Women 2000 - Speakers

Jill Ker Conway

Opening the conference will be Jill Ker Conway as the keynote on Friday evening, October 20th.

 Jill Ker Conway left her native Australia in 1960. In 1975 Ms. Conway became the first woman president of Smith College and served ten years in that post. Since 1985 she has been a Visiting Scholar and Professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's program in Science, Technology and Society. She holds 33 honorary degrees from North American colleges and universities.

Ms. Conway is the author of several best selling books including, The Road from Coorain, Written by Herself, and True North, the second installment of her memoir. Most recently published are When Memory Speaks - Reflections on Autobiography. Ms. Conway has also edited a three volume anthology of women's autobiography from around the world - the most recent titled In Her Own Words.

The Women 2000 luncheon panel will include four speakers: Chief Justice Margaret Marshall will speak on the topic of government; community organizer Meizhu Lui will speak on health; activist Dolores Huerta will speak on work; and Dr. Blenda J. Wilson, president and CEO of Nellie Mae Foundation, will speak on the topic of education.

 Margaret H. Marshall

Margaret H. Marshall is the first woman chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Before her appointment to the Court as a Justice in November 1996, she was Vice President and General Counsel of Harvard University.

A native of South Africa, Chief Justice Marshall was elected in 1966 as the President of the National Union of South African Students, an anti-apartheid organization of 20,000 members. In 1968, Chief Justice Marshall immigrated to the United States to pursue her graduate education. She became a United States citizen in 1978.

In 1998 Chief Justice Marshall was the first recipient of the Harvard College Women's Professional Achievement Award given to an individual "who has demonstrated exceptional leadership to benefit the community." She is the recipient of several honorary degrees.

 Meizhu Lui

Meizhu Lui considers her profession to be "troublemaker!" She is currently the lead community organizer for the Boston Health Access Project of Health Care for All. Working with residents from Boston's minority and immigrant communities, the project demystifies the health care system, educates people about their rights, validates their cultural health beliefs, and mobilizes them to challenge health care institutions to put resources toward building healthy communities and providing care that respects our diversity.

Ms. Lui was the President of her labor union at Boston City Hospital--the first Asian woman union President in Massachusetts. She has received recognition for her work from women's organizations including the Boston Women's Fund, Rosie's Place (a homeless women's shelter), the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, among others.

 Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers of America, has emerged as one of the leading spokespersons for Latinos, women and other ethnic minority groups. Ms. Huerta has been a leader in the struggle for a better life for migrant workers. She has launched three boycotts of California table grapes to force growers to stop using deadly pesticides on the grapes, and to improve conditions for farm workers.

As a board member of the Feminist Majority, Ms. Huerta has traveled the country encouraging more women, especially Latina women, to run for political office.

 Dr. Blenda J. Wilson

Dr. Blenda J. Wilson is the first president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Foundation, one of the largest foundations in New England, and the largest focused exclusively on education. The Foundation's mission is to promote accessibility, quality and effectiveness of education from preschool through postsecondary levels, for all ages, especially under-served populations, via grant making, research and policy development.

Dr. Wilson was formerly the president of California State University, Northridge, from 1992 to 1999. Prior to her tenure at CSU - Northridge, Dr. Wilson was chancellor of the University of Michigan, Dearborn, from 1988 to 1992. Among other positions she has held, Dr. Wilson has served as executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and is past chair of the American Association of Higher Education.

 Emily Rooney

Emily Rooney is host and executive editor of GREATER BOSTON, WGBH's local issues and cultural affairs program. Ms. Rooney was previously at the Fox Network in New York, where she most recently oversaw national political coverage. Prior to Fox, Rooney was executive producer of ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

Ms. Rooney also worked at WCVB-TV in Boston for 15 years. During her tenure at WCVB, that station's news department was honored with numerous top broadcasting awards. Throughout her career, Rooney has been a frequent participant in journalism roundtables, sought after for her views on ethics and standards in broadcast journalism and advocacy of media accountability.

Marge Piercy

On Saturday, October 21st, after the conference workshops and panels, Marge Piercy will give a poetry reading.

 Marge Piercy is a novelist, essayist, and poet best known for fiction with a feminist slant. Her writing stems from a political commitment that began in the 1960s in the Vietnam anti-war movement.

Ms. Piercy's early novels, such as "Small Changes" (1973), have been used as historical documents in women's studies' courses. Often her protagonists like Connie in "Woman on the Edge of Time" (1976) are women trying to establish some control over worlds that are increasingly restrictive. Her novels include He, She and It, The Longings of Women, Storm Tide (co-authored with Ira Wood), City of Darkness, City of Light and Three Women. Her poetry includes: Mars and Her Children, Available Light, What are Big Girls Made of, Early Grrl and The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme.

For more information about Marge Piercy, please see her website at http://www.margepiercy.com/

Sponsored by The Worcester County Poetry Association, the Worcester Cultural Commission, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Send your ideas and feedback to the Worcester Women's History Project (WWHP)