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Women Leaders in New Canaan: Celebrating the Legacy of the 19 Amendment

Sponsored by the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, NCTV Channel 79 and New Canaan civic organizations

also ,, which will Beginning September 15th, the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society and NCTV Channel 79 will present “Women Leaders in New Canaan: Celebrating the Legacy of the 19th Amendment.”

Television interviews and articles will showcase nineteen women leaders in New Canaan whose diverse achievements share a common theme: these women have given tirelessly to the Town of New Canaan and to improving the community in which they live.  Their work has shaped the New Canaan of today.

“Women Leaders in New Canaan” was conceived as a means to not only celebrate, but also to explore the legacy of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which occurred on August 18, 1920.  It stated: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  As historians make clear, though, the history of the 19th Amendment, like much of American history, is complex, fraught with racism and the product of negotiation and compromise.  But what is also clear is that the suffragist movement paved the way for the broader women’s rights movement – one that opened educational and professional opportunities, incorporated reproductive rights and allowed women to own property and manage their business and financial affairs.  Passage of the amendment helped women thrive and flourish.

The stories of New Canaan women leaders illustrate both how they are the beneficiaries of a struggle for suffrage and equal rights that began almost two hundred years ago and how those struggles continue today as women face down barriers to full participation and recognition in every sector of our society.

The women profiled in this exhibit were chosen for their accomplishments in myriad professions, their demonstrated leadership, and their commitment to New Canaan.  They include: Executive Director of Staying Put Barb Achenbaum; corporate executive and Founder of the New Canaan Domestic Abuse Partnership Dede Bartlett; Communications and Marketing Director for The Glass House Christa Carr; entrepreneur Indira Christie; Founding Director of Voices of September 11 Mary Fetchet; Quinnipiac Law School professor Marilyn Ford; Founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Kathy Giusti; corporate board director Lori Marcus; architect Amanda Martocchio; head of the Art Department at New Canaan High School Jeanne McDonagh; Town Administrator Tucker Murphy; former First Selectman Judy Neville; the organizer of the Black Lives Matter protest Fatou Niang; Executive Director of the New Canaan Library Lisa Oldham; President of the New Canaan Community Foundation Lauren Patterson; President of Grace Farms Sharon Prince; photographer Jeanna Shepherd; Founder of LiveGirl Sheri West; and Director of Health & Human Services Bethany Zaro.

Meredith Bach, President of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, will conduct the interviews, which will air beginning September 15.  They will be available here on this page along with articles, which will also appear in the Museum’s newsletter. The entire series will be archived at the Museum.

We hope you will join in the journey with these New Canaan women who stand on the shoulders of giants and inspire us, lead us and, perhaps most of all in this moment in our national history, give us hope.