Mónica Alemán serves as coordinator of the International Indigenous Women's Forum (FIMI/IIWF) and program director of MADRE, an international women's human rights organization. As an indigenous woman from Nicaragua, Alemán dedicates herself to advancing the rights of women worldwide and promoting indigenous peoples' collective human rights. Having grown up during the war in Nicaragua, Alemán resolved to devote herself to creating peace, security, and human rights for all peoples throughout the world.
While still only in her early 30s, Alemán has significantly expanded the breadth and depth of MADRE's international programs and partnerships with community-based women's groups worldwide. She currently conducts seminars on human rights, women's human rights, and United Nations agencies, as well as leadership trainings for women and youth in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.
Alemán spearheaded a report, Mairin Iwanka Raya: Indigenous Women Stand against Violence, and has initiated inter-movement dialogues on issues such as sexual rights, feminism, and indigenous peoples' rights. Alemán represents MADRE and FIMI/IIWF in the international arena and coordinates MADRE's work at the United Nations. In 2001, she played a key role in the Youth Caucus at the U.N. World Conference against Racism in South Africa, and she facilitated the participation of indigenous women in Beijing + 5 and Beijing +10 in New York in 2000 and 2005.read more
A columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, Marie Cocco recently took stock of the sexism directed at Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries, drawing considerable attention from readers and sincere gratitude from feminists.
Her columns on health care, taxes, budgeting, the workplace and other issues are written for everyday readers, not political insiders. Cocco was among the first journalists to report the emergence of a business-backed movement to privatize Social Security, and to show how years of neglect and policy changes were eroding the private pension system. Her series on the government's pollution record, written with reporter Earl Lane, received numerous awards.
Born in Massachusetts, Cocco earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and began working as a reporter for the Daily Register of Monmouth County, N.J. She joined New York's Newsday in 1980 as a local reporter, quickly advancing to the statehouse bureau. In 1986 she joined the paper's D.C. bureau, where she covered economics, Capitol Hill, the White House, and the last four presidential campaigns. Her column was syndicated in 2002 and she now devotes full-time to opinion writing.
Cocco's reporting and commentary have won prizes from the Associated Press and the Newswomen's Club of New York, among others. She has appeared on CNN, Fox, MSNBC and C-SPAN, as well as national radio shows.read more
Hon. Donna Edwards
A rising star in the Democratic party, Donna Edwards recently was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman from the state of Maryland to serve in Congress. Edwards defeated an eight-term incumbent in the state primary this year and went on to capture more than 80 percent of the vote in a special election.
One of six children raised in a military family, Edwards has traveled throughout the U.S. and the world. She attended Franklin Pierce Law School in New Hampshire, where she developed her love of law and public interest. Edwards co-founded and served as the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.She aimed to reform the campaign finance system first through the group Public Citizen and then as executive
director of the Center for a New Democracy. Starting in 2000, Edwards served as the executive director for The Arca Foundation, where she gained national prominence as a strategist on issues such as: the independence of the federal judiciary, ending capital punishment, protecting Social Security, international labor and human rights, and instituting a "living wage."
Edwards is a strong advocate of providing health care for those who can't afford it, funding adequate school resources, and working for women's rights.read more
Dr. Erika Falk
Dr. Erika Falk is the associate program chair for the master's degree in communication at Johns Hopkins University. She earned her doctorate in communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in speech communication from San Diego State University.
Falk has published several articles on women and the U.S. presidency. She is also the author of Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns, a book about how the media cover women candidates. Falk has also published on the history of rhetoric, the effects of sexist language, and civility in the House of Representatives.
Previously, Falk served as research director of the Washington office of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. While there she supervised several research grants and wrote reports on diverse communication issues, ranging from issue advertising to women in executive management of communication companies to communication strategies for early childhood development advocates. She also worked on the data analysis team of the National Annenberg Election Survey. Falk's reports have been widely cited by the national press and on the floors of Congress.
Falk began her career as a public radio reporter and anchor. Additionally, she has taught university courses in political communication, persuasion, public speaking, business communication, and overcoming communication apprehension.read more
Jehmu Greene is a political and pop culture commentator and a recognized expert on voter engagement, issue advocacy, young voters and celebrity politics. She has been featured on The Daily Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Anderson Cooper 360°, MTV News, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC World News, and all major cable news networks.
Greene is the former president of Rock the Vote, where she developed progressive issue campaigns, executive produced award-winning public service announcements, and implemented strategic partnerships with the nation's largest media companies. Under her leadership, Rock the Vote's membership grew from 1,500 to 1 million, and the organization worked with over 250 of the nation's top celebrities, registered a record 1.4 million new voters, and helped significantly increase youth voter turnout in the 2004 elections.
Greene served on the Credentials Committee for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and has worked on over 20 political and issue campaigns at the local, state, and national levels. She is also a former Director of Women's Outreach and Southern Political Director at the Democratic National Committee.
Greene also founded Urban Hang Suite, an Internet company specializing in social networking and promoting community service for African American professionals in Washington, D.C. In addition to numerous other awards, Greene was named one of Essence Magazine's 40 Women Under 40 Shaping the World.
Woman of Courage honoree
After retiring as a professional nurse, Barbara Hillary became fascinated with arctic travel. While taking on the challenges of learning snowmobiling and dog sledding in the United States and Canada, Hillary became aware that no African-American woman had ever reached the North Pole. On April 23, 2007, after overcoming many obstacles Hillary reached the North Pole.
A graduate of the New School University, Hillary earned Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Professional Studies degrees. As a Gerontology major, Hillary utilized her education to tailor staff development in nursing homes and related facilities to meet the expectations of an aging population. This approach included a strong emphasis on sensitizing staff, as deliverers of human services to the elderly, to their own aging process.
Hillary was founder and editor-in-chief of The Peninsula Magazine, the first multiracial magazine published by an African-American woman in Queens County, New York City. The magazine was a non-profit, community-focused publication. Hillary has maintained an active role as an advocate for community improvement and was the founder of the Arverne Action Association, Inc.
Hillary has received many noteworthy awards and honors, including a special acknowledgement from the Explorers Club, a special citation from the U.S. House of Representatives. Her next dream is to reach the South Pole later this year.
Woman of Vision honoree
As NOW's longest serving president (1991 to 2001), Patricia Ireland helped move the organization to the forefront of the political scene, build a strong, effective women's movement and establish herself as a groundbreaking activist. Ireland emerged as one of the most influential feminist leaders in this country and a leading figure in the world-wide feminist movement.
Ireland found her calling when she confronted discrimination as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airline. She credits NOW's help for her success in winning equal health benefits at Pan Am. After earning her law degree at the University of Miami, she served as pro-bono counsel to Dade County and Florida NOW for a dozen years.
Widely recognized as a key player in improving social and economic conditions for women, Ireland is especially adept at challenging people to make the connections between women's rights and other human rights issues. A hallmark of her work has been to forge stronger links among the feminist, anti-poverty, civil rights, disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements.
Ireland is currently representing unions and their members as a labor lawyer in Miami. She has been organizing for Hillary Clinton's campaign and serves on the board of the SayNO2, a campaign dedicated to defeating a so-called marriage protection amendment to the Florida constitution.
Carol Jenkins is president of the Women's Media Center, an organization dedicated to building a strong, dynamic community of women to speak up and change the face of media. Jenkins has testified before Congress and the FCC, and written about what she calls The Invisible Majority-the 51 percent of the population (women) who occupy only three percent of "clout" positions in media. She argues the case for inclusion of women throughout media: in ownership positions, at the highest levels of management and creativity, and the telling of women's stories.
Jenkins enjoyed a 30-year, award-winning tenure with several New York City news departments, including 23 years at WNBC-TV, where she co-anchored the 6 p.m. newscast. She covered presidential politics and international issues, reporting from the floor of national party conventions and from South Africa on the release of Nelson Mandela. She anchored and co-produced an Emmy-nominated special on apartheid, and was an executive producer of the PBS documentary, What I Want My Words To Do To You, which won the Freedom of Expression Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003.
With her daughter, Jenkins authored an acclaimed book about her uncle's life story. She also promotes the cause of the women and children of war ravaged Africa, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Woman of Courage honoree
Lilly Ledbetter was hired as a supervisor in 1979 by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She worked at the same production plant in Alabama for 19 years. For a long time, Ledbetter did not know she was earning considerably less than men in the same position. Eventually rumors surfaced, and when they finally turned into hard evidence, Ledbetter took her employer to court.
A jury agreed she was paid unfairly, and awarded Ledbetter $223,776 in back pay, and over $3 million in punitive damages, but a judge cut that to only $300,000 because of a 1991 law that limits a company's liability for damages. Goodyear took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 against Ledbetter, taking away every cent of the damages and back pay. In a decision written by Bush nominee Justice Samuel Alito, the Court told Ledbetter that she should have filed a complaint of pay discrimination within 180 days of her first unfair paycheck, even though she had no knowledge of the disparity.
Ledbetter may never recover the pay she rightly earned. But federal legislation has been introduced in her name in an effort to restore the true intention of Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, and protect other women from wage discrimination.
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Hon. Carolyn Maloney
New York Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney is a national leader with extensive accomplishments who chairs and serves on a number of key committees.
As a renowned champion for domestic and international women's issues, Maloney helped passed legislation to target the demand side of sex trafficking and provide annual mammograms for women on Medicare. Maloney also authored the Debbie Smith bill to process DNA kits, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation in history.
Maloney has been an outspoken authority against sexual assault in the military. She successfully attached an amendment to Defense Authorization legislation in 2004 to ensure the U.S. military has ample rape DNA testing kits and that the use of those kits is properly expedited.
She was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and has fought vigorously to restore the nation's contribution to the United Nation's Population Fund. Maloney also has worked to restore the U.S.'s contribution to combat the horrific condition obstetric fistula.
Together with Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, Maloney commissioned a comprehensive report examining wages for all women over the past 20 years, which revealed a persistent wage gap of 20-cents on the dollar that has remained unchanged. In 2007, Maloney reintroduced legislation to amend the Constitution and guarantee equal rights for women.
Irshad Manji is director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, which aims to develop leaders who will speak truth to power in their own communities for the sake of a greater good. She is the best-selling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith, which has been published in 30 countries, including Pakistan, India, Lebanon and Indonesia. In Muslim states that have banned her book, Manji is reaching readers by posting free translations on her website. So far, they have been downloaded more than 500,000 times.
Manji is creator of the acclaimed PBS documentary Faith Without Fear, which chronicles her journey to reconcile Islam with human rights. The film won Gold at this year's New York Television Festival. Through digital technologies, it is now being viewed in the Muslim underground worldwide.
For her pioneering efforts, Manji receives death threats and distinctions: The New York Times called her "Osama Bin Laden's worst nightmare"; Oprah Winfrey gave Manji her first annual Chutzpah Award; Ms. Magazine selected her as a "Feminist for the 21st Century"; Immigration Equality gave her its Global Vision Prize; and The Jakarta Post in Indonesia (the world's biggest Muslim country) identifies Manji one of three women making positive change in Islam today.
Heather Mizeur, a Maryland state delegate from the 20th district, is a strong proponent of women's rights and progressive values. In the Maryland state legislature, she sponsored several important healthcare bills, including one which allowed young adults to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 25, preventing what Mizeur called a "dangerous rite of passage" in losing insurance after graduating from college. She is also focused on gaining marriage equality rights for Maryland’s citizens.
Mizeur ran for her seat on a platform of affordable healthcare, affordable housing, adequate support for public schools, and sustainable energy. She has significant experience in the field of health policy, working with non-profit community health centers for low-income, minority, migrant and homeless people across the country.
Mizeur worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign as a principal architect of his agenda for healthcare reform. During the 2004 campaign, she served as Kerry’s campaign director for the state of Maryland. In 2005, she was elected as a Maryland representative to the Democratic National Committee, and she remains a DNC superdelegate.
Mizeur spent four years as a member of AmeriCorps, working as a tutor and mentor in a drop-out prevention program. She also helped forge an aggressive Maryland voter protection program in 2004, which trained and deployed over 1,300 volunteer lawyers on election day.
Nancy Redd is the 26-year-old author of Body Drama, a New York Times Best-Seller and a 2008 NAACP Image Award nominee. On a mission to tackle the issues least discussed but most significant in young women's lives, Redd's book dares to empower a new generation-with facts instead of fantasies, and the priceless gift of self-knowledge. Body Drama celebrates the many versions of "normal," replacing seriously erroneous information with the honest, medically proven truth in a language all girls can understand.
Two weeks after graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Women's Studies and as one of Harvard Magazine's Top Six Seniors, Redd won the title of Miss Virginia, going on to make the Top 10 and winning the swimsuit competition at Miss America 2004. She once won $250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (donating 10 percent to 4-H), and was named by Glamour magazine as one of the United States' top-ten college women "most likely to succeed-at anything."
Redd is a contributing editor and Body & Soul expert at CosmoGIRL! Magazine. She has been featured on E! True Hollywood Stories, PEOPLE magazine, NPR, PBS, CBS's The Early Show, Eyewitness Kids News, Discovery Channel, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, ABC's Good Morning America, J-14 and more.
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