AAUW 90th Anniversary Address


WE have been blessed with many strong gender-role leaders role modeling a better way within the Dearborn community. Dearborn women have always tried to make our community a better place to live, work and learn. Honoring them at this 90th Celebration gives me great pleasure to share their names. All of these HEROS are mentioned in our archives 

Founding members of our branch who saw the need to support women and girls took a giant step when they formed OUR branch. Those founding members included Annie Bice, Elizabeth Claucherty, Dorothy Guimoreas, Sophia Hayes, Marjorie Jahr, Julia Lamarca, Alice Lewis, Esther Lindberg, Lillian Harris, and Elsie Bowden. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to them for their prescient wisdom. 

Iris Becker    A member in the 1936 Directory –  was a tireless advocate for education for 43 years, particularly for the homeowners and families in the South End of Dearborn. She knew the way up-and-out was through education. She fought tirelessly for strong, public schools that taught clear communication, logic and critical thinking skills. She fought ceaselessly for her fellow colleagues when teachers were expected to exemplify the meaning of having a vocation while accepting being compensated with what were laughably low wages and minimal benefits under less-than-ideal working conditions.
Her values supporting history and aesthetics made her a natural to help starta new community organization, the Dearborn Community Arts Council.

 Kay Cushman – a Branch member of AAUW- Dearborn and President of the League of Women Voters–Dearborn/DearbornHeights from 1971-1974. Cushman, a lifelong resident of Dearborn, graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1933 at Dearborn High School, the same year the American Association of University Women-Dearborn was founded!
Cushman was one of the “Con-Con Eleven,” having been elected to represent the city of Dearborn. Of the 144 delegates at the 1962-1963 Michigan Constitutional Convention, only 11 were women. At the first constitutional convention in 53 years,women participated for the first time in the writing of Michigan’s constitution. Michigan’s Constitution had been amended 70 times before that. 

Polly Howededicated to Equity for Women and Girls. She worked as an educator employed by the Dearborn Public Schools for thirty-nine years, primarily at Henry Ford Community College. She was a proud and vocal member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1650, a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women Metro Detroit Chapter, and founding member of the Pay Equity Network of Michigan. She created the Michigan Pay Equity Network, an organization that has worked for over 30 years to eliminate sex and race-based wage discrimination. Her efforts on behalf of equity proved how much one individual can do, against major odds, to move a mission forward. 

Marge Powell –  exemplified leadership and became Dearborn’s most prominent gender role model. “The Marge Powell Leadership Award was established in 2011, and continues to this day, to award seniors in our three public high schools. Our reward is a bit unusual in that no students need apply. Instead we depend upon counselors and principals to identify and designate students who have exemplified outstanding leadership and integrity during their high-school careers. 

 Barbara Brandenburg has belonged to our branch for 60 years now and has served in many roles. As such she is a living witness to two thirds of our history! From 1959 to 1961, she served as OUR branch president. She was named Educational Foundation Honoree for 1967/68. She has participated in and chaired numerous Study-and-Interest groups such as Evening Epicureans and Global Studies. Her help in organizing the 75th Anniversary Celebration was invaluable. 

Fadwa Hammoud  – as Solicitor General for the State of Michigan,  she safeguards our rights. We are proud indeed that she is a member of this affiliate.  She inspires and reassures us as she fights for truth, justice and the American way. Taking into consideration all of the following term’s connotations, I can declare with absolute honesty that Fadwa is a SUPER WOMAN! Fadwa emigrated to the United States from Lebanon at age eleven. After graduating from Fordson High School and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, she attended Wayne State University Law School where she received a Juris Doctor (J.D.). She clerked for United States District Judge George Steeh. After that, she served as an assistant prosecuting attorney to Kim Worthy for Wayne County. She is the first Arab-American Solicitor General in the United States. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed her in 2019 and put her in charge of the Flint Water Crisis investigations. Soon thereafter she tried her first case at the United States Supreme Court and won.