When she founded the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., in 1972, Marcia Greenberger was told the issues she was raising weren’t serious and, as a result, she wouldn’t be taken seriously either. She did it anyway and ended up building a legacy that surprises even her.
“I have to admit I didn’t anticipate the job would be a career,” Greenberger says. “I wasn’t sure the project and ultimately the organization I was founding would be able to sustain itself, let alone grow and develop in prestige. I also didn’t understand the complexity of the barriers that stood and still stand in the way of women and girls living up to their full potential. I just decided to go for it because the issues were so important to me.”
Another veteran women’s advocate, Lynn Hecht Schafran, director of the National Judicial Education Program at Legal Momentum in New York City, recalls the skepticism in 1987 when she gave a presentation to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession on what it was like to be a woman lawyer.
“After [the presentation], I heard that Randolph Thrower, who’d headed and resigned from the Internal Revenue Service when President Richard Nixon tried to use it for political purposes, was rolling his eyes,” Schafran says. “He said he was going home to find the truth. He put together a meeting of his own daughter and three other prominent lawyers and was so shocked by what he heard that he became our poster boy, traveling around the country supporting our efforts.”