Meeting the VFA Board!

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GRACE RIPA WELCH - A founder and Past President South Shore NOW, Currently President Emerita, Mid-Suffolk NOW Stony Brook, VFA Board Member, YOGA Master

I was sitting in the Graham Paige, Tony B’s (our landlord) bootlegging car returning from an alcohol drop in the black section of Corona, Queens, in the time of speakeasies and the Roaring Twenties. He drives into the garage under the house, gets out of the car, goes to his wife, Mary, who is standing in the doorway to their basement kitchen, and without saying a word knocks her down, kicks her, beats her, her near-sighted glasses go flying.

I was cringing underneath the car like a small frightened animal. I didn’t know the word “feminist,” but I knew this was wrong. I was six years old.

I was born into a large immigrant Italian family, sixth child in a field of eight, four boys and four girls. Calvin Coolidge was President when I was born, November 14, 1924. At that time the Ripa family lived on East 50th St. between Second & Third Aves. I remember well the Second Avenue Elevated. My father, Antonio Ripa, was from a village, Divieto, near Messina, Sicily, and my mother, Grazia Caccioppoli, from a village in the mountains across from Mt. Vesuvius. She was 17 when she came through Ellis Island, accompanying her grandfather who wanted to see "gold in the streets of New York"! During the period of quarantine, her grandfather died. What happened after that is a story for another time.

We moved to Elmhurst, Queens when I was 4. I followed three boys in the family hierarchy, so I grew up a tomboy, and ran with the pack–did boy things, played ringalevio, handball, stickball, stoopball in the streets of Queens, and came to realize very early that some boys and men can be violent, so I was always alert to any clues that triggered my antenna.

I was a good student, loved my teachers, played the lead in the opera Rapunzel at P.S. 127 Elementary; achieved the highest ever History Regents score of 98 at Newtown High School. I was tracked for a commercial degree, as college was not in the cards. My first job was as secretary to the V.P. Purchasing of Pepsi-Cola Company in Long Island City, from which I transferred to the Advertising Department, where I worked on Pepsi’s first bottle-cap contest, and was able to travel to trade conventions in Chicago and New Orleans. I was with Pepsi-Cola for seven years, during which time I took advantage of their student assistance program and completed several creative writing courses at Columbia University. I used this talent to write for the “Pepsi World” house organ, a monthly interview column, a special article on military jargon, since World War II was raging, did on-site reports on Pepsi-Cola bottlers. I was also a volunteer behind the counter of the Pepsi-Cola Center in Times Square.

I met my husband, Frank, on a blind date; it was his first night in New York, having driven non-stop from Anderson, South Carolina, to Flushing, Queens, to take a machinist job with Ford Instrument Company, a division of Sperry Gyroscope, to make high precision parts for the war effort. I was sitting on a park bench at the 104 St. Corona station (#7 line for you New Yorkers) waiting for my girlfriend who came down the stairs with two young men with very heavy Southern accents. We paired off–I got Frank–he had never seen an Italian before–I was 16. (Who says they don’t believe in Destiny?)

Eventually Frank’s war work deferments ran out as the War ground on and he was drafted. He chose the Navy and was stationed at Camp Peary, Virginia, as Ships Company Photographer. Eighteen months later the war ended and he was discharged. He opened his own Photography Studio in Sunnyside, Queens, and ran it for 5 years, selling it at a profit, when again he was called to work at Ford Instrument for our next war. We were married in 1946, I was 21.

I continued working at Pepsi, which I felt was a very progressive company, but my first awareness of discrimination in the workplace was when I decided to conserve my two-week vacation time for when I was planning to leave work to have our first baby. During the exit interview, I asked that my two-week vacation pay be added to my final check, and was told by the female Personnel Manager that that was not possible, since I was leaving the company and the vacation pay was for those who were staying with the company. I did not feel this was fair.

Thinking back, I remembered that when I was 13 years old I took care of my oldest sister’s infant during my summer vacation, when she went to work in the City. Each morning, before she left the apartment, she would take off her wedding ring, put it on a chain around her neck, then tuck the ring inside her blouse. I asked why she was doing that. She replied “Because I work for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and if they knew I was married, they would fire me.” I didn’t think that was fair.

back row from left: Kimberly, Lisa, Grace, Jean Tobin front: Leanna Marie

With my high energy level, I went back to work when Michael was one year old, and hired my Mom to care for him while I worked at Equitable Paper Bag in Long Island City as secretary to a vice president. It was a good arrangement for me and my mother; only my conservative brothers were upset that I did not want to be a stay-at-home mom. Daughter Jean was born April 9, 1953.

I again re-entered the work force outside the home when Jean was one year old, working as Administrative Assistant to Presidents of various firms–the Korean War was in progress, so my federal security clearance came in handy working for a microwave guidance firm, and then at an advertising agency in the Chanin Building, Grand Central.

When Michael was 7 and Jean was 5, I planned a 3-1/2 month vacation in Italy, bringing my Mom, who was born in a little village in the mountains above Sorrento, Preazzano. I studied conversational Italian for two years at night at New York University in preparation for the trip. I wanted to be completely autonomous, renting a Fiat sedan, making the grand tour. The top song around the world at that time was “Volare” – indeed!

Our third child, Lisa Grace, was born on Flag Day 1959 and our Queens one-bedroom apartment was getting crowded. Frank got a job at Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, Suffolk County, Long Island, and we moved to the suburbs.

I circulated my resume when Lisa was about three, and landed a job in the Advertising-Public Relations Department of Potter Instrument Company, Syosset. Jack Potter, founder and president, saw me dictating to my secretary, and went to my boss and said “What do we have now, girls dictating to girls? Put a stop to it!” So poor Don Hawes, my boss, had to tell me to please do my dictation in a private office behind closed doors. The crowning shot was when I was up for review, was told that I could not get a raise because I had a working husband. I didn’t think that was fair.

The next job I applied for was as Assistant Advertising Manager for Chemco Photoproducts in Glen Cove, and I got the interview by sending a Western Union telegram (remember telegrams? How quaint.) in response to an ad in NEWSDAY and signed it G. Welch. When the call came, the caller was surprised to learn I was a woman, he was looking for George! I became Advertising-Public Relations Manager within three years, had a secretary (not behind closed doors!) and a small staff. I could share many “light bulb moments”–too many to recount here–but the 1970 Women’s Strike March down Fifth Avenue was the trigger that launched my full-fledged feminist activism, the day I joined NOW.

It was during this 7-year period with Chemco that I was a member of the Executive Board of the Long Island Advertising Club, serving as chair of women's issues in advertising. When I joined Nassau NOW in 1970, I was publicity director and member of the executive committee. In 1972 I was a convener of the Long island Feminist Coalition and coordinated its first press conference at Hofstra University. The event included an action against the Colonie Hill Convention Center, Hauppauge, and the American Red Cross for sex discrimination in their annual fundraiser. We threatened to picket the event (Bob Hope was the featured speaker) and from that day forward American Red Cross could not bar women from fundraising events.

Frank and Grace Welch

My husband, Frank, and I joined with eight others and started the South Shore NOW chapter. I served two terms as president, during which time we held the first Human Sexuality Conference on Long Island (Dowling College 1974); the first assertiveness training classes at the Women's Center in Oakdale; the first masculine mystique committee; the first co-ed CR groups. During that period, because of demeaning coverage by NEWSDAY of a women's conference we held at SUNY Farmingdale College, we requested a meeting with Suffolk Editor, Robert Greene and held the first C-R meeting of NEWSDAY editors.

Because I served as Women's Issues Chair of the L.I. Advertising Club, I facilitated a program covering Women's Image in Advertising, and broke all attendance records -- 300! with full back page coverage in NEWSDAY. (Friday, March 2, 1973). I recruited Joyce Snyder, New York City NOW to show her powerful slide presentation, which almost resulted in a riot!

I ran for the Central Islip school board in 1976 (as a write-in candidate!), campaigning for equal funds for girls in education and sports as directed by Title IX -- I had found out that the sports budget for male students was $43,000, while the girls received only $300.

Believing that women's economic survival is key to their full self expression, I co-chaired the employment committee of South Shore NOW. In 1984 I planned and coordinated the 7th annual Women & Careers Conference for New Directions Resource Center at Southampton College, and in 1985 planned and coordinated Hauppauge High School's Adult Education Conference for Working Women, Sandy Chapin was our luncheon speaker.

Business Professional Women's organization voted me Woman of the Year in 1986, and in 2004 I was elected President of Mid-Suffolk

pictured "Borat:" Sacha Baron Cohen, Linda Stein, Carole DeSaram

NOW to revive the moribund Stony Brook chapter. We are still going strong.

I shared a panel with Linda Stein and Carole DeSaram representing Veteran Feminists of America in Sacha Baron Cohen's film "BORAT: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006).

During all this time, my family grew and prospered. I am now a grandmother with two wonderful granddaughters who will benefit from the work of dedicated feminists.

Grace, with son Michael, at the NYC Public Theater, October 2010

Son Michael graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was a Lt. in the Navy, serving on the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Kitty Hawk, in the Pacific Theatre during the Vietnam War. Michael has assisted in several VFA fundraising events. He is a writer living in the Bronx.

Daughter Jean is a Teacher of Transcendental Meditation, living in Fairfield, Iowa, the headquarters of the TM Movement and the Mahareeshi University. She is currently studying and reporting on the effects of environmental pollution on pregnant women and their offspring.

Daughter Lisa Grace has two girls, and is a Teacher's Aide in the Bayport School District. Her daughter, Kimberly Grace is graduating from SUNY New Paltz as a Speech Pathologist, and has been accepted at Brooklyn College for her graduate studies. Lisa Marie is nine years old in fourth grade.

Currently I am President Emerita of Mid-Suffolk NOW, Stony Brook, Long Island, New York, as well as a Yoga Teacher in the Sivananda classical Hatha Yoga tradition, with a private practice in Islandia, NY and New York City. For the last seven years I have been the Yoga Teacher for the National NOW conferences. I volunteer teach to the homeless of New York, through the Renewal Project organization, and to incarcerated women preparing for re-entry into society... I invite you to visit my website:

My late husband Frank’s bio is listed in Barbara Love’s Big Book, “Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975” pp 486-7.

Contact Grace:

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos

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I was born in Berlin, Germany, of Polish Jewish parents in 1928. In 1933, my brother, Hermann, who was fourteen years my senior, saw the threat Hitler posed to Germany’s Jews and urged my parents to leave Germany. My father, who had lived in Germany for over twenty years and was the prosperous owner of a men’s clothing store, scoffed at this suggestion. He was sure that Hitler and his Nazi followers would soon blow over.

My brother decided to leave on his own, and, in May 1933, he moved to Antwerp, Belgium. Shortly thereafter, my father changed his mind about leaving Germany, met with a group of Nazis, agreed to give them our business for a fraction of its cost, and they gave us permission to leave.

In July 1933, my parents and I moved to Antwerp. There followed months during which my father and brother tried to find a way to make a living in Antwerp and other European cities, but nothing worked out. My brother made countless applications for visas to permit our family to remain in Belgium; all were denied. Then, my father read that ships were departing for the U.S., and my parents decided we would get on one of these ships. Since my parents had been born in Poland, we were able to get visas for the U.S. on our Polish passports. We left Antwerp on the Red Star Line’s S.S. Westernland in April 1933, arriving in New York City on May 1, 1934.

After we had left Antwerp, the police came to our apartment to serve us with deportation papers; they planned to deport us to Poland, where my parents hadn’t lived in twenty years. Had our visas to remain in Belgium been granted or had we been deported to Poland, we would, in all likelihood, have been killed during the Holocaust.

On arriving in New York City, my family rented an apartment in the Bronx and my father went into the men’s clothing business.

After a summer 1935 vacation in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, my father decided that we would be moving to a village in the Catskills, where he planned to go into the resort business, a business in which he had no experience.

In 1936, we moved to the village of Woodridge, New York, where my parents rented and ran a rooming house for five years. In 1941, my parents bought fifty acres of land in the nearby, larger town of Monticello, where they built a twenty-five-bungalow colony.

I graduated from high school in Monticello as valedictorian of my class and went on to Cornell University, from which I graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1950.

By that time, my brother was married and living in Long Beach, New York; my parents had sold the bungalow colony, retired and moved to Long Beach, too; and I moved there to live with my parents.

I thought the world would be beating a path to my door. But no such thing happened. I couldn’t get a job until I went to business school and learned shorthand. (I’d already taken typing in high school.) I finished my shorthand studies on a Friday and the following Monday I had a job as a secretary at Fawcett Publications.

By 1954, I felt I was getting nowhere fast, and decided to apply for law school at the University of Miami, FL (since my family and I often spent winters in Miami Beach). My goal was to practice law in a private law firm, something I never thereafter did.

In my final year of law school, recruiters from the U.S. Department of Justice came to the school, and I was accepted for their program for Honor Law Graduates.

After graduation from law school, first in my class, I moved to Washington, D.C., intending to stay with the Justice Department for a few months before moving on to my goal: private practice. That was the start of a twenty-three-year career with a number of federal agencies. I subsequently worked for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).

Through much of my career, I was looking for another job. From the age of ten, I had felt there was a purpose to my life, a mission I had to accomplish, and that I was not free as other girls and women were simply to marry, raise a family, and pursue happiness. This feeling arose from three factors in my life: I had been born only because my mother's favored abortionist was out of Berlin, my immediate family and I had escaped the Holocaust, and I was bright. I concluded that I had been saved to make a contribution to the world. But I had no idea what it was to be.

In 1963, as a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), I testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor in favor of the Equal Pay Bill, which was subsequently passed. I assumed that was my first and last effort on behalf of women’s rights--but I was wrong.

In October 1965, three months after it had commenced operations, I joined the EEOC as the first woman lawyer in its Office of the General Counsel--and found the role I was meant to play. The EEOC was charged with enforcement of a new law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time (it was later expanded to cover discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities), Title VII prohibited discrimination by covered employers, employment agencies, and labor unions based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

During its first year or so, by and large, the EEOC did not enforce the gender discrimination prohibitions of the Act. Most of the commissioners and staff had come to the agency to fight discrimination against African Americans and did not want the Commission’s time and resources devoted to gender discrimination. Furthermore, the gender discrimination provisions raised more difficult questions of interpretation than did the other prohibitions of the Act.

The Commission’s failure to implement the gender discrimination prohibitions of the Act caused me a great deal of grief and frustration. When Betty Friedan came to the Office of the General Counsel to interview the General Counsel and his deputy for a book she planned to write, I shared this frustration with her. I told her that what this country needed was an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for its constituency.

In June and October 1966, forty-nine men and women, of whom I was one, formed the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Thereafter, I became involved in an underground activity. I took to meeting privately at night in the Southwest Washington, D.C., apartment of Mary Eastwood, a Justice Department attorney and a co-founder of NOW, with her and two other government lawyers, Phineas Indritz and Caruthers Berger. At those meetings, I discussed the inaction of the Commission that I had witnessed during that day or week with regard to women's rights, and then we drafted letters from NOW to the Commission demanding that action be taken in those areas. To my amazement, no one at the Commission ever questioned how NOW had become privy to the Commission's deliberations.

As a result of pressure by NOW, the EEOC began to take seriously its mandate to eliminate gender discrimination in employment. It conducted hearings and began to issue interpretations and decisions implementing women's rights. I drafted one of the Commission’s earliest Digests of Legal Interpretations, its first Guidelines on Pregnancy and Childbirth, and the EEOC’s first decision finding that airlines violated Title VII when they grounded or terminated stewardesses on marriage or reaching the age of thirty-two or thirty-five.

I also became a founder of WEAL (Women’s Equity Action League) and FEW (Federally Employed Women) and a charter member of VFA (Veteran Feminists of America).

While I was at the EEOC, when I was forty-two years old, I married, and when I was 43½, I gave birth to my daughter. Subsequently, I divorced and raised my daughter as a single mother.

I left the Commission in 1973 and in the ensuing years became the highest-paid woman employee at the headquarters of two leading corporations: GTE Service Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut, and TRW Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1990, I learned I had breast cancer. I had a mastectomy and simultaneous silicone breast implant. Thereafter, I went on the board of the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the District of Columbia, traveled to Israel and China to look into the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in those countries, and reported on my findings to ACS and in speeches.

In 2005, I discovered that my breast implant had ruptured; I had it removed and replaced with a saline breast implant. Subsequently, I wrote an article on breast implant ruptures and leaks to let the millions of women with implants know that implants have limited life spans.

In 1996, at a ceremony honoring the founders of NOW, Betty Friedan presented me with the VFA Medal of Honor. I was honored by VFA again at a June 2008 program at the Harvard Club in NYC as one of thirty-six feminist lawyers who made significant contributions to women’s rights in the 1963-1975 time period.

In 2000, I was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame and was included in the National Gallery of Prominent Refugees established by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. I was also one of seventy-four women included by the Jewish Women’s Archive in an online exhibit of Jewish American women who contributed to women’s rights. (

I have lectured and written extensively in this country and abroad on women's rights. My testimony was presented to a Select Committee of the House of Lords when England was considering the passage of legislation prohibiting gender discrimination in employment, which legislation was subsequently passed, and I was a consultant to the Women's Department and the Department of Labour for the Province of Ontario when Ontario was considering the passage of such legislation, which legislation was also subsequently passed.

I have traveled as an "American specialist" on women's rights for the then-US Information Agency (USIA) to France, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, giving talks and meeting with women and representatives of labor, industry, academia, and the professions.

In 1993, I retired and for over a year I went through a difficult period wondering what to do with the rest of my life. Eventually, I wrote my memoir,
Eat First--You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, and moved to Sarasota, FL.

I embarked on new careers as a writer, public speaker, and community and feminist activist. Currently, I am co-president of the Sarasota chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a member of the local chapter of NOW, a member of the program committee of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, and the first and only honorary member of the Sarasota chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers.

This June, at its annual national conference in Tampa, FL, NOW will present me with an award for being a co-founder and for my work at the EEOC.

I returned to Germany once since I left in 1933, as a speaker on women’s rights for USIA in 1978. I plan to go again for a week this September, at the invitation of the German government.

After that, I plan to spend several days in Antwerp as the guest of the staff of the Red Star Line Museum. That museum, dedicated to the Red Star Line and due to open in the spring of 2013, will have a permanent exhibit about me and my family. This will be my first time back in Antwerp since I left in 1934.

For further information, please see my website at

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Comments to Jacqui Ceballos

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Dr. Eleanor Pam: Women and Violence--a Life's Journey, VFA Board Member, Feminist Icon.

Baby Eleanor

Born to working class parents, I grew up in a slum in Brooklyn, a neighborhood in which
Murder, Incorporated flourished. My father, Simon, was often out of work because he regularly challenged his union's leadership's corrupt practices. They punished him by giving him just enough work to prevent us from starving. He supported us by playing pinochle and poker with burley men in stained undershirts who sat in our kitchen day and night, none of whom had his extraordinary memory for recalling every card played. This continued until he had enough money to go into business for himself.

Although funds were tight, my three brothers were expected to go to college and become professional men. I, the only female, was programmed to become a secretary, get married and procreate promptly.

I was an excellent student, skipping grades three times. In high school I was placed into an Honors Program for Intellectually gifted students. Proud of this academic achievement, my mother, Berta, still preferred that I be tracked into a course offered typing, bookkeeping and shorthand. I would also be expected to contribute to the family finances and help put my brothers through college. My dad, an intellectual and a political activist, stayed out of it, just as he never attended parent-teacher nights or graduations.

Mom and I clashed over my going to college, in the same way we differed over other basic things. In fact, when I was born she took one look at me and burst into tears, then handed me over to the nurse, who was her cousin, and would not touch me again until we left the hospital a week later. This pattern of rejection never changed -- until I married a loving and supportive man (Robert Juceam) with a promising career in law and gave birth to three children (Daniel, Jacquelyn & Gregory).

Actually, I was a battered child. But my mother was an outstanding grandmother, which redeemed her and allowed me eventually to lay down the toxic burden of memory and childhood trauma, and to put the past to rest. Through our common care and love for my children, we had finally become friends and I was able to love her. Now a wife and mother myself, I had miraculously morphed into the daughter she wanted and she became the mother I needed.

But growing up with a rejecting parent was hard. My brothers were spared. Their mother was warm, giving and fun-loving; mine was volatile and dangerous. I imagined it was because I was a girl. So I became an athlete, better than my brothers actually, and the closest I could get to being a boy. Eventually, I became strong enough to stave off the attacks and beatings.

Eleanor Pam in the early years

But in those earlier days, when I was a skinny and vulnerable kid, everything I did and wanted seemed to anger her, even reading. When my mother saw me with a book it became another sign of my deficient character, this one signaling indolence. My sentence was immediate; I was assigned to dust, iron or wash dishes. It was clear to her that I was just hanging around, doing "nothing". I felt like Cinderella, getting all the chores while my brothers were allowed to go out and play. But books were my sustenance. So I read secretly, ingesting them furtively, guiltily, hungrily-often in the dark with a flashlight--and whenever I heard approaching footsteps I'd fling the book out of our 3rd floor tenement window into the filthy alley below, hopefully to be retrieved the next day.

In resisting the vision my maternal parent had in mind for me, a future that most of my friends seemed to happily embrace, I confused us both; I didn't seem to be like everyone else. But my mother yearned for the respectability of being just like everyone else. This was her fantasy of a mother-daughter relationship when one day we would shop together in perfect companionability. She was constantly telling me who to be. I didn't have the answer yet, but I knew I could never be the person she envisioned.

In the end, I won the battle over college. Somehow, I convinced her that I should continue with my academic studies and not become a secretary. Feeling guilty, I mentally compromised and got a part time job in Manhattan as a filing clerk, working four hours each day, five days a week, for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. This entailed a daily subway commute that ate up another two hours of my overcrowded day. Such a grueling schedule of mindless work, plus the rigorous curriculum at school was punishing. But although I was always exhausted, somehow I managed to squeeze in time and energy to write for our high school literary magazine, serve as its editor-in-chief, maintain a respectable grade point average, and receive medals for academic excellence at graduation. Ah youth!

It was understood that I would attend tuition-free Brooklyn College, the place where all in the neighborhood who were college-bound went. And everyone I knew did go to Brooklyn College. I went to Brandeis University, a small, intellectually competitive private school outside Boston, and majored in Philosophy on a work scholarship. I hadn't said a word about my plans to anyone in the family until the acceptance letter came in the mail. As I read its contents I knew my life was going to change dramatically and permanently. I had altered my fate and was getting out. It was the happiest day of my life.

After graduating in 1957 from Brandeis with Honors in Philosophy, I moved to New York's Greenwich Village, raising eyebrows from the folks back home. It also raised suspicions that I was up to no good. In those days, females lived with their parents until they got married. Once again, I was out of step. Still, I acquired three graduate degrees from New York University, including a doctorate.

Kate Millett and Eleanor Pam
at Kate's "Farm"

It was an exciting time to live in the Village. I mingled with many people who were later to become legends, acquired a circle of unique friends and led a free spirited lifestyle that popular parlance dubbed as "bohemian." One day I was introduced to an unusual woman. Her name was *Kate Millett and she lived on the Bowery.

She dragged me off to organizations and protests which espoused causes of every kind and stripe-civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, pacifism-many of them fringe groups too bizarre even for my unformed tastes. On a cold evening in 1968, Kate took me to a meeting that resonated in a way the others had not. We sat in a room with passionate and argumentative women who had recently formed an organization called NOW. I joined, and my life changed again.

My own career had taken off. Although only in my early 30's, I was a full professor and dean at a college at CUNY (City University of New York), and an adjunct professor at New York University's Graduate division. Given my background, it was logical that I co-founded, in concert with Kate--NOW's first Education Committee. She was Chair and I, Vice-Chair. A committee of two, we elected each other. Together, we tackled the daunting job of analyzing curricula and pedagogical trends across the country, K through graduate school.

Kate and I took turns presenting our findings and recommendations in a report that we read at a NOW meeting. Our work later became the foundation for many studies and a raised national, even global consciousness about the systematic bias against girls and women that infected our entire educational system, resulting in dramatic changes to gender based educational practices in this country and others. It was also the precursor for Title IX.

I took feminism to work with me, learning and relearning it each day. Looking at everything through its prism changed my perspective, choices, and values.

By then I was the one of the highest ranking female administrators in our university and felt it was time to use my clout to make some much needed changes. I went to bat for individual women on the faculty and staff, especially those who were being unfairly denied advancement, tenure, promotion and other basic rights, but I had a more ambitious agenda and wanted to extend its reach into the community as well. So I convinced the president of my college--and I still can't believe that I had the nerve to even suggest it--to purchase a large private home in the neighborhood which I staffed with women from different offices and departments. This became the first Women's Center.

We offered counseling services, legal assistance and help in areas of finance, health and mental health, employment, divorce, custody, sexual abuse, mortgage applications, etc. At the opening ceremony for the Center, many politicians, dignitaries, and civic leaders were in attendance, including the Chancellor of the University. The media also showed up. It was such an impressive concept that newspaper articles heralding its existence were read into the Congressional Record.

But I also utilized the Center for more subversive purposes. It became headquarters for feminist political activity within the university, a centralized communications system. We supported and financed a coalition group of female faculty that spanned all the colleges within our university and printed and distributed its newsletter. We were the support apparatus for disaffected and disenfranchised women whether they came from the custodial or clerical staff or held high academic or administrative rank. Females in our workplace were discriminated against, whatever their level of employment. Eventually, we escalated to a class action that cited CUNY for discrimination against women. It took ten years of contentious litigation but the lawsuit, which was the largest and most complex of its time, was finally settled on terms highly favorable to the female faculty and staff.

My advocacy was problematic because technically I was management, not labor-and thus considered by some as a traitor to my class. But feminism trumped it all and I brushed off the criticism.

I had moved on to another college and was elected the Department Chairperson of Behavioral and Social Sciences. In this capacity I was exposed to the wide-ranging problems of student/teacher sexual harassment within academia, i.e., coerced sex in exchange for a passing grade. Far too often, I received shocking complaints and requests for intervention from students about male faculty who were under my supervision.

Eleanor Pam with Jean Harris after her release from prison for killing the
Scarsdale Diet Doctor, Herman Tarnower.

There were parallel issues just as troubling, I was learning, on the faculty/staff end-about supervisors who forced sexual favors from subordinates, rewarding or punishing female employees in proportion to their cooperation and using job security and career advancement as chips on their board game. This went beyond abuse of power; these were the tactics of bullies and predators, those who profited from the vulnerability of others. I understood vulnerability very well, so inevitably, sexual harassment became my next feminist cause.

In partnership with a like-minded colleague, I went after these men, some of whom had positions at the highest echelon of our academic world. We exposed, and then forced a vice-chancellor and the comptroller of the university, among others, from their jobs. But a case by case offensive was not enough. We needed the central administration to bless our point of view and formally make it theirs; so we lobbied for a university policy against the pernicious practices we were uncovering.

A sexual harassment policy was a relatively advanced idea for that time. Most corporations, agencies and bureaucracies did not have them. The issue itself was not a popular one, but was trivialized and mocked as an invention of man-hating feminists who were deliberately misrepresenting normal, innocent flirting. However, as a result of our passionate insistence about the need for an overall, preemptive policy, the Chancellor's office eventually set aside their hostility to the idea and capitulated. And they gave us the assignment of drafting the framework, a task we happily embraced as we set about creating hearing and disciplinary procedures, careful to include due process protections for the accused.

After vigorous resistance by the faculty/staff union (which had a vocal majority male membership), a strong university policy against sexual harassment was adopted and is still in place today. Subsequently, I was appointed as a hearing officer to investigate and make determinations in such cases. In a really sweet side victory, I also managed to convince the union leadership to adopt a sexual harassment policy for its own paid employees.

But all this activity was tame compared with what my life segued into afterwards-a journey into a world of blood and tears as I took on the weightier issues of domestic violence and women in prison.

Mayor of NYC, Rudolph Giuliani

The Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani invited me to join his Commission to Combat Family Violence, offering me the chance to do work that was especially meaningful to me because of my own history as a battered child. I stayed with the Commission in this non-paying position for eight years.

My next professional step was a natural one. I accepted a position as Visiting Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, another school within the CUNY system. Within a year I had founded a Domestic Violence Center and became its Director. This Center was vibrant and the first of its kind. Also a first was a University Domestic Violence Policy that I proposed, wrote and implemented.

Each day at work I was baptized anew in a sea of tears. The traffic into my office was unending as stories of beatings, threats and terror poured in. Each tale was more unthinkable than the last. I struggled to find options for these tormented victims, but solutions were elusive. Even more unfortunate and invisible were the women I hadn't met, the ones who didn't come into my office--because they could not, and would never summon up the courage to come forward and identify themselves as victims of abuse.

It wasn't just ideology that plunged me into increasing activism about domestic violence. It was rage. Here was a problem so pervasive and cruel that no one seemed to have the tools to address it adequately. Perhaps my early life predisposed me to indentifying with wounded women, but I prefer to believe it was also an ordinary sense of mercy.

An important goal was to get an anti-stalking law for New York. Shockingly, our state did not have one. Together with a coalition of determined advocates, we finally succeeded in persuading the state legislature to pass such a bill. But it took us ten years to overcome ferocious resistance from opposition groups and politicians.

Increasingly, I began to speak out in the national media and in lectures around the country about the problem of domestic violence, giving newspaper interviews and appearing on network radio and television. I was on fire. The tabloids pursued me every time a celebrity assaulted a woman and his bad behavior became public knowledge. Apparently, there was commercial, perhaps even entertainment value in domestic violence, and I was always good for a quote. As my advocacy increased, so did my visibility. This noise eventually led to an interesting invitation by the FBI.

They asked me to come to Quantico Virginia and participate in a think tank at their Behavioral Sciences unit. There was an epidemic of intimate partner abuse by law enforcement officers across the country and the FBI was taking this problem very seriously. They thought it would be useful to bring experts and professionals together so this issue could be studied and addressed. I agreed, arrived at the marine base by train, was appointed as an Honorary Member of the Advisory Board, delivered a paper about cops who batter in intimate relationships which they later published, and appeared on a panel which was beamed to every police precinct in the country via the FBI closed circuit television system.

The following year I was invited back to deliver another paper. This one described the dynamics of law enforcement officers who killed their spouses and/or children and then committed suicide, i.e., police homicide-suicide, an area which few knew anything about. Thereafter, I found myself in hot demand by the media whenever a story like this broke.

Inevitably, my outspokenness got me into trouble. One article containing many critical quotes from me about the New York City Police department landed on the front page of the New York Times, Sunday issue. The story--and my name--could not have been more prominent. The mayor was not pleased as he was very fond of his cops. Nor was my boss, since he was the president of a criminal justice college that specialized in the education of police officers--who were also the majority cohort of its student body. I offered no apologies or regrets.

One evening, watching television, I was shocked to see a woman I knew casually being led away in handcuffs. A retired police officer, ex-nun and a parochial school teacher, Sheila had just been arrested for the murder of her rapist, kidnapper and torturer. Despite her credible background, the jury convicted her on the prosecution's theory that she had been a scorned woman who murdered him after a date gone wrong. This was patently absurd, especially since Sheila was a life-long lesbian. In fact, she had killed in self defense, but the judge gave her a sentence of 25 years to life.

In those days the bar for proving rape was very high. The public also had a bias and aversion towards females associated with violent acts. The criminal justice system gave them heavier sentences than men and treated them disparately and with gender prejudice. I was to see this first-hand over the next several decades.

Ten and a half years after she was first convicted, Sheila reached out from prison to ask for help. I gave it to her, launching an intense media and public relations campaign to tell her story. Within six months a federal judge vacated her sentence and she was released. That was the beginning of my interest in the plight of women in prison.

I met many inmates during my visits to Sheila. Since she had been incarcerated in a maximum security facility, the women I encountered were serving heavy time for serious crimes, primarily homicide. After Sheila was released I began receiving requests from her former "colleagues" to review their cases, speak out on their behalf, advocate for their freedom. After listening to their stories I came to believe that the issue of women in prison was a cutting edge feminist problem. I discovered that most of the female prison population had been battered in their earlier lives. In too many instances they seemed to be serving excessive or unjust sentences, especially compared with their male counterparts and often because of their male counterparts.

I could not help everyone, but did what I could with varying degrees of involvement and success. There were so many, and so few of us to doing this kind of work. Before long, I was visiting and corresponding with them, some of whom are so high profile and famous that popular

pictured: Eleanor Pam, Pamela Smart's mother, Oprah Winfrey

books and films were based on their characters and crimes. I advocated for several of them in the print and electronic media-and still do.

There is one mountain I am still climbing with an uncertain prognosis for success. For almost nineteen years I have been heavily invested in the case of Pamela Smart, a woman so vilified by the press that her innocence, as well as her image, has been fatally compromised and poisoned. I believe she is a loving, caring person who did not and was never capable of the crime for which she was incarcerated, and I agreed to act as her academic mentor helping her achieve two Masters Degrees. I am also her legal advisor, advocate, counselor, public relations guru, media spokesperson, and concerned friend. I accept every press invitation and opportunity to espouse her innocence and promote her freedom. My latest media appearance was on the Oprah Winfrey Show several months ago.

I have been lucky to know and work with many of the pioneers of the women's movement, the giants of my generation who changed the world. Original, generous, brilliant and courageous, these women have touched my life and enriched it beyond measure. I am humbled and grateful to have been in their company and to have witnessed the miracle and the revolution as it was taking form.

I've also had the singular privilege of serving on the Board of the Veteran Feminists of America, the organization which honors and acts as the institutional memory of the feminist movement. In April 2009, Barbara Love and I co-chaired a VFA luncheon in Ft Lauderdale Florida where we gave recognition to contemporary feminist leaders and pioneers of the early movement currently living in that state. There, we were moved

Eleanor with husband Robert, grandson Ezra

and impressed by those excellent women of the next generation who are carrying on the work with integrity and passion.

Feminism has been my North Star and the lens through which I view the world. I was honored to be a pioneer during those early days and to witness how our feminist agenda rapidly evolved, ignited into a blazing passion for gender justice-and then into a movement, later consecrated by the exhilarating and unforgettable march down Fifth Avenue in August 1970, another highlight of my life. Because of our Sisters in the movement, my grandchildren, Jordan and Jake-and the new grandson, Ezra born in April, have inherited a kinder and more equitable world in which to work and love.

When I look through my life in feminism I realize that I have been guided and centered by the eternal question: Am I my sister's keeper? And the answer--ever and always--is unconditionally yes, yes, and yes!

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I was born in 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the first child of Dorothy and Loren Hackett. [My mother's family name was Grealish, but she called herself Dorothy Hackett] My parents had both worked for the company that made Windex and other household products—she in marketing, he as a chemist. She made more money than he did, but had to quit her job when they married.

We soon moved to Houston after my father began working for Goodyear as a chemist working on synthetic rubber, a critical wartime priority. Houston was much smaller back then, in part because air conditioning was still rare. We lived in a working/lower-middle- class area until I was 11. I’m grateful that this was a time and place when kids could pretty much run around outside on their own, often barefoot. I was a tomboy, played cowboys and Indians (very politically incorrect), caught tadpoles in ditches, and most of all wanted the horse I never got. Most of the kids on the block were boys, who were my usual playmates. I also spent a lot of time reading and did well in school, though hated it that girls couldn’t wear jeans.

We moved to a close-in suburb of Houston just before I started junior high. By then I had a much younger brother, whose birth in 1950 ended my existence as an only child when I was 9. My father had gotten a better job, and Bellaire—though within the Houston school system—had better schools than my old neighborhood. After junior high, I moved into a brand new high school, which was first-class academically. Debate and speech were my main extracurricular activities; as perks there were trips to tournaments around Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The debaters were a political lot, and I was part of a liberal Democratic caucus, working to elect candidates like Ralph Yarborough.

My parents were moderate Midwestern Taft/Eisenhower Republicans. (My mother came from St. Louis and my father from a small town in northwest Missouri.) Despite my Texas childhood and youth and having lived in New York City most of my life, I’m in many ways a Midwesterner in temperament. My mother remained a housewife, although she was a frustrated writer. For a while she had a column in a neighborhood newspaper, but most of her writing remained unpublished—including several unpublished children’s books, a study of a Korean Methodist bishop and many, many long letters to uncounted people she met along the way. She became far more liberal as she grew older and certainly was sympathetic to feminism, in part I’m sure because of her own life.

I did well enough in high school and SAT scores to aspire to one of the “Seven Sister” colleges, in particular Barnard. Two of the three schools to which I applied accepted me, but offered no student aid and were relatively expensive; moreover, my parents weren’t keen on my going so far. A scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas settled the matter. My mother hoped that I would become more social there, learn to play bridge (which my parents enjoyed) and join a sorority. One of the less social sororities accepted me, but I never learned bridge and rarely dated.

Polish/German Socialist Rosa Luxemburg, was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen

In 1963, SMU was a pretty conservative place (although regularly targeted for Communist tendencies by the John Birch Society). Female students could be “grounded,” i.e., confined to your dorm on a weekend, for getting caught wearing jeans in the Student Center, as once happened to me. Nonetheless, SMU had some inspiring professors and I acquired an interest in history. There was no hint of feminist ferment on campus, but I discovered De Beauvoir’s
Second Sex, wrote a paper for a psychology course on the stupidity of tests that allegedly measured “femininity” and “masculinity,” in part based on breadth of knowledge. As a history major with a particular interest in Germany, I was especially offended by a question regarding the date of the Franco-Prussian War. Looking for a woman as a subject in a European history course, I wrote a term paper on Polish/German Socialist Rosa Luxemburg.

After graduation and a year in Hamburg, Germany, on a Fulbright, in 1964 I headed to Columbia for graduate school in history, intending to write a dissertation on 19th century German political history. Along the way, inspired in part by a history of early 19th century England that put the suffrage battle on level with other political movements, such as labor unrest and the Irish rebellion, I decided to find out whether Germany had experienced its own women’s movement. (If so, it had been omitted from all of the German histories I’d read.) It turned out that the German women’s movement was numerically the largest in Europe and quite active in international women’s organizations.

In 1967, I set out for a year of dissertation research in Germany, which involved many days in libraries and dusty and uncataloged archives trying to uncover something about the German women whom historians had so long ignored. Thus I missed the student uprising at Columbia, though I was present for similar events in Germany. In both cases, the dismissive behavior of male students toward women activists furthered an incipient rebirth of feminism.

Back at Columbia in the aftermath of the ’68 student uprising, I worked on my dissertation, graded papers, eventually taught as a lecturer, and was active with Columbia Women’s Liberation (CWL) as well as with the campus active antiwar movement. This was still a time when the Ivy League undergrad colleges were still all-male and women professors were few and far between. Tellingly, the restrooms were marked: Male, Female and Faculty. The history department contained no female professors; indeed, one elderly historian openly asserted that there would be one only over his dead body. Not surprisingly, affirmative action in faculty hiring was a leading cause. CWL collected statistics, promoted affirmative action procedures, as well as agitated for pay equity between male and female janitorial staffs. CWL activists included Kate Millett, Sidney Abbott, Ann Sutherland Harris, Barbara Buonchristiano, and Harriet Zellner. In addition to CWL, I was part of a consciousness-raising group, lobbied and demonstrated for abortion rights, and was present at events that included the 1970 March for Equality and the notorious Congress to Unite Women. I also attended an early women’s studies conference organized by Sheila Tobias at Cornell.

Starting during my graduate school years, and continuing through the years when I taught, I was active in women’s organizations and caucuses within the historical profession, working for both affirmative action policies for women historians. the inclusion of women in history and the acceptance of women’s history as a legitimate subject. I also gave conference papers and commented and served on program committees for several of the Berkshire Conferences on Women’s History. While at Columbia, I taught the first European women’s history seminar in the School of General Studies, and thereafter taught a variety of women’s history in addition to more traditional courses. While at Columbia, I also assisted Ann Calderwood, who recognized the need for a feminist academic journal and on her own published Feminist Studies until the University of Maryland took over its publication in the late 1970s.

Working on Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign in 1968 I met the man I married, in 1972, Stoney McMurray, an engineer and another former Texan. In 1973 we set out for St. Louis, where I’d been offered a position at Washington University. What seemed like a good opportunity for both of us turned out to be a disappointment. I finished my dissertation but the teaching job ended after a year; and the economic downturn, which hit St. Louis hard, made jobs scarce for him. When he got an offer from his former employer two years later, we moved back east, initially to New Jersey, and then New York. Our first child, Eugene was born in 1977. (Gene—who recently married—is now a partner in a computer consulting company.) Two years later we moved to Brooklyn, where our daughter Louisa was born in 1980. (She’s now finishing a master’s degree in library science.) We’ve now been in Brooklyn, in the same house in Flatbush, for over 30 years, the longest by far that I’ve lived anywhere. My husband has been an active partner in caring for the children. He’s also a gourmet cook.

pictured: Amy's Daughter Louisa, Aileen Hernandez, Amy Hackett

After returning east, I taught off and on in short-term assignments. My major advocacy commitment from the early 1980s to the mid-‘90s was in public education, for my own children’s schools and beyond. I also worked as a freelance editor and translator. The realities of publishing are such that a historian with a background on Germany is likely to end up working on Nazis, World War II and the Holocaust, not women’s history. Thus I was primary editor and one translator of an encyclopedia of the Third Reich and worked with Robert Lifton on his study of Nazi doctors. With a need for more than freelance income and children approaching college age, I turned to nonprofit fundraising. I ended this chapter of my career as director of institutional relations at Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), thus returning to feminist issues.

I first learned about VFA through Jo Freeman, whom I’d known earlier through academic connections. I encountered her again through local Brooklyn politics. I think I attended my first of many VFA events in 1994 and then volunteered to be VFA treasurer in 2001. Aside from keeping track of VFA funds, I work as a freelance editor, primarily in history. I also belong to a small study group of women historians, mainly in German history and interested in gender issues, who have met regularly for social and intellectual exchanges in New York since the 1970s—very much another expression of the feminist movement.

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Born in Milwaukee in 1948, I am not really a pioneer feminist but it does win me the possibility of knowing, friending, sharing with many who have more than earned such a lofty title. Aside from fasting for the ERA in 1982, the second most thrilling component in my feminist life is the repeated saving, rescuing, informing that the American Women's Movement has given me.

NOW tenets are basically a list of the pillars of my life. From lesbian rights to reproductive freedom, I am always the beneficiary of NOW. I have had two abortions, stood against Sarah Palin, lobbied against DADT (Don't ask, don't tell) celebrated body images, worked for the ERA, identified as straight, lesbian and bi, marched for equality in race, sex and gender. While I was not in that famous 1966 picture with my idols sitting with crossed ankles on folding chairs, the National Organization for Women has filled my daily life for over 35 years.

One experience that rises to the surface is how the Veteran Feminists of America gave me the courage to open the front door, leave the house and face life after a full year of not being able to even turn the door knob or start the car. The fear of going out of the house began in the mid-1990's. I fell into a depression which I would attribute to losing heart, losing intention, living without being of service to anyone The VFA and the women of the Second Wave reached right into my life and called me back to a life of activism

In Spring, 2003, I received a questionnaire via email. It was from a woman whose work I had read 25 years before, Barbara Love. Her book, written with Sydney Abbott, Sappho was a Right-On Woman, was one of the most important in my feminist journey. Barbara was just beginning a great treasure hunt to collect information by and about the women & men of the Second Wave. Her dream was to create a directory of pioneer feminists complete with their bios, education, stats and, when possible, information would be first hand.

The day it arrived, I filled it out and attached this little note ~

June 6, 2003

Dearest Barbara,

I am every so grateful for your work. Over the years, as I pass through bookstores, I can never resist searching feminist history books for my name - for the work on the Equal Rights Amendment (which the Illinois Assembly passed recently!!). Of course, I find nothing. I find a bit on Sanger, on Anthony, on my foremothers - but the 60's, 70's and 80's - so many wonderful women go unnoticed.

I see that you are in Danbury. I hope you are going to consider including my most beloved friend, Laura Nyro. She died in her home on Zinn Road in Danbury in April 1997. I was visiting with her in March & April. She was a true feminist woman and artist. If you need any information about her, I am in her service. She was my closest friend.

If I can be of assistance - it will be my privilege to do so. Please ask me for anything,

Zoe Nicholson

I heard back from Barbara in just a few days. She asked me if I would like to help her transform Questionaires into biographies. On June 18, 2003, she emailed me four completed bios to illustrate how the process would work; Marie C. Wilson, Gloria Steinem, Virginia Carter and Deborah Rogow. I was hooked. And one week later I got my first Q - it was from the woman who founded the first woman-owned art gallery in SOHO.

One by one the Q's began to arrive; the first women studies program, the first abortion clinic, the first self-help group, the first to start a NOW chapter, AAUW, NWPC, on and on and on. Their lives were thrilling, one more inspiring than the next. Sit-ins, marches, and protests. Publishing and music and art. Academics and politics. And ministers and rabbis. Reading their own answers was intimate and felt almost holy; certainly a sacred trust. In the course of two years I was sent over 100 Qs and translated them into short bios. And one day I got an email from Barbara that said - here is your Q - Surprise! And I got to write my own biography for Feminists Who Changed America 1963 - 1975.

Zoe Nicholson

Proud member of the Veteran Feminists of America and life-long member of NOW, Zoe was born in Milwaukee, WI, and earning a M.A. in Ethics & Religion, Nicholson life's focus has been feminism and spirituality. Beginning with Catholic Church reform and teaching, she has worked for women's equality. In 1975, she opened and operated The Magic Speller Bookstore, a women's bookstore in Newport Beach, CA. In 1982, she joined six women in Springfield, IL, in a public and political fast for 37 days in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her memoir is The Hungry Heart ~ A Women's Fast for Justice, Lune Soleil Press 2004.

Sitting in the dark of night and the dark of personal self-imposed isolation, it felt as though these daring, courageous women were speaking to me, whispering to me, allowing me to meet with them. I would pour over the 22 answers and unfold them into paragraphs, hoping to do them justice. Their lives were so brave, so creative, so insightful that my heart and soul caught on fire again. They made me remember how much I had loved chapter meetings, standing on a corner with a sign, conferring with feminists. There was no more taking it for granted or thinking it was all in the past. It was 2005 and there was work to be done, women and girls to serve and this book to promote. I looked for the nearest NOW chapter, gathered the courage to leave the house and take a chance with my life again.

So while everyone else who picks up this astounding book, Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975 teeming with bios of feminist change makers, I see a personal liberation that broke the chains of my agoraphobia and healed a broken heart. The Second Wave has carried me body and soul to liberation again and again and I am so grateful.

Today, at 62, I still have not peaked as there is so much to do. A few years ago it became loudly apparent to me that all social justice movements are seeking the same thing; the end of the oppressor/oppressed paradigm. Age, religion, class, sex, gender and race are all intertwined and the advancement of one or another will never be complete until all categories have full civil rights. With that epiphany, I changed my business card from Feminist to Equality Activist. That shifted everything in my life; everything.

There is no disparity requiring reconciliation between my work in the queer movement, the women's movement, reproductive justice, immigration, ageism, etc. What had felt like too many things, too much going on, became all one rushing river of justice.

I am the founder and president of Pacific Shore NOW and was the National NOW liaison to the 2009 National Equality March. I am the founder of "ERA Once and For All". I am the NWPC National ERA Liaison. I serve on the Board of the Veteran Feminists of America and am their advisor on the ERA campaign.

However, at this time I am proud to be speaking in conjunction with the documentary, "March On." Being featured in this movie has given me to opportunity to speak about the oppressor/oppressed paradigm in the context of the LGBTQAI Movement. This branch on the tree of liberation is on fire right now due to the roar about Marriage Equality, the promise of repealing DADT, the passing of I-ENDA and the repeal of DOMA.

The Queer Movement has taught me the power of coming out - coming out everyday as life offers the question. I am bisexual. I am a feminist. I have had two abortions. I am Buddhist. I love my life. Maybe Oprah would call it standing in your truth but I call it coming out. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

As I have heard Gloria Steinem say and have experienced directly, the Equality Movement breathes. It catches on in one vein while languishing in another but, in reality, it is all one body of truth - the longing for EQUALITY. All six are matched in longing, all six are inextricably intertwined but each will lurch on its own ~ offering the contagion of success. I am asked on a weekly basis how to sustain hope, how to manage burnout, how to manage it all. It is easy because it is all the same because no one is equal until everyone is equal.

Zoe holds a B.A. in Theology, Quincy University, 1969 and a M.A. in Ethics, USC, 1975. She began her professional life teaching high school for five years. In 1976, she opened and operated The Magic Speller Bookstore, a women's bookstore in Newport Beach, CA. In 1982, she joined six women in Springfield, Illinois, in a public and political fast for 37 days in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her memoir is The Hungry Heart ~ A Women's Fast for Justice, from Lune Soleil Press.

With the close of her independent bookstore, she served for a year as Director of the Orange County Free Clinic. In 1985, she completed the professional computer program at Computer Learning Center and worked in hi tech, software development and recruiting for fifteen years. Since 2001, she is founding partner and manages Eclipse Data Systems and Eclipse Global. She is a member of the ERA Roundtable, a life-long member of NOW and proud member of the Veteran Feminists of America

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pictured: Alice Powell and Mary Stanley

I was born in 1927. My parents were in vaudeville. When it was time for me to be born, they returned to my mother’s hometown of East Grand Fork, Minnesota. But the hospital was across the river in Grand Forks, North Dakota, so I guess you could say I was born in North Dakota.

Vaudeville died shortly thereafter and my parents settled in New York City. My father became a theatrical agent for William Morris. My mother, a real beauty, became a manicurist at the Best Barber Shop in Times Square. There she met and fell in love with the boss’ son and divorced my father when I was 3, and married my stepfather (whose father was the first manager of Jack Dempsey). My stepfather legally adopted me. Both my fathers were Jewish. My Catholic mother sent me to Catholic school.

We lived in the Bronx on the east side of the Grand Concourse not too far from Yankee Stadium and always hated the Yankees. Why? They wouldn't let the kids go in free when there were empty seats while the Giants always did. And we used to slip under the turnstile at the elevated train with permission because the man knew we were not going any place.

The first place I go to eat when In NYC is the Carnegie Deli (it must be the Jewish part of me). As a child I went to Mass and Communion every school day morning. My mother gave me 10 cents for breakfast after church and instead of going to the bakery I went to the Jewish Deli next door, where they grilled the hotdogs in the window; every morning I would go for my hot dog with sauerkraut and a celery tonic. One day a neighbor lady saw me there and told my mother what I was eating for breakfast. I was enjoying it so much at 7:30 in the morning that my mother laughed and said "That's my Mary." It was okay by her. Memories…… Memories

During this marriage, my mother endured nine miscarriages and finally gave birth to my sister, Joyce (now deceased). They divorced when Joyce was three years old and my mother moved us to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was 14 years old and went to work immediately as a waitress. My mother had to go to beauty school to get her license?as there was no reciprocity between NY and Wisconsin.

During World War II, Milwaukee was a popular Navy weekend “leave” town. I met a young sailor three years my senior and thought I was in love. We married in 1943 and were together two days before he went overseas. I had to leave my Catholic High School because I was now a married woman. When he came home from the war two years later, we had three children in three-and-a-half years. He didn’t work; I did. He was abusive and I was miserable, especially when the police were called and would do nothing because they did not see him beating me. Finally, one night after a police visit, and after all had gone to sleep, I took my three children and left, hiding until a few days later. My ex-husband was subsequently committed to a mental asylum.

I got the money to go to Portland, Oregon, where my mother lived and where I had a good job waiting for me. I started work as a waitress at the Best Seafood Restaurant in downtown Portland, working nights (5 pm to 1 am). During the day my grandmother took care of my children, none of school age. My eldest was three when I left my husband, my middle one-and-a-half and youngest three months. Guess what? I was pregnant again – thankfully I was referred to a physician who performed a safe, clean, although illegal abortion in his office for $100. How could I raise the three children I already had, much less another?

To increase my income, I went to work days in direct door-to-door sales. With my outgoing personality, I was a natural. I made enough to buy a three-story house. One of my customers at the restaurant was a progressive bank manager who financed the mortgage. I rented out the three rooms on the top floor to three working women, and this rent made the payments. My family, mother and grandmother shared the first two floors. One of my renters recommended me to her boss of a new freezer food-plan company new to Oregon. I was impressed at the interview and gave it a try, My success at these sales was such that I left my waitress job to work fulltime for the Rich Food Plan.

A promise was made that in six months the most successful agent would become sales manager . If that promise had been kept, it would have been me. But they brought in a man from out of town to be the manager. Looking at the sales records, he was surprised that the top name on the board was a woman. He asked me how I did it, and being a smart aleck, I told him, “Put a ring on my finger and you’ll find out.” He did. We got married three months later in 1953 and lived mostly happily for over 47 years until his death in 2000.

Jay Stanley legally adopted my children and we were a family. He had more confidence in my ability than I myself did and lovingly pushed me forward and joined in my interests. I had not voted–Jay was a Republican and made me become one, too. He was very knowledgeable politically, but not active. The first years of our marriage we were on the road selling ourselves and “time” for a radio program. We had a client that was in our old freezer-food business; we worked for him for about six months and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and then in 1961 to Fresno, California to open our own frozen food business.

Jay ran the sales and I ran the business. My first big decision after arranging the financing at the bank was to hire a meat cutter. The man we inherited would not take orders from a woman and he quit – so what! I hired a better man. By 1964, our business was going well. Barry Goldwater, my Arizona hero, was running for President. I joined the Republican Women’s Club, got active locally, then statewide, and was co-chair of my county’s Ronald Reagan campaign for Governor of California. We won.

Now comes the best part of my long life. Ronald Reagan appointed me to the California Commission on the Status of Women During the years I served I was the only businesswoman on the commission and the only woman from the Central Valley. Fresno and the Valley are not Los Angeles, nor do the women have the same opportunities as those in L.A. or San Francisco. I believe my lack of formal education allowed me to relate more to the average woman in those days. I was elected treasurer by the other commissioners, planned and prepared the budget and as a result, was invited to speak before women’s groups, like the Business and Professional Women, AAUW and others.

I joined NOW in 1967, the year they adopted the ERA as a goal. My feminism and commitment came full circle with my entry into the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. I had joined local NOW before there was an NWPC, if only to prove that Republicans can be feminists, too. I still maintain my NOW membership but FRESNO, my home town no longer has a chapter. Our NWPC-Fresno chapter has 124 members, we meet monthly at a dinner meeting and 45-60 attend every month.

Millie Jeffrey, the 3rd Pres of NWPC changed my life by asking me to develop a logo for the caucus so that we could wear the logo on a pin as NOW did to identify each other. Jill Ruckelhaus gave a fabulous speech at the 1977 Conference. Using her photo and her wording I developed a poster, which is still used today. We have printed and sold over 12,000 posters about the event.

Many years have passed since those early exciting days of the Political Caucus. Today there are more and more women running for office –and winning. But there is still very much to do. One day we will have a woman president and there will be as many women in Congress as men. Until that time our work goes on. And, as long as I have the energy I will be doing as much as I can to make it happen.

JILL RUCKELHAUS COMMENTS ABOUT MARY: I would document the life story of Mary Stanley, who still, to this day, travels the country promoting pro-choice women with her merchandise table and passion for electing women to office. I believe strongly that feminism is the movement of many movements, the story of individuals, each with deeply personal experiences, diverse and profound. All told, our stories speak many truths. Jill Ruckelhaus.

Mary has made great friends among the women she helped elect and for whom she did pro bono fundraising BEFORE they became national Icons --- including Donna Brazile, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe, and Nancy Kassebaum; Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Jackie Speire. And, she headed the Republicans for Geraldine Ferraro for vice president.campaign.

The Fresno Chapter she cofounded elected the first woman to the state senate and has 3 members who served in the Assembly in this RED district -- the mayor, a council member and the County Sheriff and District Attorney and the tax collector, auditor/ controller. Three members are on the Board of County Supervisors, three on the school board. All, Republicans and Democrats, are prochoice progressives.

Mary has received many honors for her work, including VFA’s medal of honor which she received in August, 2009 in Stockton, CA. Jacqui Ceballos

Contact Mary Stanley:

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos:

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I was born in 1938 and grew up in a working-class neighborhood of the Bronx, NY. I was the eldest of three daughters; my brother was born when I was 16. My mother, the first of seven daughters of a working mother, had to leave high school to contribute to her family s finances, which she deeply regretted. She and my father, a high school graduate, were adamant that I go to college and have a career.

Early on I got the sense from her that raising children was a duty. It was what women did, and certainly wasn t fun. She wouldn t allow me to baby sit. You ll have plenty of that when you have your own children, she d say. This wasn t the prevailing pro-natal message other neighborhood girls absorbed. Most of them were first-generation American and went to public schools. For boys, education to prepare for a good career was most important; for girls it was important to get a good job as a secretary, sales clerk or similar occupation until they married and had children.

The seed of my interest in women s history sprouted in first grade with a classmate s report about her aunt, the first woman to become Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health. That a woman held such a high position impressed me very much; the only career women I knew were teachers or nurses. Also learning about great women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart excited me, and I was thrilled by the work of the WACs and the WAVES in WWII.

In fifth grade I was awarded admission to a non-neighborhood school for intellectually gifted children and in 1955 graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. However, despite having the best public education in the U.S. I received no career guidance. After graduation I got an administrative job and attended Hunter College at night.

In 1957 I met Warren Kaplan, just out of a two-year Army stint. I was impressed with his ambition, intelligence and sense of humor and he fully appreciated my intelligence and ambition. We married at the end of 1958. In 1960 I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Warren became a stockbroker, and I got my license and joined him. We worked together in various aspects of finance and later in business. I was entrepreneurial before the term was known.

Around this time I read Simone de Beauvoir s The Second Sex, which affected me greatly. I d known that women were not respected for their societal contributions and were expected to dedicate themselves exclusively to husband and children. I knew of areas where women didn t even have equal legal rights, but I didn t think anything could be done to change that.

Until early autumn of 1965. I was pregnant and one day visited a high school friend. On her coffee table was an AAUW magazine with an article about discrimination against girls. We read the article and decided to write a book about the various aspects of this discrimination. We even went so far as to list the chapters of the book and allocate who would write each topic.

After my son was born I returned to work as an insurance agent with New York Life. I d been impressed that NYL had women agents and especially that its board included a woman, though common coffee break chatter was Who did she sleep with to get there? By now The Feminine Mystique was the rage. I read it and immediately called my friend: Emily, forget our book. It s been written.

The conclusion of The Feminine Mystique noted the founding of the National Organization for Women. I searched in NY and Washington yellow pages and libraries but couldn t find NOW. The first chapter, NY NOW, was formed in 1967, but I didn t know about it. As far as I knew there was no NOW office and no meetings.

Yet NOW s activity put it in the news and by the early 1970 s I d found it and joined the NYC chapter. Though I paid my dues, I seldom attended meetings. Then I began receiving notes from someone named Jacqui Ceballos (NOW-NY President) about upcoming events and meetings: Judy, we miss you, please come to this or that meeting or event. So I started attending and signed up for the Image, Religion, and Child Care committees. My first feminist action was a letter to Hallmark Cards about a traditionally skewed birth announcement or birthday card, and I participated in actions at newspaper offices to protest sex discrimination in newspapers and employment practices, especially sex-segregated help-wanted ads.

I found news articles about women of achievement of particular interest and began collecting postage stamps and first-day covers (i.e. an envelope cancelled the first day the stamp is issued) about women s history and noticed that a very small percentage of stamps honored women of achievement.

Soon I was very busy as the chapter s fundraiser and my interest in historic women s items worked to the chapter s advantage. At that time gambling was illegal except as fundraisers by non-profit organizations, so for our first one I produced a Monte Carlo night. I rented roulette wheels, sold Monopoly-like dollars with images of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott in lieu of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.

The denominations were $100, $500 and $1,000 to instill the idea of women getting used to handling large sums of money. The prices charged for the currency were $1, $2 and $5, and guests bought it to use for their roulette bets. The items were auctioned following the roulette games and people used their winnings to buy things such as books, store and restaurant gift certificates, toys and gifts, gourmet baskets, all donated by local businesses. A book might be first offered at $100 and the winning bid might be $1,000. The currency concept and auction added much fun and the night netted the chapter $700. Later I was elected chapter treasurer. I m happy to say the bottom line profited greatly during that period.

NOW was my primary organization, but I was also a member of AAUW, WEAL, NWPC and other feminist groups at various times. I subscribed to feminist magazines and avidly absorbed articles on women s history.

I proposed to my NOW Board that the chapter produce a collectible Women s History series of First-Day Covers. From 1976 to 1980 I produced and sold approximately 180 different covers in quantities of between 500 and 1,000 each. The series was successful in raising money for NOW-NY, raising consciousness among philatelists about the achievements of women, and pressuring the U.S. Postal Service into issuing more stamps to honor women s history and achievements. I am proudest that many subjects of the NOW-NY FDCs were later commemorated on U.S. postage stamps. (The First Day Covers are sold on the web to collectors by Knottywood Treasures (

All this time Warren and I were raising our son Ronald and daughter Elissa, as well as working in our business dealing in first-day covers. My family attended marches together, many times for ERA and Choice, and once my father joined us. I continued to be involved with NOW and attended conferences around the country. Warren was also a member of NOW; his main interests were abortion rights, gay rights, equal rights, education and career opportunity for women, and stopping violence against women.

Judith Kaplan, organizer of the "Women Speak Out Now" April 6, 2002 conference, summed up the results, "We accomplished exactly what we wanted to. Our goals included celebrating the past 30 years in the advancement of women's rights and women's choices and creating an Agenda to continue to shape women's future rights and choices."
Pictured: Sheila Jaffee, Judy Kaplan and Mary Cameron

We d started our business selling packets of used postage stamps for resale to gift stores in planetariums, history, space and aviation museums and nature centers. In 1980 we moved to Ocala, Florida to expand, where I immediately became active in Ocala-Marion County NOW. Florida was then a target state for passage of the ERA, and our chapter was especially active on that front. We later moved to Boca Raton and I transferred to the South Palm Beach chapter.

I joined VFA as soon as it was formed. On April 6, 2002 I organized an all-day event with NOW-SPBC and FAU Women s Studies Department at the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University. Titled Women Speak Out, the concept was to hear the concerns and suggested solutions of students enrolled in Women s Studies classes. The first time VFA included young women as part of a main event, it was a most successful day.

The women s history collection--the stamps, first-day covers, signed letters, books and artifacts I d begun collecting in the 1960 s grew in quantity and value over the years. Called the Kaplan Women s History Collection, in 1990 I donated it to Central Florida Community College in Ocala for a Women s History Center. When CFCC changed its focus about ten years later, I purchased it back and endowed the Judith Kaplan Chair for Women s History/Women s Studies/Library Support at CFCC (now Central Florida College). My plans for the collection are currently unformed.

I am on the Board of the National Women s History Museum, now in the process of establishing a world-class women s history museum on the Mall in our nation s Capital. Please go to our award-winning website to read about women s history, women of achievement and the current status of our Museum goal. It is a project long overdue, one that, like the First and Second Wave feminists, will record history and change the future for all.

I believe passionately in the role VFA is playing in documenting the history of the Second Wave. I continue to work with NWHM and VFA to preserve that history to help assure that never again will the story of feminist movements be erased from history.

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos

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Sheila Tobias
Co-President, Exec VP

Forty years,12 books, myriad memberships, scores of good feminist friends, later, I have no regrets. It was great to be alive in the 1960s and 1970s (to paraphrase Wordsworth) and to be a young feminist was very heaven!

Sheila Tobias August 2010










I never write about my childhood, or my family. As far as I am concerned nothing significant happened to a well-adjusted and school-successful little girl until I went to college with two exceptions but they were only important in retrospect.

1) my mother dragged me to hear Eleanor Roosevelt making a train stop in our home town during the 1944 reelection campaign for FDR. 2) a volunteer Christmas children's present wrapping project brought me to an historic "Women's Institute" in my home town, no longer much used, but harboring smells, and secrets of an earlier time. "Who worked here? What did they do? Why is there no remnant of what was here?" I wondered and never did find out but the time in the Women's Institute (I was about 12) set me up to study women's history much later.

As a teenager, I was blessed by late physical (sexual) development, so I could be a child longer and enjoy a bunch of likeminded nerdy males in my classes with whom I could interact without dating or "going steady." I was a serious student of pretty much all subjects, a lover of languages, and dreamed of living abroad. (Much influenced by WW II movies and novels and even more the memoirs of the expats of the WW I generation.)

I had a great time in college; and much adventure during 4 and half years in low level journalism jobs in Europe. Home to a graduate program I didn't like in European history, and which I left in 1965, never to return to get a PhD.

I liked women, but I liked the company of intellectually stimulating men, too, a lot. I just didn't want to limit myself to one partner, one life style, one career, or one country. Having children seemed to me like doing childhood all over again.

A big part of my emotional life (what engages other women when they have home and hearth) was taken up with men - lots of them and great relationships bringing no regrets even when they ended. That's certainly not "meat" for a feminist biography. Having decided early on NOT to marry and be a HouseWife/Mother, I was freer than most of the women of my generation (b. 1935) to explore myself, try out different men and different lives and avoid commitment of either kind: personal or professional. I married when I was 35 to someone who agreed to my conditions: no children. (That marriage lasted 10 years; my subsequent marriage is still going on after 23.)

Now, if I wasn't a freak, I was certainly an outlier. But remember: all those WWII movies placed family off stage.

I did flounder in my 20s but only partly I thought then (and still think now) because of discrimination though I have observed (since then) that the women mentors who might have guided me (women 15 years my senior, born in 1920) were just not there. They had lost their professional jobs during the Depression and never really recovered the momentum one needs in one's twenties to succeed in one's forties. Needless to say, there were NO women professors at Harvard-Radcliffe where I went to school.

Frances Fitzgerald
photo by David Shankbone

But I never blamed anyone or any misogynist system for my not getting ahead. I figured it was because I was not able to commit: I shuttled between journalism and academe: too journalistic for my graduate program, too academic (and too scared to go to a war zone) to be a journalist. Of course there were barriers, but Frances Fitzgerald - 7 years my junior - got herself to Vietnam in the mid sixties from which she wrote a great book "Fire in the Lake." And my classmate, David Halberstam, made himself a lifelong career in the same era with "The Best and the Brightest." So I couldn't blame anyone but myself.

What made me ripe for feminism as the 1960s wound to an end was a growing respect for other women especially those I met in the course of civil rights summers in the South and anti-Vietnam war work in New York and Ithaca. I was most impressed with Southern white women whom (I wrote at the time) couldn't be part-time civil rights activists. Once they crossed the line, their churches and their families turned them out. Inspired by southern women of the recent past, like Lilian Smith ("Killers of the Dream") and other southern women writers, they seemed braver and more authentic than the women and girls I had grown up with; even than the WWII survivors I had met in Germany.

Lucille Whipper

In the South I worked for a Black woman who exuded a comfort with authority my women age mates were not even aiming for. She was Lucille Whipper, the wife of a Black minister in my Upward Bound project. In selecting me to be her assistant director, Mrs. Whipper gave me my first experience working for a woman and I was nearly 30 at the time.

As my age mates and younger women emerged from anti-war and civil rights to form women's liberation cells in 1968-1970, I connected - even though I had not the litany of complaints that drove the others. The IDEAS drew me, especially the analysis of Kate Millett, whom I met and got to come to Cornell, early on, and the (I thought) interesting and contrasting leadership styles of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. (I got to know both.)

I joined them not because I needed the Movement, but because they drew me in. And once in, I discovered what I had been prevented from learning how to do and to be at Harvard and beyond, namely something of a leader, and altogether committed to something other than my career. And of course, once I stopped trying to figure out what I wanted to do, there it was waiting for me to take up.

At the time I joined the feminist movement (1968-69) I had given up my PhD but not yet Academe where I felt much at home. I was a junior Administrator at Cornell where the most recent boyfriend (later husband) was pursuing a cutting-edge PhD in environmental policy (1968!! before Earth Day). My boss, the vice president, was a physicist (I would be drawn to physicists ever after) and he gave me wide berth to do and invent programs. One of these was a "Conference on Women" in 1969, encouraged by Kate Millett and the New York radical women. The Conference (which I audiotaped and wrote up in a short book, still in the Cornell archives) changed my life and that of scores of Cornell/Ithaca women. A Women's Studies course (one of the first) and a Women's Studies Program (definitely one of the first) followed in the next two years and I was suddenly on the right side of history! Being a writer, I was notating all that happened, collecting syllabi of new "feminist" course materials, and meeting dozens of like minded academic and not so academic women around the country.

I collected the first women's studies syllabi into a booklet I wrongly named "Female Studies" but anticipating a continuing series of volumes, denoted it "No. I." I attended meetings of various women's groups in the East and began to be invited to talk about "sex role socialization" "women's studies" and eventually "
Math Anxiety", "Know your Weapons" and the many other subject areas I found myself and others opening up. I made tremendous friends, far fewer enemies than one would have anticipated. I had "arrived" at a place I felt was going to be mine for a very long time.

Forty years, 12 books, myriad memberships, scores of good feminist friends, later, I have no regrets. It was great to be alive in the 1960s and 1970s (to paraphrase Wordsworth) and to be a young feminist was very heaven!
Sheila Tobias August 2010

For the past 25 years, Sheila Tobias has been studying, writing, and lecturing on "neglected issues in science and mathematics education," supported by the Ford, Rockefeller, and Sloan Foundations and by the Research Corporation of Tucson, Arizona. Among her best known books are
Overcoming Math Anxiety; Succeed with Math; Breaking the Science Barrier; They're not Dumb, They're Different; Revitalizing Undergraduate Science: Why Some Things Work and Most Don't; and Rethinking Science as a Career.

In adddition to her books on science/math anxiety and avoidance, Sheila published her own political retrospective on the Second Wave entitled
Faces of Feminism: An Activist's Reflections on the Women's Movement (1997) reviewed in the N.Y. Times by Wendy Kaminer, and with Jean Bethke Elstain Women, Militarism, and War: Essays in History and Social Theory (1990). Her demystification of weapons, war policy, and defense spending, What Kinds of Guns are they Buying for Your Butter? brought her to Tucson Arizona to collaborate with defense specialist Peter Goudinoff in 1981. The book was published in 1982. But Sheila stayed on in Tucson for the rest of her career. Other co-authors of that book were Bella Abzug's one-time assistant, Shelah Leader, and Shelah's husband Stefan. That is the only one of Sheila's books out of print.

For more information on Sheila Tobias visit her Web site:


For more information, contact:
Sheila Tobias
Post Office Box 43758
Tucson AZ 85733-3758

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