Nora Bredes, a former Suffolk County, N.Y., legislator and longtime activist in women's, environmental, and public health issues, has been named director of the Susan B. Anthony University Center at the University of Rochester.
Bredes will be responsible for the development, expansion, organization, and implementation of educational programs for the University and the community about women's issues in careers, education, health care, business and public policy at the regional, national, and international levels.
"Nora inspired great enthusiasm in all those who were part of the search for a new director for the Susan B. Anthony University Center," said Provost Charles Phelps. "We're very pleased that the University will benefit from her terrific experience and impressive achievements. We look forward to working with Nora to advance the work of the center."
Bredes succeeds Nan Johnson, who is retiring at the end of June. Johnson was one of the co-creators of the center and was named director when it opened in 1995.
Bredes, who moved to the Rochester area last year, was first elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 1992. During her three terms, she secured programs to help domestic violence victims, improve child support collection, restrict smoking and the sale of tobacco products, and set aside funds for land preservation. Bredes was a candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1996, earning endorsements from the New York Times and Newsday as well as environmental, women's, and law enforcement and labor groups.
Before her election to public office, Bredes distinguished herself as an advocate and leader in a variety of positions. For 10 years, she directed the educational, lobbying, and legal efforts of the Shoreham Opponents Coalition, a citizen-led group that helped to halt operation of the Shoreham Nuclear Plant. During this period, Bredes also served as a gubernatorial trustee of the state's Long Island Power Authority. From 1990 to 1992, she was the founding executive director of the statewide NY League of Conservation Voters. Bredes was also a county legislative aide and an adjunct faculty member at Adelphi University, developing and teaching courses in issue advocacy and public relations.
Bredes has been honored for her advocacy work with awards from the Environmental Planning Lobby, the Long Island Sierra Club, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, National Organization for Women, Suffolk County social workers, and other organizations. She was named a National Grassroots Hero by Mother Jones Magazine and Woman of the Year by the Times-Beacon Newspapers.
Bredes will take over as full-time director of the Susan B. Anthony University Center on July 1.
"The wealth of connections, experience and insight Nan Johnson brought to her work has really built a solid foundation for the center, and there's a sense of security and comfort in her groundwork," Bredes commented. "At the same time, there's the challenge of stepping onto the path she's set and continuing the programs while exploring new ones. I'm very excited and can't wait to be more involved."
She's been impressed by the influence the center has had on the community's appreciation of the role of women and in considering how the community can help shape and enlarge women's place in society, Bredes said.
"There's a very deep and enthusiastic commitment to the goals of women's equality across many fields," she noted. "It makes a very creative environment to work in."
Bredes said she would like to build on the center's work with women in public health education and economic equity, especially forging links between the University and women in local government in the New York region and across the country. Her first step, however, will be to meet with interested individuals in the University and Greater Rochester community as she drafts a strategic plan for the center's future course.