. Her books and lectures advocating rights for disabled people helped the public recognize the potentials of people with physical limitations. She also supported suffrage for women and peace.
Billie Jean King (1943-)
Tennis Star and Women's Rights Advocate
The most successful woman in professional tennis, King was top-ranked five times and was in the top ten for 17 years. She was the first woman athlete to earn $100,000 a year, the holder of the most Wimbledon titles, as well as the first woman to coach a professional team. She has aggressively fought for equality for women athletes, for honest professionalism in tennis, and for implementation of Title IX in all sports.
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
Civil Rights Activist
King graduated from Antioch College in music and gave concert programs in the 1940s. In 1962, King was a delegate to Women Strike for Peace conference in Geneva. Now she continues the civil rights work of her husband. She is the founding president of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. In the 1980s, she led demonstrations against South African apartheid system. In 1969, she wrote a book titled My Life With Martin Luther King Jr.
Maxine Hong Kingston (1940-)
Kingston’s childhood in California was filled with Chinese traditions and stories, which sometimes conflicted with the "American" ideas she was learning in school. Her first book, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction in 1976. It was followed by two equally fine books which also celebrate the heritage and contributions of Chinese-American people.
Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima (1919-2006)
Civil Rights Activist
For a decade, Kitashima was a leader in the successful movement to win reparations for Japanese-Americans who had lost their homes and possessions and were forced to live in internment camps during WWII. After years of pressure from Kitashima and other activists, in 1989 Congress passed the Entitlement Bill, providing $20,000 to each surviving internee and an official apology for the internment.
Eryn Klosko (b.1971)
Assistant Professor, Physical Sciences
New York USA
Eryn Klosko teaches the science of global warming and sustainability. She spearheaded Westchester Community College’s participation in Focus the Nation in 2008. She has published extensively for New York Science Teacher, Computers and GeoScience, and Geophysical Research Letters and has worked for the SCEC E-cubed project. She also advises a club of students engaged in sustainability efforts.
Yuri Kochiyama ( 1922-)
Civil Rights Advocate
Born in California, Kochiyama was interned in a Japanese relocation center during WW II. After her release, she and her family moved to New York City where she took part in civil rights demonstrations. She met Malcolm X in 1963; they worked together to call attention to the struggle of oppressed people. Kochiyama founded Asian Americans for Action to link liberation efforts of blacks and Asian Americans by bringing down barriers and building bridges.
Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995)
Activist for Senior Citizens
In 1970, Kuhn founded the Gray Panthers to fight ageism, encouraging old and young people to work together. Kuhn was an outspoken advocate of rights for older people, showing that old people are strong, vibrant, and intelligent. Through the Gray Panthers, she sought improved health care, housing, and economic well-being for senior citizens. She wrote three books and worked internationally to promote a better understanding of human aging.
Anne Bowes La Bastille (b.1938)
Ecologist Anne LaBastille studied a flightless bird, the great pied-billed grebe, which survived in spite of living in a wildlife refuge, earthquakes, and polluted streams likely to make the species extinct. In the early 1970s Dr. La Bastille moved to a cabin in New York’s Adirondacks. Her solitary life led her to write Woodswoman. In 1980, she profiled 15 women naturalists in Women andWilderness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_LaBastille.
Osprey Orielle Lake (b.1959)
Sculptor, Public Speaker, Teacher
Osprey Orielle Lake, one of the world’s few female monument makers working in allegorical and abstract images. She utilizes the power and beauty of nature-themed images and narratives to inspire people to learn about and care for the earth. Her international art projects bring attention to protecting the environment by enlivening the urban landscape with statues that celebrate nature. http://www.ospreyoriellelake.com/Welcome.html http://www.cheemahproject.org/
Abbe Land (b.1955)
Mayor Pro Tempore City of West Hollywood
Abbe Land, California, has initiated several of West Hollywood’s landmark environmental policies, including its Green Building Ordinance, the nation’s first mandatory program for commercial and residential buildings. Because of her efforts, the City’s new library will be a certified LEED Silver building. She co-sponsored a Heritage Tree Preservation Program to protect the City’s trees and increase its urban canopy. www.weho.org http://www.weho.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/detail/navid/16/cid/4252/
Marian Van Landingham (b. 1937)
Artist and Community Leader
Marion Van Landingham, with her belief that artistic expression is central to the health of a community, convinced the City of Alexandria, Virginia, to support her vision of an innovative partnership between the city and 185 artists. Her plan created the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which now serves as the anchor of Alexandria’s revitalized waterfront and a beacon of culture and community.
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
Lange photographed bread lines in the depression years, living conditions of migrant workers in California in the 1930s, and documented the treatment of Japanese-Americans in WWII in the crowded internment camps. These powerful photographic images brought public attention to the inhumane conditions. "If any documents of this turbulent age are justified to endure," Ansel Adams wrote, "he photographs of Dorothea Lange shall, most certainly."
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
Lazarus is best known for her sonnet The New Colossus which is inscribed on the base of the Stature of Liberty. She also published several volumes of poetry and novels. After the Russian pogroms of the 1880s, Lazarus became a spokeswoman for Judaism and was an early advocate of a national Jewish homeland in Palestine. She played a central part in setting up the Hebrew Technical Institute to aid the newly arrived Russian Jews in New York.
Brownie Ledbetter (b. 1932)
Civil Rights Advocate and Activist Working for Equal Opportunity for All People
In Brownie Ledbetter’s life, we see a lifetime of dedication to making the world a better place. Her impact on a fair education for all is indelible. In response to the racial crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, Brownie worked across racial lines to elect school board members one of the founding members of the Panel of American Women in Arkansas, in 1963. The Panel was composed of women of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, mothers of public school students who spoke to school, church and civic groups about their experiences and their commitment to diversity. In 1981 the Panel of American Women evolved into the Arkansas Public Policy Panel that organized and assisted grassroots groups, eventually founding the Arkansas Citizens Congress and Brownie Ledbetter served as founder and executive director for 20 years. Ledbetter founded the Arkansas Fairness Council, a coalition of education, labor, civil rights and women’s organizations advocating for fair taxes in 1983 and served as president and lobbyist of the Council for 15 years.
Lora Ledermann (
Advertising, Marketing and PR Agency Owner and Creative Director
Lora Ledermann acts on her commitment to protecting the environment through business
practices such as aggressive recycling programs and efforts to reduce waste
and is contributing her professional skills by taking on pro-bono clients
such as the one-year Save the Poles expedition to the North and South poles
and Mount Everest to raise awareness of global warming and develop
www.screamagency.com and http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/b97/904
Lihua Lei (b. 1966)
Lihua Lei is one of the few artists with disability who have gone beyond the picture plane, breaking through to innovative installation and multimedia that is reflective of her life experiences. Her sculpture art has allowed her to do the installation pieces she conceives, since Installation Art does not generate much revenue. In recent years, she has created installations about breast cancer, her own affliction with polio, and her reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Gerda Lerner (1920-)
Lerner is the foremost historian in defining the scope and importance of women’s history. The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina (1967) was the first of her ten authoritative books on women's history topics. Lerner has been insistent that theory and practice, consciousness and action, must dynamically inform each other. At the pinnacle of her career, Lerner's two-volume Women in History (1986, 1993) mapped the origins and persistence of patriarchy and the resistance to it that we now call feminism.
Tania Léon (1943-)
Composer and Conductor
Leon, born in Cuba, immigrated to New York in 1967, and continued her work of performing, directing, conducting and composing music. She directed and conducted the Broadway musical The Wiz and Dance in America for public television. In 1993, Leon was a composer for the New York Philharmonic, using gospel, jazz, Latin and African elements in her music. In 1994, Leon started the Sounds of the Americas festival. Her opera Scourge of Hyacinths premiered in 1994 and won Best Composition prize at Munich.
Donna Lewis (b.1972)
Curator of Biology, Dayton Society of Natural History
As a life-long environmental educator, Donna Lewis has dedicated her personal and professional life to creating an understanding of all animals. In addition to innovative public programs, her children’s books focus on introducing animals that tend to be under-appreciated, like bats and crows. As an active wildlife rehabilitator, Lewis has also traveled locally and globally in her efforts to educate others and rescue injured wildlife.
Suzanne Lewis (b.1956)
First Woman Superintendent in the History of Yellowstone National Park
Suzanne Lewis, becoming the first female Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park on February 10, 2002, testified to a 21st century change in the culture of the National Park Service. There had been a time when women in the National Park Service (NPS) including pioneer rangers, superintendents, and maintenance workers had to fight to win the right to wear the traditional Stetson hat and the gray and green uniform that conferred full authority on their positions in the eyes of the public. Today, the culture of the organization is visibly changed. NPS visitors now hear presentations that incorporate women’s roles in their exhibits and talks. One-third of the fifteen thousand Park Service employees are women and twenty percent of the women represent minorities. Clearly, Lewis is a important representative of a generation of women who are moving history forward.
Queen Lili'uokalani (1838–1917)
The last reigning monarch of Hawaii, Lili'uokalani inherited a difficult situation in 1891. Foreigners forced through a new constitution which took away voting rights from most Hawaiians. A revolution, encouraged by the American government, forced Lili'uokalani to abdicate in 1893 and in 1889, the Hawaiian Islands were annexed by the United States. Among her legacies are over 200 songs she composed, including the very popular Aloha Oe.
Maya Lin (1959-)
Lin wrote, "Sculpture is like poetry, architecture is like prose." As a Yale student in 1981, Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unanimously chosen from 14,241 models. Her Wall design is acclaimed as one of the greatest war memorials ever created. Among other designs, Lin created the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama and the Langston Hughes Library in Tennessee. In 2000, her book Boundaries was published.
Belva Lockwood (1830-1917)
Lawyer, Women's Rights Activist
Lockwood graduated from the National University Law School in Washington, D.C. in 1873. In 1879, she was the first woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court where, in 1900, she argued and won $5 million for the Eastern Cherokee Indians. She ran for president in 1884 and 1888 as the National Equal Rights Party candidate. Lockwood joined the Universal Peace Union, and in 1889 was a delegate to the International Peace Congress.
Maria Lopez de Hernandez (1896-1986)
Civil Rights Activist
Lopez de Hernandez worked for the improvement of civic, educational, and economic opportunity for the Mexican-American community. In 1929, she co-founded the Orden Caballeros of America, a civic and civil rights organization. She protested and wrote against the segregated and inferior education Mexican American children received. In 1970, she played a large role in the development of the Raza Unida Party to gain power through politics.
Susan Love (1948-)
Women's Health and Breast Cancer Research Expert
A founder of the breast cancer advocacy movement, Dr. Love co-founded the National Breast Cancer Coalition which includes more than 200 organizations and thousands of members devoted to gathering input from breast cancer advocates as well as obtaining federal funding for research. As a surgeon and author, Love encourages physicians to listen more closely to their patients.
Founder and President of Natural Capitalism
Hunter Lovins has worked diligently for decades to develop solutions that would help human beings maintain and sustain the environment in which we live. Hunter has proposed that…“Citizens, communities, and companies, working together within the market context are the most dynamic problem-solving force on the planet”. She is Time Magazine’s millennium “ Hero of the Planet”.
Juliette Low (1860-1927)
Founder of Girl Scouts USA
Low admired the work done by the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in England which enrolled children of many backgrounds including the disabled. In 1912, Low founded similar groups in Georgia, and in 1915, the official title of Girl Scouts of America was adopted with Low president. By 1927, there were troops in every state with goals of helping girls learn to be resourceful, skillful, and independent. Low's birthday, October 31, is celebrated as Scouts Founder's Day.
Dr. Meg Lowman
Forest Conservation Biologist/Science Educator
Pioneer of treetop exploration, Lowman is affectionately called “Grandmother of canopy research” by colleagues. Author of 100 publications, 6 books including both definitive texts and she has chaired three international canopy conferences. She has also “starred” on National Geographic television; runs a foundation for tropical forest conservation; and has mentored over 10 million students via distance learning. “No child left indoors” is her personal mantra. www.canopymeg.com; www.treefoundation.org
Mary Lyon (1797-1849)
Founder, Mount Holyoke College
Seeing the need for better education for women, Lyon devised plans for an endowed seminary for women combining high academic standards and work to keep tuition low. She raised the first $1000; South Hadley promised $8000. A new four-story building housed the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary that opened in November, 1837 with 80 students and continued to grow in size, curriculum and enrollment. Lyon was principal for 12 years.
Joanna Macy (b. 1929)
Eco-philosopher and Writer, Scholar of Buddhism, General Systems Theory, and Deep Ecology
Joanna Macy has created a ground-breaking theoretical framework for personal and social change. She has written many books and led workshops for thousands of people around the world. Her “Work that Reconnects” brings a new way of seeing the world, helping to transform despair and apathy, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, into constructive, collaborative action.
Wilma Mankiller (1945-)
American Indian, Civil Rights Activist
Mankiller lived in San Francisco in 1969 when she and friends from the Indian Center successfully occupied Alcatraz and brought national attention to the needs of Indians. She returned to Oklahoma and became deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1983. She was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1985, the first woman to be elected to this position. Mankiller served for 10 years and in 1991, she won with 82% of the vote.
Sonia Manzano (1950-)
Manzano appeared in the original Broadway production of Godspell in New York. In 1972, she played the shopkeeper in the children’s TV show, Sesame Street. Manzano also wrote for the show. She has won seven Emmy Awards for her work. She was also nominated for an Emmy for Best Performer in a Children’s Program. Manzano has also appeared in other plays including The Living Room.
Cindy Marano (1947-2005)
Economic Justice Activist and Public Policy Visionary
Cindy Marano worked for 35 years to build a vision of economic equity for women and low-income workers. A brilliant strategic thinker, Marano focused on public policy issues, built legislative and government support, and engaged a network of national, state, and local organizations to help women and low-income workers fulfill their dreams. Many of her policies were adopted into federal law.
Judy Kellogg Markowsky (
Environmental Educator and Activist
Judy Kellogg Markowsky, environmental educator and advocate, was the primary force in founding Maine Audubon Society's Fields Pond Nature Center and “green” facility. Thousands of students have benefited from her "Secrets of the Forest" programs. A Rachel Carson devotee, she speaks frequently about Carson. She led a successful opposition to Walmart’s building near Penjajawoc Marsh, a unique wetland in Bangor. http://www.maineaudubon.org/explore/centers/fpond.shtml
Maria Montoya Martinez (1887–1980)
Martinez lived in the small, ancient Tewa Indian village of San Ildefonso, New Mexico, where she learned the traditional Pueblo way of making coiled pottery from her aunt, Tia Nicolasa. She and her husband rediscovered the ancient techniques of firing polychrome and black-on-black pottery. These fine designs are highly praised today, and this blend of the old and new has helped produce economic self-sufficiency for the Indian village.
Vilma Martinez (1943-)
Civil Rights Attorney and Lawyer
Martinez graduated from Columbia University with a law degree in 1967. Knowing discrimination herself as a Latina, she has worked to ensure that the rights of traditionally underrepresented people are respected. Martinez was president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) from 1973–1982, building it into a powerful civil rights organization with regional offices. For a decade, she was a regent of the University of California.
Sharon Rose Matola (
Maryland Florida International
Sharon Matola worked in Belize where she became the prime mover in arousing consciousness of citizens and the Belize government to the fears of extinction of the country’s wildlife and removal of wilderness areas. In 1991, she was founder and director of the Belize Zoo, which uses the zoo’s wildlife preservation area to save at least 4 tapir species which faced extinction.
Barbara McClintock (1902–1992)
Nobel Prize Scientist
A genetic scientist, McClintock won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her 1951 discovery of "jumping genes." While studying maize, or Indian corn, McClintock found that some genes move around rather than remaining stationary as previously thought. She became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944 and received the National Medal of Science in 1970. McClintock is regarded as one of the most influential geneticists of the twentieth century.
Mary Eliza McDowell (
Mary Eliza McDowell was known as “The Duchess of Bubbly Creek” for leading the efforts to clean up the South Branch of the Chicago River, a stinking and unsanitary waterway into which was dumped animal waste and carcasses from the nearby slaughterhouses. From 1894 to 1923, she led the University of Chicago Settlement House and pressed the city government build incinerators in place of open garbage dumps. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/wtulwomen/p/mary_mcdowell.htm
Rose Marie Williams McGuire (
Artist Educator Poet & Illustrator
Rose Marie Williams McGuire as artist, educator, poet, and illustrator has worked in several mediums for fifty-four years teaching the spectrum of ages. Her sculptures and printed works reflect the recycled objects in everyday use. Found Objects is the central them of her art, which is on exhibit in THE PETTIE HOUSE GALLERY in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Jeannie McLain (b. 1960)
Research Microbial Ecologist
A research microbiologist at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Jeannie works to develop methods to increase the safety and efficiency of using recycled water to replenish dwindling water supplies throughout the world. She works with local and regional community organizations to increase public confidence in recycled water, and provides yearly internships to young women interested in research careers in environmental science. http://www.ars.usda.gov/pandp/people/people.htm?personid=33819
Margaret Mead (1901–1978)
Mead received a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1929 after studying families in Samoa, New Guinea and other cultures, concluding there is no "natural" assignment of gender roles. She also investigated many western cultures and wrote books about the changing roles of women and men. She wrote over 30 books and hundreds of articles and pamphlets. In 1979, Mead was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to scientific research.
Donella (Dana) Meadows (1941-2001)
Scientist (Biophysicist) Author, Leader in the Sustainability Movement
Donella Meadows pioneered research regarding the human impact on the global ecosystem-examining trends in population, environment, and economics. As lead author of “Limits To Growth”, she stirred worldwide thinking and dialog about sustainability. An inspiring teacher, gifted author, and exemplary leader, she is also the founder of the Sustainability institute and co-founder of the International Network of Resource Information Centers.
Monique Mehta (b. 1973)
Former E xecutive Director of the Third Wave Foundation
Monique Mehta graduated from Colgate University with a concentration in Sociology and Women’s Studies. Working effectively as a grassroots organizer she helped women and their families deal with compelling problems that included immigrant issues, reproductive health, violence against women, human trafficking, homelessness and organizing low-wage workers. She served with the Third Wave from 2005 to 2008. She began working at the Global Fund for Women in 2010.
Patsy Mink (1927-2002)
Congresswoman, Women's Rights Activist
Mink, the first Asian American elected to Congress, served 12 terms in Congress, beginning in 1965. She helped draft and win passage of Title IX in 1972. She was a founding member of the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. She authored legislation for the Women's Educational Equity Act in 1973. Mink worked for women's rights, health, labor, education and environmental issues; she opposed capital punishment and the Vietnam War.
Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
In 1847, Mitchell discovered a comet; later, it was named for her and she received a gold medal from the King of Denmark. In 1848, she was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Mitchell was astronomy professor at Vassar College from 1865 to 1888. In 1873, she co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Women. As chair of the science committee until her death, she pleaded for recognition of women's scientific abilities.
Mary Aloysius Molloy (1880-1954)
Educator and Innovator
Mary Molloy, developed a rigorous four-year undergraduate curriculum for a women’s college, comparable to those used by colleges that educated men. In 1907, she set high standards for both scholarship and public service. The College of Saint Teresa rapidly grew into one of the premier Catholic colleges in the United States.
Alicia Dickerson Montemayor (1902–1989)
Latina Activist, Artist
Montemayor worked to end discrimination and improve the lives of Latino families. In 1937, she became the first woman in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to hold a national office not specifically designated for women. That same year, she became the first woman to serve on the board of the LULAC News and helped start Junior LULAC. At age 74, Montemayor began painting. Under the name ADMonty, her vibrant works have been widely exhibited.
Toni Morrison (1931-)
Nobel Prize Author
Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1993. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel, Beloved. Morrison's lyrical, richly detailed works speak of family, history, and prejudice, making visible the lives of black women in America. Since publishing her first book in 1970, Morrison has written seven novels, two volumes of essays, and a play. She is currently a professor at Princeton University.
Constance Baker Motley (1921 -2005)
First African American Woman Appointed to the Federal Judiciary
Constance Baker Motley was born on September 14, 1921 in New Haven, Connecticut, the ninth of 12 children born to parents who had emigrated from the island of Nevis in the West Indies. Her pioneering career as a civil rights lawyer, lawmaker and judge spanned six decades and was highlighted by numerous historic achievements, including becoming the first African American woman accepted at Columbia Law School, the first African American woman elected to the New York Senate, the first woman and the first black woman to hold the position of Manhattan Borough President, and the first African American woman appointed to serve as a federal district judge
Tanya Narath (
b. 1963 )
Executive Director & CEO, Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy
Tanya Narath is the Executive Director and CEO of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. Under her collaborative and inspiring leadership, the Institute’s Leadership Training for a Sustainable Future program has developed a network of over 250 powerful leaders who are creating public policy that is environmentally friendly and socially equitable for a healthy economy and a sustainable community.
Health Promotion /Disease Prevention Coordinator
Ms. Shirley Nelson leads the Navajo Nation Trash Taskforce, a group of volunteers,
government officials and concerned citizens, who have a common interest in educating the public about the Nation’s solid waste problem. She works to educate communities on ways to become proactive in solving the solid waste issue in their communities and providing technical assistance that is otherwise lagging on certain parts of the Navajo Nation. http://www.healthynativecommunities.org/forums/message_list.jsp?topic_id=96
Roberta J. Nichols (
Roberta Nichols began research for alternative fuels at Ford Motor Company in 1979. She and her team developed ethanol-fueled engines and she oversaw the building of 27 natural gas trucks and worked on sodium-sulfur technology for batteries and electric vehicles. Nichols was the first woman elected to the Society of Automotive Engineers. She earned Aerospace Corporation’s Woman of the Year and Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award in 1988. http://www.cert.ucr.edu/news/nichols-letter.asp
Nancy Skinner Nordhoff (b. 1932)
Philanthropist and Environmentalist
Nancy Nordhoff is a hands-on philanthropist who has been a funder and advisor for the Women’s Funding Alliance of Seattle for over 25 years. She generously puts her money, time, and energy into visionary projects. These include Hedgebrook, a retreat center for women to write their stories, and Bayview Corner, a model of environmental integrity, economic development, and community revitalization.
Dr. Sharon Nunes
Vice President, Big Green
Sharon Nunes leads an organization created to identify and launch new businesses for IBM focused on using IBM's information technology expertise and IBM's materials & processing expertise to solve critical problems around environmental issues. IBM's approach to this initiative is focused on collaborative innovation, highlighting the need for multiple parties to come together to solve the world's important problems.
Violet Oakley (1874-1961)
Muralist/ Stained Glass Artist
Violet Oakley was one of America's most popular illustrators, a talented designer of stained glass, and a creator of visionary murals. In 1902 she received the largest public commission given to an American woman up until that time to paint murals for the Pennsylvania Governor's House. She was the second woman to receive the Gold Medal of Honor from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She also worked for women’s suffrage and world peace.
Ellen Ochoa (1958-)
Ochoa was the first female Hispanic astronaut who, in 1993, served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery. The astronauts were studying the earth's ozone layer. A pioneer of spacecraft technology, she patented an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern. At the NASA Ames Research Center, she led a research group working primarily on optical systems for automated space exploration.
Sandra Day O'Connor (1930-)
Supreme Court Justice
O'Connor became the first woman Supreme Court justice when she was named by President Reagan in 1981. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1952, O'Connor was an Arizona state senator from 1969 to 1974 where she was the first woman to be majority leader of a state senate. In 1979, she became the first woman on the Arizona Court of Appeals. Her service on the country's highest court has paved a way for more women in the judicial system.
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986)
Famous for her stunning combination of technique and vision, her brilliant colors and simplicity of form, O'Keeffe ranks as one of our great contemporary American artists. She broke all rules for women artists of her time with the boldness of her paintings. She is best known for her precisely painted, highly stylized studies of southwest desert landscapes and natural objects, flowers, birds, and bones, the "beautiful shapes," she once said, "that I see in my mind."
Graciela Olivarez (1928-)
Olivarez is a former chair of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Olivarez and Vilma Martinez were the first women on the board. Olivarez worked as a volunteer helping the poor and the physically disadvantaged. President Carter named her Director of Community Services Administrations in 1977. A professor of Law at the University of New Mexico she served as director for the Institute for Social Research and Development.
Kitty O'Neal (1946- )
O'Neal is one of the world’s greatest stunt women. She drove a 48,000 horsepower car at 618 miles per hour. She jumped off a 105 foot cliff, has crashed cars, been set on fire, and jumped off a ten- story building. She has performed stunts for TV shows such as Bionic Woman and Gemini Man. In 1970, O'Neal set a world record as the fastest woman on water skis at the speed of 104.85 mph. She was a diver and competed for the US in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
Rose O'Neill (1874-1944)
Illustrator, Author, and Business Woman
Rose O'Neill, illustrator, author and business woman, was one of the first female cartoonists in America. She began illustrating for magazines and books in 1893. In 1909 she created the Kewpie character which led to Kewpie cartoon and the sale of Kewpie dolls and related items. She worked for women’s suffrage and women’s dress reform. In 1917, she was admitted to the all-male Society of Illustrators in New York City.
Nina Otero-Warren (1881-)
Educator, Politician, Suffragist
Between 1914 and 1920, Otero-Warren worked for woman suffrage in New Mexico. She became superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe County in 1918. As superintendent, Warren made improvements in rural schools. During WWI, she worked with the Red Cross. In 1921, she ran for the Congress and lost. Otero-Warren was then appointed Inspector of Indian Schools in Santa Fe County in 1923 and was able to improve education for Native Americans.
Lorrie Otto (
Founder of Wild Ones Natural Landscapers
Through her passion as a founder and leader of the natural landscaping movement for the last 50 years, Lorrie Otto has educated, inspired and mentored us to see the transformation of our lifeless lawns into natural landscapes as not mere gardening, but as a conservation effort to help restore habitat for a diverse community of species. Her legacy "grows" with each passing season.
Rebecca Otto (
Minnesota State Auditor
Rebecca Otto’s commitment to a greener planet is demonstrated by her family’s passive solar, wind-powered home. As a Minnesota State Representative she worked to protect ecosystems, limit mercury emissions, protect groundwater, promote the development of commercial wind poser, and ban the use cancer-causing arsenic-treated wood in playgrounds..
Essie Parrish (1903-1979)
Kashaya Pomo Doctor
Parrish is believed to be the last of four leaders sent to guide the Kashaya Pomos. She was a religious, spiritual, and political leader of her tribe. She taught in the reservation school for the Pomos because she wanted to teach the children in the Indian language and of their culture. Parrish could also interpret people's dreams.
Alice Paul (1885–1977)
Suffragist, Founder of the Congressional Union
Arrested six times and jailed three times for suffrage demonstrations in England, Paul returned to the United States with radical ideas for the American movement. In 1913, she staged a huge parade in Washington, D.C., and organized pickets at the White House throughout 1917. Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, and for over fifty years, she led the movement to have the ERA become part of the Constitution.
Frances Perkins (1880–1965)
Secretary of Labor from 1933 through 1945, Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold a cabinet level position. After witnessing the Triangle shirtwaist fire in 1911, where 146 women workers lost their lives, she worked for safety legislation for industrial workers in New York State. As Secretary of Labor, Perkins secured legislation to provide unemployment relief, public works, Social Security, minimum wage and maximum hours and prohibition of child labor.
Sustainability and Risk Management Coordinator for Delta College
Linda started the recycling program at the college many years ago. Under her leadership the college has adopted a triple bottom line approach that incorporates financial, environmental and social benefits in all college decision making. She has created a green cleaning program for the custodial service and has encouraged conservation through out the college. Ms. Petee organized an eco-friendly style show at a local art center.
Esther Peterson (1906-1996)
LaborEducator, Government Official
Throughout her life and in many different areas, Esther Peterson worked to protect the rights of working people. As Assistant Secretary of Labor and Director of the Women's Bureau, she led successful campaigns for equal pay for equal work. She directed the first President's Commission on the Status of Women. In 1993, President Clinton named her a delegate to the UN General Assembly where she continued to advocate for the needs of working Americans.
Mary Pickford (1893-1979)
Pickford , star of Broadway productions and silent and talking films, was loved as "America's Sweetheart." A very savvy businesswoman, she co-founded United Artists in 1919 with the revolutionary idea of allowing filmmakers to have total artistic control over their films. As co-owner of United Artists, Mary Pickford became a millionaire several times over. In 1928, she won an Academy Award for Coquette. She continued producing films into the 1930s.
Agnes Baker Pilgrim (
Siletz Tribal Member
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim is one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers who are part of a global alliance; to work together to serve both their common goals and their specific local concerns. Their traditional ways link them with the forces of the earth. Their solidarity with one another creates a web to rebalance the injustices wrought from an imbalanced world. The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
Val Plumwood (1939-2008)
Val Plumwood was highly influential in defining and promoting a feminist environmental philosophy. She was an inspiring role model whose work and life embodied the principles of honor and respect for the environment. Her classic work, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature is essential reading to understand the cultural, historical, and philosophical issues involved in the environmental crisis that threatens our survival. www.Valplumwood.com
Dr. Diana Post
Executive Director/President of the Rachel Carson Council, Veterinarian, Author, Environmentalist
Inspired by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, Dr. Post became an expert in pesticide toxicology and has been at the forefront supporting regulations to protect people and animals from pesticide poisoning. She has authored extensive publications on pesticides, public health and the environment. Dr. Post is deeply committed to working for a healthier planet.
Mary Taylor Previte (b. 1932)
Pioneer and Advocate for Juvenile Justice
Mary Taylor Previte passed on the survival skills she learned from her seven years as a Prisoner of War in a Japanese prison camp during World War II to the children of America’s urban wars. Her profound belief in humanity and her ability to communicate positively with youth made the Camden County Youth Center for ages 14 to 17 a national model.
Leontyne Price (1927-)
Soprano Opera Diva
An operatic soprano of stunning musical talent, Price began her career in 1952 by singing the lead in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts. She sang Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in the U.S. and abroad. She was the first black singer to appear in a televised opera when she sang in Puccini’s Tosca, in 1955. Since retiring, Price has written a children’s book, Aida (1990), based on that opera. Her achievements and confidence provide a spirited role model.
Tobey Silbert Schein Prinz (
Teacher, Union Organizer, Community Activists
Tobey Silbert Schein Prinz working with other community activists she organized the Rogers Park Community Council (RPCC). In 1954, RPCC successfully blocked condominium development of the Lake Michigan beachfront in the Rogers Park neighborhood, preserving the beach as public space. As a teacher and union organizer, she also fought for racial integration and tenants’ rights.
Roxanne Quimby (
Founder of Burt’s Bees, Visionary and Philanthropist
From a humble back-to-the-land émigré to Maine’s North Woods, through her remarkable determination and entrepreneurship in forming the enormously successful cosmetics, Burt’s Bees, for more than a decade she has turned her attention to purchasing and preserving many thousands of acres of Maine’s forest land, protecting them in perpetuity from exploitation and development. http://www.yankeemagazine.com/issues/2008-03/features/quimby
Amanda Quraishi (b. 1974)
Amanda authors a blog called “Fashion, Evolved” that focuses on eco-friendly and sustainable fashion
"Ma" Rainey (1886-1939)
Born Gertrude Pridgett in Georgia, "Ma" Rainey was one of the last great minstrel artists and the earliest known black woman blues singer. Rainey began as a singing comedian with her husband in 1904. She attained national stardom in the 1920s through a recording contract. With her rich contralto voice, she recorded at least 92 songs from 1923 to 1928 and has been called "Mother of the Blues." She mentored the young Bessie Smith and influenced many others.
Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)
Congresswoman, Suffragist, Peace Activist
Rankin began her political work in Montana campaigning for woman suffrage. In 1916, running on a pro-suffrage and anti-war platform, she became the first woman elected to the US Congress. She voted against entering WWI and then worked for improved pay and better conditions for government women. Elected to Congress again in 1940, she voted against entering World War II. In 1967, she led the Jeannette Rankin Brigade in a demonstration against the Vietnam War.
Owner/Operator Neptune Farm
This former Wall Street businesswoman looks right at home on her 126-acre organic farm. Torrey “uses grass-fed animals to bring her soil back to life”. This advocate of sustainable farming serves as a mentor for new agronomists; establishing strong partnerships with local restaurants, providing her own produce and meats, and tips to prepare them to their maximum culinary potential. Learn more.
Toshi Reagon (b. 1964)
Singer, Songwriter, Blending Every American Style of Music
Toshi Reagon was born in Atlanta in 1964 and currently lives in New York City. A musician known for her energetic performances, she has an exemplary gift for writing engaging songs that provoke listeners to think and have fun at the same time. She is an amazing artist who in some ways is a throwback to classic R & B artists, like Stevie Wonder or Prince, or old school rock group like Led Zeppelin. With incredible ease, she can take any style, update it, and make it her own. Despite (or because of) her genre-bending, Reagon fits comfortably on a stage at Carnegie Hall, or in a dirty rock club. http://www.toshireagon.com/
Florence Reece (1900-1986)
Labor Song Writer
In 1931, bloody violence erupted in Harlan County, Kentucky, after coal miners went on strike for decent wages. Reece, wife of one of the coal miners, experienced the violence and was inspired to write the song, Which Side Are You On? Her lyrics expose strike violence as a class struggle. The song has become one of the most famous of the American labor movement.
Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911)
Richard was the first American women to earn a degree in chemistry, a pioneer in applying scientific principles to domestic situations such as nutrition, physical fitness, sanitation, and efficient home management, and creator of the field of home economics. She undertook the first scientific water quality studies in America and is called the founder of ecology.
Sally K. Ride (
b. 1951 )
Scientist, Astronaut, Founder of Sally Ride Science
Sally was the first American woman in space and established nationwide Sally Ride Festivals for Girls. As a scientist addressing Global Climate Change, she has published many resources addressing the topic for schools. Her professional conference during the summer of 2008 brought together leading scientists and educators which provided a phenomenal setting for awareness on the earth's environmental concerns.
Faith Ringgold b.1930
Faith Ringgold, artist and author, is best known for her painted story quilts -- art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling. Her work aims to celebrate the uniqueness and commonality of all cultures. She has exhibited in major museums around the world. She has also written and illustrated over eleven children’s books. Her 'motto' on her website is If One Can Anyone Can All You Gotta Do Is Try.
Robin Roberts (1960-)
Athlete, TV Sports Journalist
Star of the Southern Louisiana University Lions basketball team, Roberts was one of three women to score 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. In 1990 she joined ESPN, covering events including basketball and the Olympic games. Roberts received the 1993 Excellence in Sports Journalism Award for Broadcast Media. She has advised the Women’s Sports Foundation and has received awards for expanding the image of women in broadcast journalism.
Elsie Roemer (1893-1991)
California Mrs. Roemer was a conservation list who aided and established the guidelines for the preservation of Alameda and San Leandro Bay marsh lands. Her study, care, and well-being of endangered birds was recognize by the East Bay Regional Park District by naming a bird sanctuary on the Alameda Bay tide lands in her honor.
Joanelle Romero (b. 1957)
Launched Red Nation Media Internet and Television Channel
Joanelle Romero, humanitarian, filmmaker, actress, recording artist/singer/songwriter, in 2006 launched Red Nation Media Internet and Television Channel with all Native programming. Her accomplishments as a pioneer in film, television, non-profit organizations, educator, philanthropist, producer, director, have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico of Apache/Cheyenne, Jewish and Spanish descent, Romero was raised in Los Angeles on a variety of TV and movie sets, where she learned her craft. (www.RedNation.com).
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)
Although a shy child, Eleanor Roosevelt became one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. During the Roosevelt Administration, she used her position to promote reforms to help women, minorities, and poor people. As the "eyes and ears" for her husband, she provided essential information about Americans' concerns. In 1948, as a delegate to the United Nations, she worked brilliantly to win passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ernestine Rose (1810-1892)
Rose joined Stanton and others in 1840 fighting for passage in New York of the married women's property bill which took 20 years to be passed in full. In 1850, she called for "political, legal, and social equality with man." Her lectures included themes of anti-slavery, temperance and freedom of thought. Anthony wrote that the suffrage movement pioneers "begin with Mary Wollstonecraft—then Frances Wright—then Ernestine L. Rose."
Harilyn Rousso (1946)
Disabled Rights Activist
Harilyn Rousso, a pioneer activist in both disability rights and feminism, whose informed work and extraordinary talent has empowered countless women and girls with disabilities. Her life and work demonstrate that women and men with disabilities can and should lead the lives they choose.
National Park Service Midwest Regional Environmental Specialist
Michigan Wisconsin Wyoming Colorado and Nebraska
Mary Rozmajzl has been an Environmental Educator in Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Colorado. Through her work she has instilled a love for nature and the environment in the minds of both young and old. Through her current work, Ms. Rozmajzl has created an all-encompassing office recycling campaign and spread her “Go Green” attitude to all of the parks in her region.
Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994)
In 1960, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals for track and field. This feat is even more astounding because she had been crippled by illness and was not able to walk until she was eight years old. She continued breaking records until she retired in 1962. In 1974, she was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame. To encourage young athletes, she founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation in 1981.
Mary Ruthsdotter (1944 – 2010)
Co-Founder of the National Women’s History Project.
In 1980, Ruthsdotter co-founded the National Women’s History Project. Along with her co-founders, she developed materials for students, teachers, librarians, parents, workplace organizers, and the media. She produced curriculum units, organizing guides, teacher training sessions, and videos on U.S. women’s history. The thousand of packets of press releases and women’s history information she compiled to promote women’s history were sent to radio, television, magazines, and newspapers throughout the nation. She coordinated the Women’s History Network which linked historians, librarians, performers, and community organizers nationwide. With her efforts, the NWHP became the national clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history resources. She and her husband, Dave, created two award-winning websites. Her amazing work encouraged new generations to discover women’s history and contributed greatly to the knowledge of how women have history forward
Sacajawea was a Shoshone woman sold to a fur trader, Charbonneau, when she was fourteen. Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau as an interpreter; Sacajawea was a translator and guide. She traveled with her two-month old baby nicknamed "Pomp." She saved the expedition when she met her long-lost brother, a Shoshone, who prevented conflicts with unfriendly tribes. Lewis named a "handsome river" in Montana for Sacajawea, this trusted interpreter.
Buffy Sainte-Marie ( 1941-)
A Cree Indian, Sainte-Marie has supported Native American rights through her songs. Her intense political songs in the folk style of the 1960’s, like Universal Soldier and Now That the Buffalo's Gone, established her solid reputation as a songwriter and vocalist. Her first album debuted in 1964, and her latest in 1991. Sainte-Marie has written over 300 songs which have been recorded by her and more than 100 artists in seven languages.
Margaret Sanger (1879–1966)
Nurse, Birth Control Advocate
As a public health nurse in New York, Sanger anguished over the dismal lives of women burdened with unwanted pregnancies. In 1914, she began work to legalize birth control. In 1916, she opened the first family-planning clinic. In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, which became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942. Sanger overcame government opposition, legal battles, voluntary exile, and a jail sentence to aid women.
Maxine Lazarus Savitz (
Maxine Lazarus Savitz earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from MIT in 1961. She taught at the University of California, Berkeley where she strongly encouraged women to enter engineering fields. Her research includes work on free radical mechanisms, anodic hydrocarbon oxidation, fuel cells and improved use of energy in buildings. Her work resulted in the development of energy saving electrical technology and alternate fuels for cars.
Miriam Schapiro (b. 1923)
Miriam Schapiro is a pioneer in feminist art who developed her own style which she calls femmage. Embracing crafts traditionally associated with women and using commonplace elements such as lace, fabric scraps, buttons, rickrack, and sequins, she transforms them into sophisticated compositions. One of her important pieces was an installation in a Hollywood mansion entitled “Womanhouse” in 1972. An award-winning artist, she has exhibited throughout the world.
Rose Schneiderman (1882–1972)
A Russian-Jewish immigrant working in New York’s garment industry, Schneiderman organized workers for the Women's Trade Union League in 1908 and became its president in 1928, a position she held for 20 years. She was an ardent suffragist, and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1920 on a campaign of better working conditions. She served on the Labor Advisory Board of Roosevelt's NRA for two years, and was a founding member of the ACLU.
Tye Leung Schulze (1888–1972)
Schulze was the federal government’s first Chinese American civil servant. In 1910, she worked as an interpreter at the Angel Island Detention Center where Chinese immigrants were held until their immigration papers were approved. In 1912, 21-year-old Leung became the first Chinese-American woman to vote. When she married a Caucasian, she and her husband lost their jobs because of California's miscegenation laws forbidding mixed marriages.
Carolyn M. Scott (b. 1955 )
Founder and Executive Director of Turtle Island Films
Carolyn Scott is an Award Winning Producer/Director/Filmmaker and Educator with more than 25 years leading teams in education, technical and film endeavors. Carolyn is founder and executive director of Turtle Island Films and the non-profit Reel Community Action, which recognizes the power of local community action, and gives local leaders the tools to drive sustainability campaigns. Carolyn is a founding member of the Biofuels Research Cooperative in Sonoma, California and is currently working with leaders in the IT world to educate millions of Americans about climate change.
Kate Shackford (b.1951)
Vice President, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. & Director, Bronx Initiative for Energy and the Environment
Ms. Shackford leads environmental initiatives and programs. She has been able to lead the Bronx as the foremost “green” borough in New York City and has assisted the entire City in becoming more socially and environmental conscious. She has the ability to prove that she can take on any task and make it successful, while simultaneously exhibiting her dedication to the community. www.boedc.org/biee
Mary Belle King Sherman (1862-1935)
Conservationist, Advocate, Clubwoman
Mary Belle King Sherman (1862-1935) is known as the "National Park Lady" for helping to create the National Park Service in 1916. As Conservation chairman of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1914-1920), she promoted programs that resulted in six new national parks. In 1918, as the sole woman on the National War Gardens Commission, she established National Garden Week.
Ellen K. Silbergeld (b.1945)
Environmental Toxicologist and Research Scientist
Ellen Silbergeld is an environmental toxicologist and researcher who was the person primarily responsible for having lead, a major environmental and health hazard, removed from gasoline. She has been an activist in addressing lead contamination in water and has worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, the University of Maryland Medical School, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. www.faculty.jhsph.edu; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Silbergeld; http://www.daylife.com/words/Ellen_Silbergeld
Leslie Marmon Silko (1948-)
Silko, raised on the Laguna Pueblo Indian Reservation, listened to the traditional stories told by her great-grandmother. These tales later informed her poetry and novels. Her first book of poems, Laguna Woman, published in 1974, was followed in 1982 by Storyteller, a book of poetry and photographs. Silko's novel, Ceremony, in 1977 received critical acclaim. In 1991 her book, Almanac of the Dead, condemned the exploitation of native Americans.
Beverly Sills (1929-)
Coloratura Opera Diva
Sills was a child prodigy, a radio star at age 7. She made her operatic debut in 1946 at the Philadelphia Civic Opera and her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1975 where she sang in 46 performances in the next 5 years. She has served as chairwoman of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Sills served as national chair of the March of Dimes' Mothers' March on Birth Defects for 10 years. In 1998, Sills received the MS Hope Award for her work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Lorna Simpson (b. 1960)
Lorna Simpson is a pioneer in the field of conceptual photography. She is known for her large photograph-and-text works that challenge conventional views of gender, race, identity, culture, history, and memory. With the African-American woman as a visual point of departure, she examines contemporary multicultural America. She has also explored film and video art. Her work has been exhibited internationally.
Lillian Smith (1897-1966)
Smith published the first southern journal which included black and white authors. Her first novel, Strange Fruit, dealt with interracial love. Banned in Massachusetts, a ban by the U.S. Post Office was quickly stopped by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944. Other novels dealt with the moral effects of segregation and the hysteria accompanying the McCarthy charges of the 1950s. Smith was on the board of CORE for many years and inspired many black leaders.
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)
Smith served as a Maine congresswoman from 1940 to 1948 where she supported the Lend-Lease agreement with Britain and the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. From 1948 to 1973, Smith served in the Senate. In 1950, she was the first Senator to challenge the smear tactics of Senator McCarthy in her senate floor speech, "A Declaration of Conscience." In 1964, she sought the Republican nomination for president and received 27 votes at the convention.
Sandra Smith (b.1960)
State Farm Sales Associate
This great woman has organized a program based out of Leland Mississippi called: H.O.M.E.(Helping Others Means Everything) where senior citizens are adopted and afforded the opportunity to share with other senior citizens of the community. Every 5 th Saturday a meeting is held with the members and the adoptees to come together, eat, share, and reflect upon the beauty of the senior citizens that have been adopted. Her goal is to go worldwide with the program because she truly believes that everyone, especially senior citizens need to be shown how much they are loved and cherished.
Jaune Quick-To-See Smith (b. 1940)
Abstract Painter/ Lithographer
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, one of today’s most acclaimed American Indian artists, calls herself a cultural art worker. Her art addresses tribal politics, human rights, and environmental issues with humor. She has completed several collaborative public art works such as the floor design in the Great Hall of the Denver Airport. Exhibited worldwide, she is also a curator of Native American exhibitions and a lecturer.
Betty Reid Soskin (b. 1921)
Cultural Anthropologist and Writer
Betty Reid Soskin’s deep, ingrained sense of culture, place, and purpose are obvious in the way she lives her life. Helping to make our history authentic, she persuaded the Rosie the Riveter/ World War II Home Front National Historical Park to acknowledge the role of Black neighborhoods surrounding the Richmond, California site, which had been bulldozed after the war.
Nancy Spero (1926-2009)
Nancy Spero’s art reflects her social, political, and feminist activism. In the 1960’s she produced one of her most famous collections of work, “The War Series.” She cofounded the very first collective of women artists in the U.S., A.I.R. (Artists In Residence) Gallery in New York City in 1972. Her work includes paintings, collages, murals, mosaics, and large-scale installations.
Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN (1931 –2005)
Educator, Activist, Environmentalist
Sister Dorothy Stang, who was an American nun murdered in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest because she opposed the illegal loggers and cattle ranchers who were clear cutting the forest for pasture. Sister Stang was an educator and activist, who worked tirelessly for the right of poor farmers to acquire land for sustainable farming. After her death Brazil increased its protection of its rainforest.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
Women’s Rights Activist
Stanton spearheaded the demand for equal rights for women. In 1848, she and 4 friends organized the historic women's rights convention in Seneca Falls where Stanton made gaining suffrage, ownership of property, and guardianship of children some of the rights for women. Stanton and Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869; Stanton served as its president for 21 years. She was an eloquent speaker for her ideas and a forceful writer.
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Stein’s first book was Three Lives (1909) about three working class women. In 1914, she wrote Tender Buttons, which was influenced by cubism. Stein wrote an opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, in 1934; Virgil Thompson wrote the music for it. Stein wrote about the soldiers during the German occupation of France in Brewsie and Willie in 1946. Stein remained in France during WWII and wrote a book of her experiences, Wars I have Seen.
Gloria Steinem (1934-)
Women Rights Activist, Writer
Steinem graduated from Smith College in 1956. She received a fellowship to study in India where she saw the oppression of women and the power of non-violent protests. Her insights resulted in a book, A Thousand Indias, written for the Indian government in 1957 but never published. In 1972, she co-founded MS magazine. A collection of Steinem’s essays and articles, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, was published in 1983.
Marion Stoddart (b.1928)
Environmental Pioneer and Activist
During the 1960s, the Nashua River made the top 10 list of most polluted rivers in the U.S. Then Marion Stoddart got involved, building a citizen coalition that changed laws, attitudes, and restored the river. In the process, Marion won the United Nations Global 500 Award, was profiled in National Geographic, and had a widely-read children's book written about her.
Lucy Stone (1818-1893)
Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Suffragist
Lucy Stone was a noted speaker for abolitionism and women's rights. For several years, she lectured wearing the Bloomer costume. In 1852, she led the call for the first national woman’s rights convention held in Worcester, Massachusetts. When she married Henry Blackwell in 1855, she kept her own name and became "Mrs. Stone." In 1869, she helped form and lead the American Woman Suffrage Association which for 47 years published the "Women’s Journal."
Anne Sullivan (1866-1936)
In 1886, Sullivan graduated from the Perkins Institute for the Blind. She became Helen Keller's very patient and innovative teacher when Helen was seven years old and guided her education through graduation from Radcliffe in 1904. Sullivan continued to help Keller in her writing and lecturing achievements. International recognition for both women included honorary degrees from Temple University in 1931 and in 1936 medals from Roosevelt Memorial Foundation.
Robyn (Staup) Sweet (b. 1976)
Senior Coordinator Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Dayton, OH)
A former high school science teacher, Robyn Sweet is an environmental science educator who uses hands-on field research to inform her work with the public. A Master Teacher at the Ocean Sciences Leadership Institute, Sweet was also selected as a Polar TREC Teacher in 2007, where she was paired with a researcher for a five-week study of the Bering Sea ecosystem.
Kathleen C. Taylor (b.1942)
Kathleen Taylor, physical chemist, worked with her co-workers at General Motors to invent a catalytic converter to convert nitric oxide into nitrogen gas. This improved catalytic converter was introduced in 1975, help reduce smog emissions. She directed General Motors’s Materials and Processes Laboratory and the Physical Chemistry Department. In 1988 Dr. Taylor received the Garvan Medal of the American Chemical Society, sponsored by Olin Corporation. http://www.chemheritage.org/women_chemistry/enviro/taylor.html
Anne P. Teller (b.1931)
Owner/Manager of Oak Hill Farm
California Montana USA
In the early 1980’s,Anne Teller began growing vegetables primarily for her family and friends at Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen, California. Today, all farming is done under a sustainable agriculture/organic farming model. Ms Teller continues to prepare thousands of annual seedlings for spring transplant into the fields, propagating perennials, and nurturing plants all over the farm from transplant to harvest.
Emma Tenayuca (1916–1999)
As a student, Tenayuca realized her life of poverty as a Latina differed greatly from the living conditions of Americans described in her schoolbooks. As a labor organizer, she worked to improve the opportunities of poor people, especially Latinos. She worked to end unfair child labor practices. She is best known for her fiery speeches and union organizing work which began in a successful 1934 strike on behalf of pecan shellers in a Texas food processing plant.
Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)
Women’s Rights Activist
Terrell graduated from Oberlin in 1884. In the 1890s, she began lecturing at forums and colleges against lynching and discrimination and for woman suffrage. She picketed the White House in 1917. She was a charter member of the NAACP and picketed to desegregate lunchrooms in D.C. in the 1950s. She served on the executive committees of both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Tina J. Terrell (b.1964)
Forest Supervisor, Sequoia National Forest, USDA Forest Service
Tina Terrell is the Forest Supervisor on the Sequoia National Forest for the USDA Forest Service. She has worked to diversify Forest Service personnel and the forestry profession, and to educate young people in urban areas about natural resources. She is also very active in the Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/news/2007/newsupervisor-sequoia.shtml
Susette La Flesche Tibbles (1854- 1903)
Indian Rights Advocate, Author
Tibbles taught at an Indian school after being educated in the East. In 1887, her Indian tribe, Ponca, was forcibly removed from their land on the Dakota-Nebraska border. Tibbles lectured in the East and made many converts to the cause of Indian rights, including Helen Hunt Jackson. In addition to writing Indian stories, in 1881 Tibbles addressed the Association for the Advancement of Women on "The Position, Occupation and Culture of Indian Women."
Laurie Tippin (b. 1955)
Director of State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service
Laurie Tippin is the Director, State and Private Forestry for the USDA Forest Service. She is a forester by profession and has a solid experience in forest management, stewardship contracting and fuels reduction; has provided national oversight to timber sale litigation. She has an exemplary reputation for professionalism and for dealing with difficult issues by finding common
Minnijean Brown Trickey (b.1941)
Civil Rights Activist Who Integrated Central High School in 1957
Minnijean Brown Trickey was only sixteen years old when she became involved in one of the most pivotal acts of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. As one of The Little Rock Nine, she along with eight other Black American teenagers, defied death threats, hostile white demonstrators, and even the Arkansas National Guard, to attend the all-White Little Rock Central High in 1957. Rising above the adversity, she took a courageous step that not only changed her life and education, but the lives and educations of African Americans around the country.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Sojourner Truth was freed when New York abolished slavery in 1828. She successfully sued for freedom for a son who had been sold illegally. Already a forceful speaker for abolition, she attended a Women’s Rights Convention in 1850 and became a strong voice for women’s rights and suffrage with her famous speech in Ohio in 1852, "Ain’t I a Woman?" After the Civil War, she tried to get Congress to provide land in the West for newly freed blacks.
Nichole Trushell (b. 1955)
Founder and Retired Director of the Highlands Center for Natural History
In 1991, Nichole began developing experiential learning, educational activities, helping children discover nature and become wise caretakers of the land. Under her leadership in 2007, HCNH constructed a premier, regional, over $3 million gold-rated LEED campus (on 80 acres of National Forest land) which showcases green building strategies, drought tolerant landscaping, fire-wise living, water conservation, and a waste management-constructed wetlands. www.highlandscenter.org
Mary Tsukamato (1915-1998)
Educator, Writer, and Cultural Historian
Mary Tsukamoto’s ultimate decision to become a teacher was heavily influenced by teachers in her early life who helped fund her college education. Tsukamoto’s family was interned in rural prison camps during World War II. This internment experience defined much of her life as a teacher and a leader. She worked tirelessly to secure the U.S. government apology and compensation for those who had been interned.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
Fugitive Slave, Rescuer of Slaves
Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland. In 1849, she fled to Philadelphia but returned to Maryland the next year to begin the first of many Underground Railroad trips to lead family and friends to freedom using caution, skill, and subterfuge. Some passengers she escorted to Canada. In the Civil War, Tubman was a spy and scout for the Union in the Sea Islands. In 1896, she spoke at the convention of the American National Woman Suffrage Association convention.
Yoshiko Uchida (1921–1992)
From the first book she wrote at age ten, Uchida created the genre of Japanese-American literature for children. Her most famous book, Journey to Topaz, like most of her 28 books, depicts the unique experiences of young Japanese Americans and how they developed the inner strength needed to deal with the conflicts they faced. Her work has eased the transition for recent immigrant youths and has helped bring about a better understanding of Japanese culture.
Wilma Vaught (1930-)
Retired Brigadier General
One of the most-decorated military women in U.S. history and the Air Force’s first female general, after retiring in 1980, General Vaught was the driving force behind the building and dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, DC. She served on the Committee on Women in the Armed Forces in NATO, 1984-85. Vaught was also a member of the International Women’s Forum.
Lillian Wald (
Mother of Public Health Nursing & Pioneering Social Worker
In 1893, when NYC’s Lower East Side was the world’s most crowded slum, Lillian Wald founded Visiting Nurse Service of New York, becoming the “mother of public health nursing.” Recognizing needs of the urban poor that eclipsed health care, Wald added social services. She fought child labor and helped secure creation of the federal Children's Bureau. Wald was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. Learn more.
Madam C.J. Walker (1867–1919)
Sarah Breedlove (Madam C.J. Walker) was America's first black woman millionaire. The first to create cosmetics specifically for black women, she developed a hair-straightening comb and other hair-care products. Successful promotions led to opportunities for thousands of black women who operated beauty shops nationwide. She donated generously to NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign in 1919, the suffrage movement, and many other civic and educational groups.
Rebecca Walker (1969-)
Founder of the Third Wave Foundation in 1992, Walker teaches social activism across the country to women aged 15 to 30 as a means to combat inequalities faced by young women. In 1992, these young people registered 20,000 new voters in inner cities. Walker encourages young women to be at the forefront of social change movements.
Alice Waters (b.1944)
Founded Chez Panisse Foundation
Alice Waters is a pioneering cook, restaurateur and food activist. In 1996, she launched Chez Panisse Foundation to inspire students to choose healthy food and help them understand how their choices affect their health, their communities, and the planet. The programs include replacing school cafeteria canned fruits and vegetables with fresh fruit and vegetables, and developing school yard organic gardens where students cultivate food that they also prepare, serve and eat.
May Petrea Theilgaard Watts (
Teacher and Author
Teacher and author, May Petrea Theilgaard Watts, served as a naturalist from 1942-1957 at the Morton Arboretum west of Chicago. Her educational programs were used as models for other institutions. She founded the Illinois Prairie Path, a foot and bike path of almost thirty miles also west of Chicago, and led efforts to transform old rail lines into public trails. http://www.ipp.org/GUI/index.html. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Theilgaard_Watts
Annie Dodge Wauneka (1910–1997)
Wauneka was the first woman delegate elected to the Navajo tribal council in 1951. For the next 17 years, the "Warrior Who Scouts the Enemy" successfully blended modern medicine and traditional healing practices to combat a tuberculosis epidemic and other diseases, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the death rate. Revered as "the most honored Navajo in our history," in 1963, Wauneka became the first American Indian to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
June Claire Wayne ( b. 1918)
June Claire Wayne is a visual artist working in several media including painting, lithography, tapestry, industrial design, and video. She is credited with revitalizing the art of lithography in the U.S. with the opening of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1960, which later became the Tamarind Institute of the University of New Mexico. Her lithographs are considered masterpieces, and her work is exhibited worldwide.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931)
Wells-Barnett began a daring editorial campaign against lynching in her Memphis Free Speech newspaper in 1892. After her office was sacked, she continued her fearless crusade in New York City as a journalist and traveling lecturer, organizing anti-lynching societies in many cities. Moving to Chicago, Wells-Barnett published A Red Record in 1895, a detailed book about lynching. Throughout her life, she remained militant in her demand for justice for black Americans.
Elizabeth Coleman White (
1871– 1954 )
Elizabeth Coleman White grew up on her father’s cranberry farm and developed an interest in commercial agriculture. She pioneered the cultivation of the blueberry. Collaborating with Fredrick Coville, she developed develop a commercial blueberry based on the sweetest and hardiest of the wild varieties of blueberries growing in the NJ Pine Barrens. She also helped start the NJ Cooperative Blueberry Association.
Janice S. Wiles (b. 1956)
Executive Director, Friends of Frederick County ( Maryland) Programs of Land and Cultural Preservation Fund, Inc.
In 1984, when a fledgling Brazilian democracy opened the door to free speech and organization, Janice Wiles provided support and guidance for Brazilians about managing and conserving natural resources. Today, many of those young conservationists hold positions of national leadership. In Frederick County, MD, Janice leads a grassroots movement encouraging sustainable growth, preservation governance and citizen involvement in decision-making.
Frances Willard (1839-1898)
Temperance Leader, Feminist
From 1879 to 1898, Willard was president of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. She extended its mission from legal prohibition of liquor to include a broad range of causes including woman suffrage, peace through arbitration, and raising the age of consent. She exhorted women to "Do Everything." She lectured to large crowds in every state and territory. Her statue by Helen Mears represents Illinois in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Superintendent of Environmental Services
Ann Wilson’s commitment to a greener environment and her ability to bring people together has resulted in the success of several environmental projects. Theses projects include: recycling Christmas trees for coastal restoration; organizing household hazardous waste collections; creating non-point source pollution awareness projects, litter-free Mardi Gras parades; and protecting drinking water sources by implementing the Well Head Protection Program. www.kab.org/site/DocServer/2003_annual_review.pdf?docID=123 www.kab.org/site/DocServer/2006_KAB_annual.pdf?docID=501
Diane Wilson ( b.1948 )
Diane Wilson is a fourth-generation shrimper, who began fishing at the age of eight. Her environmental activism began when she learned that Formosa Plastic dumping toxins into the bay made her home of Calhoun County, Texas the number one toxic polluter in the country. Although she was threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted that the truth be told. http://www.texasgoldmovie.com; http://www.chelseagreen.com/authors/diane_wilson/
Mary Louise Defender Wilson (1930-)
Mary Louise Defender Wilson is a Dakotah/Hidatsa storyteller who began collecting stories that tell of the traditions of the old and connect the ancient and the present. Since she was young, she heard stories that had been handed down through the generations. Today, she continues her work through radio programs and CD recording and relates stories that celebrate the idea that all generations need to be connected with a sense of purpose and history.
Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891)
Indian Rights Activist
Winnemucca, a Paiute Indian, was a liaison between the Paiutes in Nevada and the army in the 1870s. After the Bannock Uprising in 1878, Winnemucca lectured to publicize the injustices suffered by the Paiutes. She wrote a book, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, which won wide popular support. She took thousands of signatures on her petition to Congress that passed a law giving land grants to the Paiutes, but the Secretary of the Interior ignored its provisions.
Jade Snow Wong (1922- )
Jade Snow Wong is a talented artist who began selling her work in Chinatown in San Francisco. Her art is displayed in museums across the nation. Wong’s enamels and pottery blend ancient Chinese and American techniques. She is also gifted in writing literature. Her first book, Fifth Chinese Daughter, is about a traditional Chinese family adapting to American conditions in San Francisco. Later, Wong wrote No Chinese Stranger.
Chien-Shiung Wu (1912–1997)
Chien-Shiung Wu came to the United States to study science as a teenager and became "the world’s foremost female experimental physicist" because of her significant contributions to nuclear physics. Experiments she devised and conducted disproved the “conservation of parity” principle. Wu received the National Science Medal in 1975 and the internationally respected Wolf Prize in 1978. At Columbia University she studied the movement of atomic particles, the tiniest known forms of matter.
Esther Yanai (1928–2003)
Esther Yanai was a giant in New Jersey’s conservation movement. A founding member of Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM), which preserves and protects the community’s open space, she was the driving force behind the creation a natural resources inventory (NRI) for the Township and an open space inventory for Moorestown’s first Open Space Committee and later the Moorestown Environmental Advisory Committee. http://www.njconservation.org/html/swi/5-12-04.htm
Alice Yu (1905- )
Alice Yu was the first Chinese American teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. She was a teacher for the students who predominantly spoke Chinese at Commodore Stockton in Chinatown. Later, Yu traveled to other schools to help students with speech disabilities. Today, there is a Chinese immersion school named after Alice Fong Yu, in San Francisco, for children of all backgrounds.
Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias (1914–1956)
Zaharias is probably the greatest woman athlete of the 20th century. She set world records and won gold medals at the 1932 Olympics in the javelin throw and 80-meter hurdles. Between 1932 and 1954, Zaharias was named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year six times. A champion golf player, she won 17 straight amateur tournaments in 1947 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1948, 1950, and 1954. She was also active in basketball, swimming, diving, baseball, football, and figure skating.