Since its beginnings in 1966 with only 300 members, to its operation today with ranks of nearly 300,000, the National Organization for Women's agenda has paralleled the status of women and women's issues in society. The work of this group demonstrates how much concerned individuals, working together, can accomplish for the betterment of their cause by helping focus the attention of the public and lawmakers on specific issues. NOW originally grew out of some people's dissatisfaction with what they perceived as inaction on the part of the fledgling Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to sexual discrimination policy and the civil rights of women. The focus has changed to reflect the various pressing issues of the times for women. Patricia Ireland, NOW's president today, took office in 1991. She had been an attorney with a corporate law firm in Miami and a legal adviser to Florida's NOW chapter before going to work full time as NOW's vice president in 1987. She has guided that organization through the aftermath of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings, which brought the focus to issues of harassment of women in the workplace, through the Supreme Court's mid-1992 reaffirmation of the basic principles laid down in Roe vs. Wade, and through the waves of anti-abortion activism that have sometimes proven violent. Ireland will speak at the University of South Florida in Tampa on March 10 about where women are now in regard to rights and where NOW's focus needs to be in the mid-'90s and the future. Her talk, called "NOW, More than Ever," will be at 8 p.m. in Cooper Hall, Room 103 at the University, 4202 E Fowler Ave. Seating is limited; advance tickets can be obtained in person at the University Center (Tampa campus) information desk (974-3180). Free.
For women: What builds success?
Who better to ask about the road to success than women who have walked the path? As part of its annual Week of the Woman celebration, which this year has been themed "Women as Role Models for Future Generations," Morton Plant Health System (Clearwater) will sponsor a panel discussion called "Secrets of Highly Successful Women." The panel will feature several accomplished local women, among them, Marsha Griffin Rydberg, partner in the Tampa law firm of Rydberg, Goldstein and Bolves and a member of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women; Peggy Peterman, columnist for the Times; and Mary Cummings, member of the Morton Plant Hospital Board of Trustees (and others). The event will be at 7 p.m. March 10 at Morton Plant Continuing Education Center, 1234 Druid Road, Clearwater. RSVP required; call 462-7500. Free.
_ RUTH WALSH
Is your organization, self-help group or program open to the public? If so, let us know about it. Write (no information taken over the phone) to Ruth Walsh, Newsfeatures, the Times, P.O. Box 419, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-0419.