President, National Organization for Women (NOW) 1991-2001
As the longest-serving president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 1991 to 2001, Patricia Ireland helped move NOW to the forefront of the political scene, build a strong, effective women’s movement and establish herself as a groundbreaking activist. Patricia emerged as one of the most influential feminist leaders in this country and a leading figure in the world-wide feminist movement.
Patricia found her calling when she confronted discrimination as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airline. Patricia credits NOW’s help and federal affirmative action laws for her success in winning equal health benefits at Pan Am. She saw law as a powerful tool for positive change and enrolled in law school while continuing to fly internationally, earning her law degree in 1975.
Widely recognized as a key player in improving social and economic conditions for women, Patricia is especially adept at challenging people to make the connections between women’s rights and other human rights issues. A hallmark of her work has been to forge stronger links among the feminist, antipoverty, civil rights, disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements.
Patricia returned to Miami in 2005, having served as a national officer of NOW in Washington, D.C., for 14 years. She currently practices labor law, representing unions and their members, and is working on a second book to follow her 1996 political autobiography What Women Want.
Patricia has been awarded honorary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Law School, University of Rhode Island, Indiana University and Sweetbriar College.