After Karen Lipschultz DeCrow ’59 came across an interview about the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest organization of feminist activists in the U.S., the former journalist joined the organization and quickly rose through the ranks.
DeCrow established NOW’s Syracuse chapter and coordinated the national Women’s Strike for Equality while working toward her law degree at Syracuse University in 1972. She ran for mayor as a student in 1969, becoming the first female mayoral candidate in New York. Though she lost, DeCrow used the experience to organize a program to train women for politics.
An advocate for gender equality and representation of women, she served as the organization’s president from 1974 to 1977. Under DeCrow’s leadership, NOW campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, defended Title IX and ran the first Take Back the Night march. (She died in 2014.)
Three decades after DeCrow’s reign, Terry O’Neill ’74 was named president of NOW in 2009. Also a feminist attorney, O’Neill guided NOW’s updated multi-issue agenda until 2017 and oversaw the organization’s battle against Donald Trump’s travel ban. NOW also campaigned for awareness of voter suppression and worked to eliminate the culture of domestic violence in the NFL. Today O’Neill is executive director of the National Employment Lawyers Association.