Diane Humeweta – U.S. Attorney, U.S. District Court Judge

Diane Humeweta is touted as an example of bipartisanship, having been nominated by a Republican and a Democratic President to serve as the First Native American Woman in legal positions. However, the facts (see below) show that politics rules

DIANE HUMETEWADiane Humeweta received her law degree from the school named for the First Woman To. . .become a Justice of the Supreme Court: the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at the University of Arizona. A member of the Hopi Tribe, she served as Tribal Liaison and Senior Litigation Counsel in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Later she headed that office when she became The First Native American Woman To. . .become a U.S. Attorney. She served in the District of Arizona from 2007 to 2009. Once again crossing paths with the Supreme Court Justice, her investiture was in the Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse in Phoenix.

Support from Senator John McCain did not prove beneficial as she was removed from her position after Barack Obama defeated McCain for president. Earlier this year, however, President Obama named her The First Native American Woman To. . .be a United States District Judge. The vote to approve her in the U.S. Senate was 96-0 (a rare moment of unanimity in the governing body).

The twenty-one tribal reservations in Arizona are pleased to have a judge in the federal court who is a reflection of themselves. The workload is heavy as all felonies committed on reservations go to federal court. A national expert on Native American legal issues, Humetewa has instructed prosecutors and other law enforcement officials on the intricacies of this portion of the law.

It is interesting to note that, although Diane Humetewa is the first Native American in this position, she did succeed another woman, Mary Marguia. Marguia had been elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Arlene Violet – State Attorney General

ARLENE VIOLETArlene Violet was always a fighter so it was probably not surprising when she became The First Woman To. . .be elected Attorney General of Rhode Island. In fact, she was The First Woman To. . .be Attorney General in any of the United States. During her time in office she was honored by the U.S. Justice Department as the Law Enforcement Professional of the Year. Every Rhode Island police officer received a copy of a manual she wrote that then became a model for other states’ attorneys general.

Arlene Violet’s detractors called her “Attila the Nun” because of her earlier membership in a religious order. Even while a nun she protested the Vietnam War and led grape and lettuce boycotts, the hot issues of the day. For her work she was soundly criticized, much as the nuns of today in the United States who are being investigated by the Catholic Church for caring for homosexuals and pregnant women without forcing church doctrine on them. (See Time magazine for an editorial on this current event.)

When she was president of a daycare center, the local Catholic bishop locked the organization out of their building. Committed to the poor and oppressed, she risked excommunication to sue the bishop. After 23 years as a nun, she decided she could do more benefit to society as a lawyer. She practiced consumer, environmental, and developmental disability law.

Her legal endeavors earned her a place, along with Hilary Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in the book The 50 Most Influential Women in American Law. She has written her own books: Convictions: My Journey and The Mob and Me with John Partington.

A true Renaissance woman, she had a talk radio show that placed her in the top 100 talk show hosts, wrote a musical, appeared on national television (including Sixty Minutes, Larry King Live, and Crossfire), and has a newspaper column that routinely points out the misdeeds of those in office. She teaches environmental law at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has judged the Miss American Pageant and, coming full circle, appeared in the off-Broadway musical Nunsense.

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).