Women Leaders and Activists
Experiences of Women Leaders and Activists as told by CGCC Students in partnership with Chandler Museum's Public History Program
What kinds of jobs have you held?

Narrator: Pam Petty
Interviewer: Summer Rohde

SR: You went to college in Tucson, and you obtained your degree in teaching. What kind of jobs have you held?

PP: I've been a teacher my whole life. I got married in 1967; I followed my spouse to Fort Benning, Georgia for his basic training. He had signed on as a volunteer during the Vietnam crisis. After training his assignment was in Alaska. I lived the life, two years as an officer's wife. Came back, and he went to Vietnam. I survived. I taught for a year at the high school I attended. He came home, and of course I was immediately pregnant. And so we had a baby. Right at the time when she arrived in 1971, the women's movement began. It actually began in 1969 or 1970.

Ms. Magazine was published in 1970 or 1971, well the first issue. I desperately had to have that first issue, and so I went out and bought it. It was like, "oh my goodness, oh my goodness, this is unbelievable." It was so moving, and so thrilling about what was in the articles. Anyways, that coincides with the birth of my daughter in May. By June I thought this isn't going to work. It's hot, and I don't know what I'm going to do, other then, raise this daughter. So I thought I've got to figure out something else, I've got to recreate this a little bit. I think, looking back, in retrospect and I was being transformed by the women's movement at the same time she was being born. So I was reading, I'm a reader. I read probably 30 books. I was determined to learn it [the feminist movement] all. So I called over to ASU and I called the education college and asked them, "I would really like to be a librarian. What do you have?" They said, "No one is here; we can't help you." I said, "Well fine." So I called the history department, they are wonderful at ASU, and the secretary said, "You know there are lots of people around. Why don't you make an appointment with somebody and come on over?" I said, "OK" and so they connected me with a man named Manual Servin. He said, "Why don't you come over and we'll chat; you know I think you should do another history degree." I said, "I'd rather anyways." So I went over and we talked and he said, "Let's just set you up for a graduate program in history. Wouldn't you rather do that than Library Science?" I said, "Well YEAH." I became his student, and I started going to graduate school at that time. I went half time, or less than half time. It took me 5 years. I supported it [college] by working part-time as a teacher. I did help out [the household by] teaching.

So my husband was beginning his civilian career and I was in grad school with a new baby. So, a little bit of work, a little bit of baby, and a little bit of grad school. It worked out. It was a nice balance. I was lucky because the price [for college] was good at that point and I still didn't know what I was going to do with [my degree] it. And that really is the nature about being the age that I am. It was still an insurance policy in case I ever had to work. But as the years progressed while I was in grad school the women's movement was fully formed. By 1976 when I submitted and defended my thesis, you know, I was a feminist. What that meant was I expected to do something NOW with my education, which was very different from where I started.

So when I finished, I immediately started teaching at Glendale Community College. I taught there for years, while the kids were young, teaching history. It was still an era when economically a family could survive on one income. So there was no need to teach economically, and yet work began to become very important to me. I think being inspired by the women's movement; I knew that I had to have something beyond my home obligations. So I did. My work life was formed by the women's movement. I didn't have permission to work by society. There were no expectations of it. There was a bit of a model, where my mother worked but not till the children were grown. So I think what happened was work become real important to me. But also being a mother was so important. I was determined to do both, which causes fatigue. So actually I was not politically active. What happened to many of us was that we were inspired by the women's movement to change our personal lives and that became a political action.

Interviewer: Esther Baca
Narrator: Rita Bresnahan

EB: What kinds of jobs have you held?

RB: Oh, let's see. Through college, to support myself, I think I had eight different jobs. Once was at Marshall Field's in downtown Chicago; I was a sales girl. And I did various jobs and work …anything to make tuition for the next semester. Then I worked on the newspaper. That was probably about 6 years. Then I had my children and stayed home 14 years. And then I went back to work part time at the community college. We moved to Valentine, Illinois and I taught women's history, women's literature, and different courses and then I developed a program for displaced homemakers--for women who were either widowed or divorced, so we had a program to help them with some counseling. We helped them decide how they were going to support their children and what they were going to do to move on.

EB: Was that part of the college?

RB: It was at the college. It was funded by the state but it was at the college. We had received a grant; it was called "Turning Point." Then I did teaching for 4-5 years, then we moved here. Then the first thing I did was to contact NOW (National Organization for Women). And I went to a production they were doing; they were into theater for women, along with doing activism for women. The production was called "Belong to the Tune: Feminist Really Do Have a Sense of Humor." I thought--this is my group! Then I became the coordinator eventually and we had meetings and would educated ourselves on issues and do activist projects--demonstrated and all that. We decided that it was a true woman's issue, because the women had gone on trial and done a lot of the work on the movement and they just weren't interested-so we decided we would concentrate on our theater work. We did a lot of plays; we did reader's theater on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and we just had a great time. It was an exciting time. And everyone decided we had to get serious and get full-time jobs. And so I got a job with AWEE, which is Arizona Women's Education and Employment and that's where a lot of women on welfare really struggle. I really enjoyed that work--helping women make some progress and overcoming big problems. I became a coordinator of that program. Then that funding ended, and I went to work for Parents' Anonymous for child abuse prevention. I was hired as a program director. I helped supervise and develop that program. That was very rewarding work too, helping families. At the same time I taught part-time at Ottawa University. I taught women's studies, women's literature. From there I became involved in the sanctuary movement.

Narrator: Nancy Sheridan
Interviewer: Amanda Butler

AB: What kind of jobs have you held?

NS: Paying jobs are we talking about? In 1962 my second son was born and my husband was taking his residency, so we moved to Vermont for him to take his pathology residency. Believe it or not it was going to take more money for me to get my license to teach. I'd have to go back to college because they required Vermont history and some other things like it to get my teaching certificate. We calculated that it out and decided it was better for me to stay home. For many years I was a stay home mom but I was always volunteering. Then a neighbor friend and I opened an interior décor company in Mesa and I did that for a couple of years but, that was not exciting for me. Then years later I helped some friends manage an Indian Diamond and Gold store. They were like family and they needed someone to help. It was at this time that I got a divorce after 28 years! I had to get serious about doing something so I applied with the Save the Family Foundation and I became their executive director. I did that until I retired.

Interviewer: Meredith Miller
Narrator: Linda B. Rosenthal

MM: What did you get your degree in?
LBM: I got a degree in elementary education and then a master's degree in history. I wanted to teach and did teach in Junior High school
level in New York on Long Island. I taught social studies to 7th and 8th graders but I am basically a news and political junkie. Have been
forever. Those were my interests and women of my generation could not learn math or science. I was told I couldn't, so I didn't. That simple. A
kid is told they can't do something, so they don't, but I could learn and did learn history, political science and I loved that. I am very, very, much interested in those fields.

Narrator: Cindy Barnes Pharr
Interviewer: Trevor Frost

TF: What kind of jobs have you held?
CBP: My jobs have all been community relations jobs so I've always worked in the community in the East Valley either running Girl Scouts or being a youth sports coordinator at the Chandler YMCA. For a few years I was a photography manager or sales rep for all the youth sports leagues in the state of Arizona. The job was called PMI sports. Then I spent five years working at Arizona State University as the alumni director at the business school where I was a fundraiser, I threw events, was a part of homecoming and raised a ton of money for scholarships. My last three years I've spent as a senior community relations manager with quest communications where I manage their giving as part of the Qwest Foundation. I manage the employee involvement resource groups. I manage the United Way campaign, and I run other special events throughout our fourteen states that we serve.

Narrator: Kathy McAvoy
Interviewer: John Flores

J.F What kind of different jobs did you hold over the years?
K: First of all, I have never worked full time. I've had a huge variety of jobs, particularly through my bachelor's degree in order to help fund myself and pay for things. So, I worked all through the entire six years it took me to get my bachelor's degree. It took me longer with all of those school transfers. Some of those jobs were interesting and some of those jobs were just jobs. After I finished the Master's degree I had married my high school sweetheart. He was the one who encouraged me, and he was also studying (or he already had his Master's degree) and he took a post graduate assistantship at the University of Sidney--in Sidney, Australia. So, we went over there. I think it was a matter of two weeks after I had concluded my Masters degree; I didn't even get to go to the graduation ceremony and get hooded because I left for Australia.

So, I was in Australia, fresh out of a Master's degree program, and having the most amazing illusions about myself and about life and about how life worked. I really believed that it would not matter that I was a foreigner, and it would not matter that I was a woman, and that I could get a degree. And I kid you not, I applied for 75 jobs during the year that I lived there, actually a little short of a year, it was more like 9 or 10 months that I lived in Sidney and I applied for any and every kind of job that was remotely possible. I even had a second interview with what would be the equivalent of the EEOC or it was an organization in Australia that would over see union activity. So, it would be some kind of governmental organization. And I had a second interview with them, however, being a foreigner over there and being a woman, quite honestly, there was no way and I can not believe, to this day, how diluted I was. When you're young the world is your oyster. You just don't quite see things the same way.

But any how, I ended up working at a sandwich take-away shop 10 hours a week. That's it….just at lunch time two hours a day. I worked from 11am to 1pm at the lunch time hour when they had a rush and the owner became a friend of mine and I only got the job because it was around the corner from the flat I was living in and I walked passed and saw a help wanted sign. And they paid me under the table. I think I had a part-time temporary work visa because I was the spouse of an American who was employed by the University. But anyway, they paid me under the table and I spent the rest of the time, literally, exploring Sydney, Australia by foot, on train, with buses. I did not own a car there and I did not own a TV. It was really different and since it was in the winter….I went there in September and the seasons are reversed so most of my time that I was there was summer and I spent a lot of time at the beach. But I think that I could look back and say, honestly, that I had a year off. I worked at a sandwich take-away and laid on the beach and that was it.

But it was very disheartening at the time because I saw myself as being a career woman and I thought that I was going to go into politics or maybe get a law degree. At that point I had all kinds of grand dreams and plans. And there was nothing. It was as flat as Cleveland, Ohio.

Narrator: Mary Lou Timma
Interviewer: Kandi Kastl-Manuel

KKM: What kind of jobs have you held?

MT: I went right into the Detroit police department until Joe, my first son, was born; I worked in between my pregnancies. I have it all in my resume. I was a policewoman for the Detroit Police Department during the period of 1948-51. I was assigned to all cases involving juvenile boys up to 11 years old and girls up to the age of 18. I was also assigned the same age range for all missing children. I investigated cases such as runaways, neglect, and also counseled parents. In addition to this I was required to patrol making sure there were not any violations involving improper licensing of dance halls, bars and curfew. I was also a Caseworker during the period of 1959-60 where I conducted marital counseling. During the period of 1961-65, I counseled boys and girls and provided counseling to parents.

I also supervised adoptive homes after selection was approved in addition to supervision of foster parents and children. In 1964-65 I held the position of intake for unmarried mothers. I was responsible for the initial interview with the unmarried mother, parent, if she was a juvenile and made referrals to other agencies or placement was within our own facilities in our organization. Then a follow-up interview was done after postnatal. The counseling jobs were within the Catholic Social Services organization. I was a probation officer with the Wayne County Recorders Court from 1965-66. My responsibilities were to do intakes of referrals received, to provide counseling to men regarding support for their wives and children, also to advise mothers on their responsibilities to their children. Follow up was made to families if it was necessary. I worked with Garden City Public School from the period of 1970-74; for one year I worked with the first grade and three years with the reading Readiness Program. I worked with children who were not ready to be placed in a regular first grade classroom setting. The reasons could be for academic or emotional reasons.

Photos courtesy of the families.

Back to Community History Home

Pam Petty

Nancy Sheridan

Linda B. Rosenthal

Cindy Barnes Pharr