Martha Rountree, First Woman Moderator of “Meet the Press”

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 4.59.05 PMChuck Todd is currently moderator of “Meet the Press” on NBC, a one-on-one interview show sometimes followed by a roundtable. Todd follows many notable news correspondents: Roger Mudd, Marvin Kalb, Chris Wallace, Garrick Utley, Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, and Martha Rountree. Wait, Martha Rountree? There has been a woman moderator?

In fact, Martha Rountree was the first moderator of “Meet the Press” in 1947. It was the first show where interviews were not rehearsed. She filled the position for six years. Not only was Rountree the moderator she was also “a” or “the” creator—depending on which source you check. Supposedly, Rountree and Lawrence E. Spivak introduced the show on radio in 1945 then on television two years later. Some say Spivak came to the party later and, although he was co-producer and business partner, Rountree generated the concept on her own.

The first guest was James Farley, Postmaster General and campaign manager for Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his first two terms. Every President since John F. Kennedy has been interviewed on the show, although not always during his presidency. The first woman guest was Elizabeth Bentley, an American who spied for the Soviet Union then defected and provided information on Soviet spies to the U.S. Government. Even then a woman had a better chance of getting noticed if she was notorious.

Since history is written by the male survivors, we may never know the truth about whether Martha Rountree developed the show, but she was the first moderater, even though she was a woman and it was 1947. She set the tone for the program and its future. It is the longest-running program in television history.

Pat Summitt – First Coach

Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates

excellent work from average work.” [Pat Summitt]

 PAT SUMMITT       Pat Summitt was coach of the Tennessee Vols women’s basketball team from 1974-2012. When she died two weeks ago, her face appeared in the news, something that occurred often during her career, but not as frequently in the past few years as she battled Alzheimer’s.

When she began her career at the age of 22, women’s basketball was not formally recognized by the NCAA. Summitt had to organize bake sales to purchase uniforms, wash the uniforms herself, and then drive the van to games. When she retired, women’s basketball had a professional league, and her former players were prominent in it.

She was the first NCAA coach (not just the First Woman) to reach 1,000 wins. Her list of achievements is lengthy. Here are just a few highlights:

–Reached the Final Four when she was under 30

–Won the national title when she was under 35

–Won 8 national titles

–Had 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament

–First coach (male or female) to reach 800 wins. Only four coaches have achieved the same.

—In total, had 1,098 wins, more than any other Division I coach (male or female)

–Never had a losing season.

–Inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame as a coach the first year coaches were honored

–Presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama

–Received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2012, after she publicly announced she was battling Alzheimer’s

–Was the Only Woman on the list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time, according to Sporting News in 2009

Her most impressive statistic, in my opinion, is that every player who finished out her eligibility under Pat Summitt graduated from college. Her players speak of the leadership she not only provided, but taught them. “We learned about what it takes to be a leader,” said WNBA star Tamika Catchings, “what it takes to be a great woman, what it takes to be a great lady. . .”




Virginia Raggi – First Woman Mayor of Rome

RAGGI       Italy’s capital city of Rome was founded in 753, B.C. Just last week, Virginia Raggi became the First Woman elected to the position of mayor of Rome. It only took 2,769 years, almost three millennia.

Not only is this election historic because she is a woman, but also because she is a member of a minority party. Her party, the Five Star Movement, focuses on sustainability and the environment as well as on public services. The party also believes that politics should be a service performed, not a career, and that elected officials should not benefit financially from their time in office. The abysmal situation for public services and for widespread corruption in Rome set the stage for Raggi’s win. The margin of her win, however, was extraordinary. She received two-thirds of the vote, in spite of the fact that she was not supported by Matteo Renzi, the Prime Minister of Italy, and her political experience is somewhat limited. She has only served on the Rome city council for three years, after working on neighborhood boards.

She is a lawyer who was born and raised in Rome where she earned her law degree at Roma Tre University. In a country where a male position can become female with a change of one final vowel, the position of sindaco (mayor) was changed to sindaca by the press when she was elected. She informed them that she preferred to be called “Virginia.”

APPENDINOAnd Also: The same week Chiara Appendino became the First Woman mayor of Turin. This city is largely known
outside Italy because its cathedral, St. John the Baptist, holds the shroud believed to have wrapped Jesus. It is, however, also a key city in Italy’s history. In 1861 it was the first capital of a unified Italy and the home of Italy’s royal family.

So, two Italian capitals are now governed by women, both members of the Five Star Movement. These two stars are sure to create a new wind in Italy’s capital cities. Will it blow throughout the country?

Maria Harper-Marinick – First Woman Chancellor of Maricopa Community College

MARIA HARPER-MARINICK        Maria Harper-Marinick was recently appointed chancellor of Maricopa Community College, the First Woman to hold that position. She is also the first Latina higher-education chancellor in Arizona.

        Her background prepared her extensively for the position. She had served as Executive Vice President since 2010, overseeing much of the university’s operations. Her three primary focuses were on planning, student support and improving the stature and recognition of the college. Her focus was local, national, and international and she served in multiple organizations to achieve that agenda.

        A native of the Dominican Republic, Harper-Marinick came to Arizona as a Fulbright Scholar in 1982. Both her doctorate and master’s degrees are from Arizona State University. Even before she became Executive Vice President, Harper-Marinick was chosen the Maricopa Community College’s District Office Woman of Distinction, one of many awards and recognition for her work.

        Since Hispanics constitute almost a third of the population of Arizona and Maricopa County, her selection feels, to this outsider, like a reasonable choice. The appointment, however, was not without controversy. It seems some board members argued that the process was flawed since someone from inside was hired.

        When I worked at the University of California back in the 1970’s, higher education institutions revamped their hiring process to assure a “fair” system. All positions had to be announced publicly and, after a thorough search, the “best-qualified” candidate would be hired, without regard to gender or ethnic background. While this sounded equitable, it had the effect of stifling advancement for women within their own institutions, as there was almost always a man from outside the organization who had already served in the advertised position at another institution, making him the best qualified for the position.

        Given my experience, I am not surprised that this debate persists, but I am excited to see a woman promoted from within. It is time for women to be placed in positions for which they have demonstrated preparation, as has Maria Harper-Marinick.

First Women in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2016

TIME        Time magazine often highlights First Women in its annual list of 100 Most Influential People and this year was no exception. It is a pleasure to feature them on this blog posting, but also of interest is noting which people were selected by Time to write the profiles for the First Women. Three of these profilers hold firsts as well, two women and one man.

The one exception is the article on Angela Merkel, the first Chancellor of Germany. Honored for her work in accepting refugees, she was praised not by a First Woman but certainly by a powerful one: Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, an observant Muslim, was also featured. The First Woman to compete in the Olympic Games wearing her hijab, she will represent the United States States in the fencing competitions.


               The article on her was written by Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Christine Lagarde is also featured. As Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, she coordinates 100 nations in determining financial policies and assuring financial security. She was the First Woman to attain that position. She was also the First Woman to serve as Finance Minister in France, the First Woman in any developed country to reach that position. In the United States no woman has ever served as Secretary of the Treasury.

The article on Christine Lagarde was written by Janet Yellen, the First Woman Chair of the Federal Reserve System. Two years ago, when Janet Yellen was featured as one of the top 100, it was Christine Lagarde who wrote the article about Yellen’s achievements.

Another First Woman featured is Lori Robinson. At the time of publication Time could only anticipate the four-star general’s confirmation as the First Woman combatant commander. (She assumed the position on May 13, 2016.) She had previously led U.S. air forces in the Pacific, but now is the top general for military operations in North America with added responsibility for homeland security. It is one of the most senior positions in the U.S. military.

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        The article about her was written by Tammy Duckworth, a former Army helicopter pilot in Iraq. Currently a U.S. Representative from Illinois, she is the first Asian American Woman elected to Congress from Illinois and the First Woman disabled veteran to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.