Mona Hanna-Attisha and the Flint Water Crisis

By Dasha Matthews

Mona Hanna-Attisha is a first generation Iraqi immigrant, pediatrician, and public health advocate whose research exposed the Flint Water Crisis, revealing that children were being exposed to dangerous levels of lead in Flint, Michigan. Her research began after speaking with a friend who was a former employee for the Environmental Protection Agency in the Ground Water and Drinking Water Department. He told her that his team of Flint Water Study researchers found high levels of lead in Flint residents’ homes. After learning of this Dr. Hanna-Attisha began conducting her own research. Even though she was not provided the data she sought from the state of Michigan, she used hospital electronic medical records as data for her study.

On September 24, 2015, Dr. Hanna-Attisha revealed in a press conference at Hurley Medical Center that children’s lead levels doubled after the water was switched from the Detroit River to the Flint River in April of 2014. At the press conference she urged residents, particularly children, to stop drinking the water, to end Flint River as a water source as soon as possible, and urged the city of Flint to issue a health advisory. A day after Dr. Hanna-Attisha released her study, Flint issued a health advisory that suggested residents minimize exposure to Flint tap water. The water source was switched back to the Detroit river on October 16, 2015. Later, the city of Flint, the state of Michigan and the United States made emergency declarations.

Hanna-Attisha’s role in exposing the Flint Water Crisis has been broadcasted nationwide with appearances on CNN, The New York Times, and other media outlets. She also gave a TEDMED talk, entitled “Flint’s Fight for America’s Children” on November 1, 2016. She was also named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2016, stating, “Edwards and Hanna-Attisha were right, they were brave, and they were insistent. Flint is still a crime scene, but these two caring, tough researchers are the detectives who cracked the case.”

Women’s History Month Trivia


by Devashree Naik

Who is the current Chairperson and the CEO of the second largest food and beverage business in the world known for being the architect of the sustainability business model in that company?

Answer: Indra Nooyi

At the age of 51, Indra Nooyi assumed the role of the President and

CEO of the PepsiCo in 2006 and was promoted to the role of Chairperson in 2007. She has since been the chief architect of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s promise to do what’s right for the business by doing what’s right for people and the planet. This Mrs. Nooyi calls a “future-proof” model, the PepsiCo’s commitment to sustained growth with a focus on human, environmental, and talent sustainability and performance. In 2015, amid much controversy and shock to the investors, she pronounced that the PepsiCo is no longer a soda company. In her tenure of a Leader of largest food and beverage giant, she has been vocal about changing the image of the organization from a sugary carbonated beverage making company to a company that has a nice mix of healthy and fun products in its product line.

Indra Nooyi was born in Madras (now Chennai) in Tamil Nadu state in India. Growing up in a conservative Brahmin family, her homemaker mother instilled in her the confidence and a quality to push back against adversity, which Indra strongly believes being responsible for her success in the male-dominated industry. She holds a B.S. from Madras Christian College, an M.B.A. from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta and a Master’s of Public and Private Management from Yale University. She has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women.

In addition to being a member of the PepsiCo Board of Directors, Mrs. Nooyi serves as a member of the boards of U.S.-India Business Council, The Consumer Goods Forum, Catalyst, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Tsinghua University. She is also a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was appointed to the U.S.-India CEO Forum by the Obama Administration. Apart from her professional career, she was a lead guitar player in an all-women rock band in her hometown of Madras, India and was a cricket player in college. Her former boss at PepsiCo and now dean of business schools at Wake Forest University, Steven Reinemund, fondly talks about her as “a deeply caring person” who “can relate to people from the boardroom to the front line.”

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Thea Voutiritsas

This woman is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry.

Answer: Barbara “Dusty” Roads

image via

Barbara “Dusty” Roads is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry. From a young age, she loved aviation, but gave up on that dream in her teens when her father told her, “You can’t be an airline pilot darling, they don’t hire ladies.” She thought becoming a flight attendant would be the next best thing. However, she claims it was not a career at the time; it was more of a transition between graduating college and finding “Mr. Right.” Roads wasn’t much interested in finding a Mr. Right, and preferred to stay with the airline.

When airlines began imposing age limits on flight stewardesses and forcing women out at age 32, she became frustrated. In an interview with PBS, Roads said,

It made me angry, it really did. It violated my sense of fair play. The pilots could work until age 60 and we were fired at age 32. Something was wrong there. It just violated my midwestern core value of fair play.”

“[These rules] were in place when I joined the airline in 1950. And it was a real strange thing, but we accepted the fact that we were fired when we got married. They expected women to get fat and ugly when they got married and had babies. They felt you wouldn’t devote as much attention to the job as you should. Pilots – men — could be married, but it was different for a woman.”

The airlines wanted to sell the image of a young, single girl that would appeal to male passengers. However, Roads wasn’t buying it. She became a union officer in LA, then a national officer, and soon wanted to become an advocate for all flight attendants. “Finally,” she said, “I was interested in all women. And now I’m interested in humanity.”  In July 1965, Roads and her fellow stewardesses were at the doorstep of the Equal Opportunities Employment Commission (EEOC). By 1968, the EEOC issued a ruling prohibiting age ceilings or marriage bans in the airline industry.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Ann Varner

Who was the first woman stockbroker who demanded and got the right to join her male trainees on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange?

Answer: Norma Yaegar

Norma Yaeger was born in 1930 in New York City. As most women did in the 1950’s, Norma married young and started a family right away. She relied on her husband to support their family. When Norma’s husband lost his job, Norma decided she wanted to work in stock exchange and enrolled in the Hornblower and Weeks Inc. stockbroker training program in 1962. Not only was Norma the first woman to graduate a stockbroker training program, Norma fought to have equal pay as well as walk on the New York Stock Exchange floor – was the first woman to do so. Norma remarried after her divorce and moved to California. In 1981, she started her own brokerage firm, Yaeger Securities. She had licenses with many different exchanges. If you are interested in knowing more about this trailblazing woman, she has written a book called “Breaking Down the Walls.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Thea Voutiritsas

This woman was the plaintiff in the famous American employment discrimination case that led to the passing of Fair Pay Act in 2009.

Answer: Lilly Ledbetter

image via

Lilly Ledbetter was the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear from 1979 to 1998. Upon her retirement, she sued the company for paying her significantly less than her male counterparts. When the lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, it was denied because she did not file within 180 days of her first paycheck. Ledbetter argued that she did not know of the pay discrepancy at the time. United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in defense of Ledbetter, stating:

“Initially, Ledbetter’s salary was in line with the salaries of men performing substantially similar work. Over time, however, her pay slipped in comparison to the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority. By the end of 1997… Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 permonth, the highest paid $5,236.”

Ledbetter’s case and Ginsburg’s dissent led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was introduced in 2007. The Act revised the law to allow for claims of discrimination to be included, even if they occurred outside of the 180-day statue of limitations. In 2009, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.

Ledbetter’s case proved that discrimination often takes place in small increments over time, and in ways that are difficult to measure and sometimes even harder to prove. Without knowledge of her coworker’s salary, on top of her slowly dwindling paycheck, it was hard for Ledbetter to take action against the discrimination she was experiencing. However, her fight for equal pay paved the way for future cases, and exposed the problems of insidious discrimination.


Women’s History Month Trivia

by Zaquoya Rogers

Who serves as the Chairperson and the CEO of one of the fastest growing Women-Owned Business in the United States and served as the Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2014?

Answer: Nina Vaca

By Nina Vaca [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Nina Vaca is one independent Latina who is not only a civil leader, but the CEO and chairman of Pinnacle Group, which was named the fastest growing women-owned business in the U.S. 2015. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Vaca was inspired by her parents who owned several small business in LA. She attended Texas State University and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and a minor in Business Administration. She later received education from Harvard Business School and holds honorary doctorates from Northwood University, Mount Mary University, Berkeley College. She currently serves as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) through the United States Department of Commerce and sits on the boards of three publicly-traded companies. Vaca is part of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, from the Aspen Institute, a new generation of leaders to positively impact society. Vaca is part of the 100 CEO Leaders in STEM publication by STEMconnector, in an effort to identify, showcase, and honor STEM leadership.

Vaca has also served as a Mentor for the Peace Through Business program, a business training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda.  In addition, she is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, the Women Presidents’ Organization, and the Dallas Citizens Council. She is also active in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – Southwest, as well as the DFW National Minority Supplier Development Council.




Women’s History Month Trivia

by Korrien Hopkins

Who was the youngest woman ever to serve as the Director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau, also known for her handling of the 1997 UPS worker’s strike?

Answer: Alexis Herman

By US Department of Labor (Information About the Secretary of Labor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Herman was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama. Her father Alex Herman was a politician and her mother, Gloria Caponis, was an educator. Herman graduated from Heart of Mary High School in Mobile in 1965 and enrolled in Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. At Xavier, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1969.  She began her career working for Catholic Charities helping young people find employment. At the age of twenty-nine, President Carter’s appointment made her the youngest director of the Women’s Bureau in the history of the Labor Department. In 1992, she became the 1st African American woman to serve as an Assistant to the president as the Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. On May 1, 1997, Herman was sworn in as America’s 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American ever to lead the United States Department of Labor. She also served as a valued member of the National Economic Council during her tenure as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

Herman focused on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces while working as secretary. She consolidated the Department’s wide array of skills development programs into a simpler, more efficient system. She led the effort to institute a global child labor standard. This in result moved people from welfare to work and launched the most aggressive unemployed youth initiative since the 1970’s. Under her tenure, unemployment reached a thirty-year low and remains so today. The nation witnessed the safest workplace record in the history of the Department of Labor.

 Today, Alexis Herman serves as chair and CEO of New Ventures, LLC, a Risk Management Firm. She continues to lend her expertise and talent too many corporate enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Herman is a former trustee of her Alma Mater, Xavier University of Louisiana. She Co-Chaired the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund and was a member of the board of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Presently, she chairs the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board. She works for nonprofits serving as a Trustee for the National Urban League, a member of the Executive Board of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the president of the Dorothy I. Height Educational Foundation.

The success of Alexis Herman is very important and beneficial to me. Her accomplishments opened many door for women of color .While at the Women’s Bureau, Herman pressured corporate giants to hire women of color. For the first time, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, General Motors and others put diversity on their list of hiring priorities. She is a main contributing factor to the diversity in Americas Corporate businesses today. I’m truly grateful for Alexis Herman paving the way.

Today’s Trivia: Who is the woman unanimously elected Judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, making her the first Native American woman Federal Judge?

You may have heard Diane Humetewa’s name recently as a possible candidate to fill the position of Supreme Court Justice after the sudden death of Antonin Scalia. Humetewa was recently appointed Federal Judge to the U.S. District Court for Arizona, a historic appointment, making her the only active Native American judge and the first female Native American judge. Humetewa’s has spent her career working as a victim advocate, prosecuted violent crime cases, and advised on Indian Country issues.

Humetewa is a graduate of Arizona State University, earning her B.A. in 1987 and her J.D. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 1993. She served as victim-witness advocate for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona in 1986, prior to earning her law degree. Following her graduation from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, shNational_5e served as counsel to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, before returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona in 1996, where she worked as a Special Assistant then Assistant U.S. Attorney. In 2001, she worked as an appeals judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court, where she fostered relationships between the office and Arizona’s Indian tribes. At the same time, she supervised the U.S. Attorney’s victim Witness program.

In 2007, she was appointed to U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona by President George W. Bush, where she served until he left office. Then-Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) described her as “the first Native American woman and, as far as I know, the first victim advocate, to serve our nation in this important office.”

Humetewa left office at the end of Bush’s Presidency, where she returned to the Arizona State University where she worked as a special advisor on American Indian affairs until Senator McCain nominated her for federal judge in 2013. Humetewa was unanimously elected to the position, and was sworn in in 2014. McCain described her as having “an impressive legal background, ranging from work as prosecutor and an appellate court judge to the Hopi Nation to service as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.”

Today’s Trivia: Who was the first Hispanic woman to serve as Supreme Court Justice?

Sonia Sotomayor

by Logan Snook

Fearless. Role model. Trail blazer. Committed. All four of these has been used to describe Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor went straight to work upon her appointment as Associate Judge in 2009 by President Barack Obama, “skipping the shy period of settling into the job and beginning to fire questions during oral arguments immediately.” Throughout her career, Sotomayor has been known for her fiery-attitude and commitment to her work, traits that she has exhibited her entire life.

Sotomayor was born to a Puerto Rican family, and grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx in New York. Her mother was a nurse, and her father worked in manual labor until he passed away when Sotomayor was only 9. Her mother worked tirelessly to support her family and send her children to private Catholic school, where Sotomayor graduated valedictorian. It was her mother that instilled in Sotomayor a strong work ethic and a belief in the power of education.

Sotomayor received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where she earned her B.A. in History, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor in 1976. She went on to earn her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979. Both at Princeton and Yale, Sotomayor worked with Latin American student groups and wrote and published pieces centered on Puerto Rican subjects.

After graduating from Yale, Sotomayor served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office for 5 years. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, where she served from 1992-1998. It was here that Sotomayor became known as the judge who “saved” Major League Baseball during a tempestuous 1995 strike. From 1998–2009, she served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit at the appointment of President Bill Clinton.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, taking the seat of David Souter after his retirement. This appointment was widely celebrated, making Sotomayor the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, as well as the first person to serve from the working-class Bronx. Sotomayor’s voice in the Supreme Court has been firm and just, often leaning to the liberal side. She has worked to prohibit state universities from considering race in the admissions process, voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Sotomayor is strongly connected to the community and helping youths of America. She has recruited judges to invite young women to the courthouse on Take Your Daughter to Work Day to introduce them to Government, mentors young students from troubled neighborhoods, and has created the Development School for Youth program, working with inner city high school students to teach them how to function in a work setting, and opening possibilities for them they did not know were possible.

Incase this isn’t enough, in 2012, Sotomayor stopped by Sesame Street to talk about careers and being a Supreme Court Justice for children, and it is the sweetest, most empowering video.


Today’s Trivia: Who was the first African-American woman appointed to Surgeon General of the United States?

Joycelyn Elders, 16th Surgeon General of U.S.

by Logan Snook

When Joycelyn Elders was appointed the first African-American woman appointed as the U.S. Surgeon General, she took the bull by the horns. Elders controversial views on sexual education and drug legalization caused for a tempestuous time in office, and she resigned from the post after only 15 months. While the controversy of her viewpoints severely affected her political career, Elder’s told CNN in a 2005 interview: “If I had to do it all over again today, I would do it the same way.”National_3

Elders was born in rural Arkansas in 1933. She was one of 8 children who lived in a home with no running water, and from the age of 5, split her time working picking cotton with her siblings and attending a segregated school 13 miles away. Elder’s never met a doctor until she attended college, which inspired her to study Biology. This is where everything took off.

After graduating from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1952, she worked as a nurse’s aid in a Veterans Administration hospital in Milwaukee. In 1953, she joined the Army, where she spent 3 years training as a physical therapist. After leaving the army, Elder’s enrolled at the University of Arkansas Medical School, where she earned her M.D. degree in 1960, completed an internship at the University of Minnesota Hospital, and held her residency in pediatrics at the University of Arkansas Medical Center. She later went back and completed an M.S. in Biochemistry in 1967.

Elder’s has remained close to the University of Arkansas Medical Center for most of her career. In 1967 she joined faculty as an assistant professor in pediatrics, where she was promoted to professor in 1976. During her time here, she became increasingly interested in endocrinology, and became the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology in 1978, and became an expert on childhood sexual development.

In 1987, then-Governor of Arkansas bill Clinton appointed her as head of the Arkansas Department of Health, where she mandated a K-12 curriculum covering sexual education, substance-abuse awareness, and promoting self-esteem in children and teenagers. She nearly expanded sexual education, doubled the rate of immunizations for toddlers, and dramatically increased the number of early childhood screenings. In 1993, President Clinton appointed her as Surgeon General, where she continued to advocate for health and sexual education in schools, and promoted universal health coverage.

Because of these outspoken and controversial views, primarily on sex education, Elder’s was highly criticized by conservatives which led to her resignation after only 15 months in office. She returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center as professor of pediatrics.

Now retired from University of Arkansas Medical Center, Elder’s is still working to improve public health education in the U.S. You can learn more about her in her autobiography, Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America.