Thanks to a tip from a friend, I just got alerted to Legacy Washington, the nonprofit that celebrates events and people in this state. In honor of Women’s History Month, Legacy Washington has assembled an exhibit of trailblazing women, “Ahead of the Curve.”
Included in the on-line exhibit are some amazing individuals, past and present. Legacy Washington not only named the women but produced biographies explaining their matchless contributions. Among them are former Gov. Christine Gregoire, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, TAF school founder Trish Millines Dziko, KING Broadcasting founder Dorothy Bullitt, and Veterans Affairs director Lourdes “Alfie” Alvarado-Ramos.
Legacy Washington concludes that the nearly two dozen women illustrate a “pioneering spirit of some larger-than-life women and their little-known work with big impacts on the nation and beyond.”
It’s a most impressive group but the list is far too short. There are dozens who should have also been included, so I’d like to nominate a few. How about Amy Arkwright Hutton, the one-time Idaho boarding house owner, who struck it rich, moved to Spokane and then traveled to Olympia to persuade the all-male legislature to approve votes for women ten years before passage of the 19th Amendment?
Missing, too, are amazing contemporary leaders like Sen. Patty Murray whom President Biden just cited as having worked to add the child tax credit to the stimulus package. The provision pushed by Murray and Rep. Rosa DeLauro is projected to cut child poverty by as much as half and is regarded as the most aggressive federal intervention to help poor children since the New Deal.
Also missing are some local politicos like Ruby Chow, the successful restaurateur and community activist who became the first Asian-American elected to the King County Council. Chow also deserves credit for her earlier role in electing Wing Luke, Seattle’s first Asian-American councilmember and the first Asian-American elected in the Northwest. Chow raised campaign funds for Luke and had Chinese restaurateurs pass out cookies with a fortune that read, “Wise to elect Wing Luke.”
Also absent from the exhibit are local sport heroes like soccer great Megan Rapinoe and WNBA champ Sue Bird. Then, too, are the many women who have been notable leaders in the arts, individuals such as Mimi Gardner Gates who put the Seattle Arts Museum on the map, presiding over SAM’s ambitious downtown expansion and creating the Olympic Sculpture Park. Nor can we forget Nellie Centennial Cornish, the pianist, teacher, and writer who in 1914 founded the Cornish School of the Arts, directing it for the next 25 years. In addition are the region’s many women artists, wonderful originals like Barbara Earl Thomas and Doris Chase.
Other women have headed environmental causes, school reform, civil rights, and social justice groups, not to mention women who have headed labor unions and religious organizations and merit placement “Ahead of the Curve.”
The Legacy Washington trailblazer feature was a great start on recognizing some of the standouts who put this corner of the continental United States on the map. The list, like mine, is just a beginning, so scores will be added.