Judith Rodin – Ivy League President

JUDITH RODINJudith Rodin was on the forefront of making education accessible to women. When she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s College for Women in the 1960’s, she was president of Penn’s Women’s Student Government. She led the movement to merge with the Men’s Student Government. From this merger a Student Committee on Undergraduate Education was formed in preparation for co-education at the College of Arts and Sciences. By the time Judith Rodin became President of the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, The First Woman To. . .be president of an ivy league university, there was no longer a College for Women at Penn.

After her graduation Rodin taught at New York University and then became a professor at Yale University. She served as head of the psychology department, then as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and finally as Provost. As president of Penn, she focused on developing the community as well as the university, and formed alliances between the schools and businesses. During her tenure both the endowment and fundraising tripled and research funds doubled. Expansion of buildings and programs marked her era.

She has been on Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women list as well as the National Association of Corporate Directors’ 100. She is committed to high standards of governance by boards and believes that investing should not be confined to the wealthy.

She also believes that investing should contribute to the welfare of the world. In her book The Power of Impact Investing she promotes considering the impact of investments as well as their financial returns.

Living her values, she participants in global forums and efforts. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked her to co-chair a commission on long-term resilience.

Not content with one first, Judith Rodin was also The First Woman To. . .become president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Her influence extends throughout the world in education, science and development.




Christa McAuliffe – Teacher, Astronaut

Christa McAuliffe’s birthday was September 2nd. It seems appropriate to include her here as the school year begins.

CHRISTA MCAULIFFEChrista McAuliffe’s First Woman To. . .achievement was made possible by President Ronald Reagan when he decided that the first civilian in space should be a teacher. As he put it, they are “America’s finest.” The application was requested by 45,000 teachers, but only 11,000 completed the lengthy form. From that group the number was reduced to ten who then trained and competed for the slot.

Christa McAuliffe’s proposal for her program in space was not the most ambitious among the applicants. It was, in fact, rather simple. She would keep a journal of her adventure and share it. While preparing a class for her high school students on the American Woman, she was inspired by the personal journals of women who pioneered the West. She believed that, as a pioneer in space, she should preserve this tradition. She was convinced that social history is enriched by “diaries, travel accounts and personal letters.” According to her mother, Christa believed that “history wasn’t made by presidents and kings and politicians and wars, that it was common man that really had the big part of history.” Just as she encouraged her students to interview their parents and grandparents about their lives, she wanted to preserve her own life for her children.

Field trips and speakers from outside were always part of her classes and she saw the journey into space as the ultimate field trip. On January 28, 1986, she was launched into space. McAuliffe had always believed in dreams. She was convinced that even a C student could become a poet. Her poem was cut short that day when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds into the launch.

Stunned students, watching on televisions in their classrooms and auditoriums across the country, learned a different lesson than the one she had wanted to teach that day. Their teachers must have struggled with the words to comfort and explain, but then teachers have always been skilled at helping children through difficulties. Not all of them are awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, as was Christa McAuliffe, but many of them are as courageous.

Afterword: Barbara Morgan, Christa McAuliffe’s backup for the space ride on Challenger, stayed with the space program and flew to the International Space Station aboard Endeavour in 2007.


In spite of the lengthy commercials, this video is worth the time: http://www.biography.com/people/christa-mcauliffe-9390406




Maryam-Mirzakhani-Iranian-Woman-Win-Math-Top-Prize copyMiryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University, was the first woman and the first Iranian to earn the Fields Medal, the highest recognition in mathematics. Her understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces was noted in her award. Before she entered college, in 1994, she had already achieved a first: the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad. The following year, she was the first Iranian student (male or female) to earn a perfect score and win two gold medals.

Becky Hammon was named assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Although she is the second female assistant coach hired by the NBA, she is the first hired on a full-time basis. This makes her first in any of Becky-Hammon-Wallpapers-Latestthe four major professional sports (baseball, basketball, football and hockey).

kacy-1405606299Kacy Catanzaro, who is also known as Mighty Kacy, was the first woman to qualify for the finals on American Ninja Warrior. A gymnast, she is only five feet tall and weighs only 100 pounds. She proves that power is not related to size.


And. . .Mo’Ne Davis was the first girl to pitch a first shutout in Little League history (see my last blog).

Mo’Ne Davis – Little League Star

MO'NE DAVIS SPORTS ILLUSMo’Ne Davis was the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history. She was also the first Little Leaguer (boy or girl) to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She even has her own Wikipedia page.

She generated excitement for the game, with more viewers than ever before, and a positive note in baseball’s scandal-ridden recent past. She captured the imagination of other girls who long to step into her cleats. She surprised everyone when she said that basketball was really her sport.

What was most surprising, however, was the reaction of some male columnists who wrote she was receiving too much attention, that it would ruin her sports career, and that she should be in eighth grade not on tour. Really? Would they be writing the same words about a boy who had caused this much commotion?

Did they think about why she might have generated so much excitement? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, in the 67-year history of the Little League World Series, in which over 9,000 children have participated, girls have been almost invisible. In 1972 Maria Pepe, the first girl to make it to the series, was thrown out because the other teams objected to her presence. Only 18 girls have played in the series and, of those, only 4 were from the United States. In fact, there were only two girls from the United States until this unprecedented year, the first in which 2 girls played the series.

Mo’Ne’s responses to reporters show that she is a level-headed young woman as well as a talented athlete. It strikes me that she is, at fourteen, probably more mature than some of the men who are writing about her. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

The Worthy Endeavor of Kym Worthy

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 6.11.04 PMKym Worthy is responsible for turning national attention to the lack of concern on the parts of police and our communities for crimes of rape. Her efforts have received attention in national publications and her successes are promoting discussion.

She is the first woman and first African American to be appointed prosecutor in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes Detroit, the most violent city in the United States. Her office prosecutes 52% of all felonies in the state of Michigan. It has the tenth largest caseload in the country and yet its staff, due to serious cutbacks caused by the financial setbacks in Detroit, is one-quarter that of Los Angeles.

In spite of the limitations of her situation Kym Worthy has accomplished enough to earn numerous awards. Her tenacity and determination led her to successfully prosecute former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is currently in prison. She has many other achievements to her credit in this position. Among them:

–In 2007, after her persistence, the Wayne County Commission, for the first time, set aside funds for the protection of witnesses.

–She created the first Elder Abuse Unit in the county.

–She developed a “Change the Culture” program to support community policing in Detroit. The first public form to discuss the program drew 3,000 citizens and leaders from the city.

She has achieved national recognition, however, for response to a happenstance. In 2009 one of Kym Worthy’s assistants discovered more than 11,000 rape kits sitting in a warehouse, unprocessed. Herself a victim of rape, one she never reported, Worthy immediately sought funding to have the kits tested. She received a $1 million federal grant to test 153 kits. Although the process is costly, and slow, the results so far have been spectacular.

–Of the first 153 kits processed, there were DNA matches for 38 suspects, and 20 of those were identified as serial rapists

–Of the first 1,600 kits tested, two-thirds match a crime some place in the United States, “often a rape.”

–To date 3,230 rape kits have been tested. Of these 17% were found in the FBI data bank and 15% of those were serial rapists. Over 100 serial rapists have been identified as of last month.

There may be as many as 400,000 untested rape kits in this country. Congress is currently pressuring colleges and universities to improve their support systems for rape victims. While this effort is commendable, it focuses solely on those privileged young women who can pursue higher education. What might happen if they provided funding and training to test all the rape kits that have been ignored?

Yes, in some cases, the statue of limitations has expired, but as Kym Worthy has shown, many of the perpetrators have gone on to commit other, often sexual, crimes. Testing these kits would not only lead to punishment for the crimes against women. It would remove predators to women and promote their safety, not only in colleges and universities but also in inner city neighborhoods such as those in Detroit.