University of Rochester

Feminist Leader to Speak at Event Honoring Nan Johnson

March 10, 1999

Eleanor Smeal, president of The Feminist Majority Foundation and a leader in the drive for women's equality, will be the guest speaker at the Woman of the Year Award dinner sponsored by the Women's Caucus at the University of Rochester.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, in The Meliora in the Frederick Douglass Building on River Campus to honor 1999 award recipient Nan Johnson. Known for her active political and educational leadership on behalf of women, Johnson is retiring in June as director of the Susan B. Anthony University Center at the University.

Tickets to the dinner are $20 each. They can be purchased by check payable to University of Rochester Women's Caucus and mailed to: Women's Caucus, University of Rochester, Wilson Commons, Rochester, NY 14627. For more information, contact Anne Stemwedel, (585) 274-2338.

Johnson served as a Monroe County legislator for 20 years and chaired its Human Services Committee. As the first woman and Democrat to serve as majority leader of the legislative body, and as the first woman to run for Monroe County Executive, Johnson helped set a precedent for local women in elective office.

Last summer, Johnson was a co-director of Forum 98, a national women's issues conference on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first women's rights convention. In 1995, Johnson co-chaired the national celebration, known as "95/75," which commemorated the 75th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

"This is the first time that the Women's Caucus has held a dinner to present the Woman of the Year Award," said Tiffany Miller, Caucus president. "We want to give Nan special recognition because she has done so much. She's an exceptional role model and mentor and has cleared a path for other women."

Smeal, the guest speaker, has campaigned for women's right for more than 25 years. She served three terms as president of the National Organization for Women, longer than any other person. She led the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, developed the National Clinic Access Project to train defense volunteers at women's health clinics, and pioneered the use of the Internet as a feminist organizing and research tool by launching Feminists Majority On-line ( as one of the first women's organization sites on the World Wide Web.

The 1999 Woman of the Year Award Dinner is co-sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students.