The Michigan American Council on Education Women’s Network honored three women as part of its 2014 class of Public Policy Pioneers, each of whom has spent her career championing women’s equality issues as well as matters that impact her community.
The Honorable Lana Pollack and the Honorable Alma Wheeler Smith were recognized for their achievements as contemporary honorees while the Honorable Martha Griffiths, M.C., was saluted posthumously during the MI-ACE Annual Conference June 2 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.
Public Policy Pioneers are women who have impacted public policy or taken precedent-breaking action on behalf of women and higher education, and who have championed access, collaborative leadership and the equitable treatment of women. They are women who have affected public policy through their sustained efforts and who have led the way through their example and service for other women to follow. It is a nonpartisan recognition. Click here to read more about the inaugural class of Public Policy Pioneers.
“It was particularly meaningful to bestow honors on two women who were considered pillars in the Michigan political arena, as well as nationally, in the inaugural year of the Public Policy Pioneers recognition,” said MaryLee Davis, chair of the MI-ACE Women’s Network Public Policy Committee. “This year’s honorees again shine light on the amazing work of women who have served tirelessly to support their communities.”
Below is information about each pioneer.
Sen. Lana Pollack – Michigan Senate (1983-94); Michigan Environmental Council (1996-2008); Chair, U.S. Section, International Joint Commission (2010-present): Inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002, Pollack is known as a leading advocate for women and children, and the environment. She established two bi-partisan coalitions, one to promote policies preventing teen pregnancy and another to fight gun violence. She also wrote a bill amending Michigan’s civil rights law to end discriminatory practices that kept women athletes off the state’s private golf courses during peak times and relegated them to second-class facilities within their own clubhouses. Additionally, she is credited with introducing legislation that would later be called the “Polluter Pay Law.”
Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith – Michigan Senate (1995-2002), Michigan House of Representatives (2005-10): There is not an issue of concern for women and families that Wheeler Smith did not champion. She has worked for equal access to education and creating educational opportunities for people from preschool to graduate school, a safe and clean environment, vital urban centers, full access to health care for everyone, a healthy business sector, and protection of the civilrights and liberties of all of Michigan’s citizens. Known as a role model, she has been a mentor and advocate for women inside and outside the political arena.
Lt. Gov. Martha Griffiths, M.C. (deceased) – U.S. House of Representatives (1955-74), two-time lieutenant governor of Michigan (1983-91): Known as a fighter for women’s rights, Griffiths was the first woman representative to win appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee, and she was the first female lieutenant governor in Michigan. Biographers note the first of her two greatest contributions to the women’s rights movement were to champion inclusion of the sex discrimination amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act – later prompting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more vigorously enforce the act. She also is credited with resurrecting the Equal Rights Amendment before Congress in the early 1970s.