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September 21, 2011

University remembers Nora Bredes, director of Anthony Center

Nore BredesNora Bredes, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, is remembered for her leadership and vision as a longtime activist in women’s, environmental, and public health issues.

Bredes died Aug. 18 of complications from breast cancer. She was 60.

“Nora Bredes made enormous contributions to the advancement of women in politics in New York State by creating programs and initiatives that support women’s aspirations and talents,” says President Joel Seligman. “Her research on women in politics had an impact on the democratic process at the state, regional, and national levels. Nora was a person of extraordinary commitment and intelligence who made a difference in the life of our University. I am deeply saddened by her too early death. She will be profoundly missed.”

Bredes had served since 1999 as director of the Anthony Center, where her work celebrated women’s achievements and analyzed barriers to their progress.

“Nora Bredes was dedicated to furthering Susan B. Anthony’s enduring vision for women, both on campus and within the Rochester community,” says Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Kuncl. “Among her many accomplishments at the University was the expansion of the center’s hallmark program, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Susan B. Anthony Conversations, and the creation of a history conference about the life and times of Susan B. Anthony. More than that, she was passionate about the substantive political change that women could achieve in American political life if given the chance.”

In 2006, she created “100 Years Since Susan B.,” a yearlong, community-wide examination of women’s progress since Susan B. Anthony’s death in 1906. In 2010, under her leadership, the Anthony Center launched the First Women website, an online resource dedicated to the first women elected to political office in New York State.

Before coming to the Anthony Center in 1999, Bredes spent more than 20 years working in government and for nonprofit organizations. From 1992 to 1998, she served on the Suffolk County (N.Y.) Legislature, winning passage of comprehensive anti-tobacco measures, improving protections for victims of domestic violence, and sponsoring the Greenways Bond Act, a measure that secured $62 million to preserve Suffolk’s open space, parks, and farmlands.

In 1996, she was a candidate for U.S. Congress, winning the endorsement of the New York Times, which described her as “a reform-minded member of the Suffolk County Legislature who has proved a tenacious and effective advocate for the causes she pursues.” In 2009, she ran as a Democratic candidate for Monroe County (N.Y.) Legislature.

Before becoming a legislator, Bredes directed the New York League of Conservation Voters. From 1980 to 1989, she led the Shoreham Opponents Coalition in a successful effort to prevent operation of the Long Island Lighting Company’s Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. The grassroots campaign against the nuclear plant eventually won support from a majority of Long Island’s citizens and elected officials. In 1987, then Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed Bredes as a founding trustee of the Long Island Power Authority.

Bredes earned numerous honors during her career, including Champion for Public Health (1995/1998, American Cancer Society); Woman of the Year in Government (1995, Times-Beacon Newspapers); Environmentalist of the Year (1994, Long Island Sierra Club); New York State Environmentalist of the Year (Environmental Advocates, 1986); and one of 10 National Grassroots Heroes (1990, Mother Jones magazine).

She also served on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations.

Bredes was born and raised in Huntington, N.Y., received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and also studied family and community education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught “Women in Politics” in Rochester’s Department of Political Science.

The University flag at the Eastman Quadrangle will be lowered Saturday, Sept. 24, in honor of Bredes.

Bredes is survived by her husband, Jack Huttner of Pittsford, N.Y., and their three sons, Nathan, Tobias, and Gabriel; her mother, Dorothy Black of Lakewood, Ohio; a brother, Donald, of Danville, Vt.; and a sister, Amy, of Port Jefferson, N.Y.

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