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The Women Lead Change nonprofit organization has announced four honorees for the 2022 Iowa Women of Achievement Awards recognizing the contributions of historical women in the Hawkeye State who made outstanding and lasting contributions to the citizens of Iowa, the nation and/or the world.
This year’s honorees include Mary J. Whitely Coggeshall, Dr. Christine Grant, Maria “Running Moccasins” Pearson and LaMetta Wynn, according to a news release.
Permanent plaques placed on the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines will recognize the honorees. Friends and family also are invited to celebrate at the awards luncheon, in conjunction with the Central Iowa Conference, on Oct. 25 at the Iowa Events Center. Register at https://www.wlcglobal.org/events/iowa-women-achievement-awards-luncheon.
Mary J. Whitely Coggeshall (1836-1911)
Coggeshall was a state and national leader, orator and writer in the suffrage movement. Suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, who founded the League of Women Voters, named Coggeshall as the mother of woman suffrage in Iowa.
In 1865, she settled in Des Moines as a dedicated women’s rights advocate. Coggeshall was the first woman west of the Mississippi River to be elected to the National American Woman Suffrage Association board. She addressed state House and Senate committees regularly and held other roles in local and national suffrage associations.
Dr. Christine Grant (1936-2021)
Grant was the first director of Women’s Athletics at the University of Iowa, and was a national leader and expert in gender equity in athletics. She was a strong advocate for Title IX and girls and women in sports, and a founding member of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Grant held roles on several NCAA committees, Women Leaders in College Sports and Iowa Women’s Foundation.
As a consultant and spokesperson for Title IX, Grant testified before Congress. She taught thousands about how the federal civil rights law barring sex-based discrimination works and how to comply within athletics.
Maria “Running Moccasins” Pearson (1932-2003)
Pearson was an internationally-known Native American leader who was considered the mother of repatriation. Her work with former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray led to the Iowa Burials Protection Act, making Iowa a national leader in its passage of this law that protects ancient burial sites and also provides for the recovery and reburial of ancient human skeletal remains.
After advocating across the nation, this bill led to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act being passed at the federal level. Pearson served as the governor’s Liaison for Indian Affairs, and acted as an adviser on Indian health and rights.
LaMetta Wynn (1933-2021)
Wynn became the first Black woman to become mayor in any Iowa municipality when she was elected as the mayor of Clinton in 1995. She served on state commissions as appointed by three governors.
Through annual trips to Washington, D.C., she secured $50 million in federal aid for the city of Clinton. Wynn was a registered nurse and served on the Mercy Hospital Board of Directors and Clinton Community School Board.
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