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$25,000 Winner of the
GH Award for Women in Government

Restoring schools of hope

Leslye Arsht

Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Education

   When Leslye Arsht arrived in Iraq in July 2003, most classrooms throughout the war-torn country were littered with rubble and shattered glass. Few schools had electricity or working toilets. Textbooks were filled with propaganda, including numerous pictures of Saddam Hussein. "It was a mess," says Arsht. And it was her job to help clean it up. An expert on education reform, Arsht had been handpicked by the U.S. Department of Defense to help Iraqis rebuild their school system. It was a formidable challenge, but, says Arsht, "I felt like I had prepared my whole life to do something like this."
She faced considerable risk to complete her assignment: One afternoon, a bomb exploded in a hotel restaurant just five minutes after she'd left. Arsht became part of a team that canvased local teachers to see what, if anything, could be salvaged from the existing school system.
   Then she helped develop a training program for 32,000 secondary school teachers and 3,000 supervisors and managed the repairs of nearly 2,500 dilapidated school buildings. After 40 weeks of hard work by Arsht and her colleagues, the Iraqi Ministry of Education took control of the schools, three months ahead of schedule.
Every step was arduous. Simple tasks like setting up a meeting took days because there was no reliable phone or mail service. To stay safe, Arsht took indirect routes from her quarters in Baghdad to schools in outlying areas. Sometimes she traveled by Black Hawk helicopter.
   Her work has attracted praise from top officials, including former President George H. W. Bush, who knew Arsht from her days in the Department of Education during his administration. Her willingness to put herself in harm's way "in order to touch the lives of others is one example of her lifelong commitment to making ours a better world," Mr. Bush says.
   Back home in Arlington, Virginia, Arsht is working with a support center for severely injured service members and their families. She is bringing to this task the same conviction that she demonstrated in Baghdad. "We need to really care about both our soldiers and the children in Iraq," she says, "because they both need to reestablish their lives."

$25,000 Winner of the
GH/Wyeth Award for Women's Health

Fighting for women's lives

The 69 members of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues
Current Co-Chairs: Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) and Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-CA)

   Can you imagine a woman being fired for taking time off after having a baby? Or women's health getting the cold shoulder in federally funded research? Sadly, that's the way it was not so long ago. But now much has changed, thanks to a handful of pioneering congresswomen. In 1977, they put aside partisan differences to form the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues (CCWI). Since then, the group has pushed through dozens of landmark bills, with amazing results.
   Because of CCWI, maternity leave is now mandatory at large companies, federal dollars earmarked for breast cancer research have increased more than tenfold, and studies on female reproductive health and prenatal care have led to real breakthroughs. What's more, because of the group's efforts, mammographies must now meet strict federal standards. The caucus fought successfully – and continues to fight – to include women in government-sponsored research on heart disease, an illness once associated primarily with men, and on diabetes.
   The group has always had a Democratic and a Republican cochair, and members have never hesitated to cross the aisle to drum up support. Plus, the caucus steers clear of issues like abortion. "We chose to focus on what united us, not divided us," says former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, the first Democratic co-chair.
   On the current agenda: securing funding for research on diseases, like Alzheimer's and osteoporosis, that affect older women. "Women are living longer," says Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, the current Republican co-chair, "so we need to stay on top of these issues." Adds Rep. Hilda L. Solis, the Democratic co-chair, "The more we work on research, prevention, and education, the more lives we can save."

$2,500 Winners

Righting a wrong
Viola Baskerville

Delegate, Virginia General Assembly
Rather than integrate its schools – as the Supreme Court ordered in a 1954 decision – the state of Virginia closed some of them. Baskerville sponsored legislation to create state-funded scholarships for former students who were locked out.

Teaching financial smarts
Dolores Briones

County Judge, Texas
She set up 31 tax preparation centers that offer free assistance to low-income residents. Counselors encourage these taxpayers to file for the little-known earned income credit, which last year resulted in refunds totaling about $4.3 million.

Reforming prisons
Jackie Crawford

Director, Nevada Department of Corrections
As the first female director of the state's 19 prisons, Crawford created rehab programs and helped reduce violence at the toughest facilities. Recidivism rates have dropped 20 percent since she took over five years ago.

Protecting the environment
Karen Oden

Installation Restoration Program Manager, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
An environmental engineer, Oden used unique methods to clean up fuel spills and contaminants on the base. Her cutting-edge techniques are now employed at other military facilities.

Sticking up for families
Loretta Weinberg

Assemblywoman, New Jersey State Legislature
One of the few female legislators in New Jersey, Weinberg is a strong voice for family issues. Since 1992, she's fought to pass a childproof-handgun law and legislation calling for $20 million in funding for autism research. 

  The Tillie Fowler Award
This special prize – for an outstanding military-related achievement – is given in memory of Tillie Fowler, a former Florida congresswoman and three-time co-chair of the selection committee for the GH Award for Women in Government. Fowler died earlier this year.

Helping neglected vets
Frances M. Murphy, M.D., M.P.H.

Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Health Policy Coordination, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
Dr. Murphy focuses on the much overlooked area of mental-health care for veterans. She identified shortcomings in the system and has come up with innovative ways to improve and expand treatment.

2004 Winners
$25,000 Winner of the GH Award for Women in Government
On the wings of courage
Captain Christina Hopper
Fighter pilot, United States Air Force
Cannon Air Force Base
Clovis, NM
  Piloting an F-16 fighter jet one stormy night early in the Iraq war, Capt. Christina Hopper faced treacherous conditions: Pelting rain and blowing sand obscured her vision as she was fired at with surface-to-air missiles. When lightning struck the F-16, destroying its threat warning system—which alerts the pilot if his or her jet is targeted by radar-guided antiaircraft fire — Captain Hopper could have turned back. But she decided to complete her mission: to destroy a Republican Guard supply line. “I did not want to bring my bombs home,” she says.
For her bravery that night, Captain Hopper earned an Air Medal, one of the military’s highest honors. And for her tour of duty in Iraq, she has been rewarded with a place in history—as the first African-American woman ever to fly a fighter jet in a combat mission of a major war.
Many Air Force cadets have visions of being a fighter pilot; however, few have the intelligence and aviation skills necessary. But Hopper had strong military bloodlines—her father is retired from the Air Force; her mother and her brothers are on active duty. And she had the support of her University of Texas ROTC commander, who encouraged her to become a pilot when she graduated in 1998.
Training was grueling. But Hopper got through it, easily winning the respect of her peers and superiors. (Though as Capt. Lory Manning, a retired Navy officer who directs the Women in the Military Project, points out, “It must have been harder for her, being both African American and female, to become one of the gang—but she clearly has the right mix of modesty and guts.”) Says Col. Jeff Stambaugh, 27th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, “She’s an all-around exceptional individual.”
Captain Hopper was deployed to Kuwait in December 2002 to monitor no-fly zones, but her stay was extended when the Iraq war began. For the next few months, she flew three missions per day. A devout Christian, she says her faith kept her strong: “I trusted that God would protect me.”
She returned to Cannon Air Force Base in May 2003 and was greeted on the runway by her husband, Aaron, a fellow fighter pilot. “People keep thanking me for going to Iraq,” she says. “For me, it was a privilege.”

$25,000 Winner of the GH/Wyeth Award for Women's Health
Midwife on a mission
Jill Alliman
Center Director
Women’s Wellness & Maternity Center Madisonville, TN
   Just over 20 years ago, pregnant women in rural Monroe County, Tennessee, had difficulty getting proper prenatal care. There were no OB-GYNs in the area, just family practice physicians who provided obstetric care, and they were overwhelmed with patients. What’s more, many of the women in this impoverished Appalachian community could scarcely afford a doctor’s visit.
All that changed with the 1983 birth of the Women’s Wellness & Maternity Center in Madisonville. This freestanding, publicly funded facility—where midwives manage low-risk births—was the first of its kind. It has been an enormous success and has significantly reduced the number of low birth weight babies born in the county. That is thanks in part to Jill Alliman, who has served the center for 18 years, first as nurse-midwife, now as director.
She’s been paged at night, on weekends, and whenever patients go into labor. She’s held the hands of more than 1,000 women during delivery. She’s even been known to hook up a speakerphone in the delivery room so a husband away in basic training could hear his baby being born. “Jill has all the qualities of the Energizer Bunny and Mother Teresa mixed into one,” says Kitty Ernst, director of the National Association of Childbearing Centers (NACC) Consulting Group.  
That tireless devotion was tested in 2003, when the center’s state funding was eliminated. Via grant writing and new profit-generating services, Alliman has been able to continue aiding poor women, offer free cancer screenings, and keep a Spanish-speaking midwife on staff.
Alliman also serves as vice president of the NACC and has helped develop four new centers in her state. But she says her favorite part of the job is still being with women in labor: “Every birth is special.” 

$2,500 Winners

Protecting patients
Nancy Achin Audesse

Executive Director, Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
Championed patients’ rights by establishing Physician Profiles, an online database that reports on doctors’ backgrounds and malpractice payments.

Advancing science
Katrina Cornish, Ph.D.
A Lead Scientist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Spearheaded the discovery of a new form of rubber (a lifesaver to those with a latex allergy) and created a way to manufacture it — both while she battled multiple sclerosis.
Investigating war crimes
Eileen Gilleece
Detective, New Jersey State Police

Spent three and a half years helping secure prosecutions for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia while on leave from her police job.
Averting teen pregnancy
Anna Ramirez, M.P.H.
Chief, California Office of Family Planning

Funded community-oriented programs, focused on educating boys as well as girls, and helped cut the state’s rate of teen pregnancy to below the national average.

Making homes affordable
Charlotte Golar Richie
Chief of Housing and Director, Department of Neighborhood Development for the City of Boston

Created 2,200 new, low-cost housing units and made 1,100 uninhabitable public housing apartments into dream homes.
Celebrating differences
Beryl E. Rothschild
Mayor, University Heights, Ohio

Instituted a citywide, biannual diversity program in which community members share ethnic, racial, and cultural experiences in panels, in discussions, and at a festival; 4,000 have attended since 1996.
Giving shelter to families
JoAnn Seghini, Ph.D.
Mayor, Midvale, Utah

Lobbied her community to welcome a homeless shelter (after other cities had rejected the idea) and fought for the development of affordable housing.

2003 Winners

$25,000 Winner GH Award for Women in Government

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
Senior Policy Analyst
Environmental Protection Agency
    Marsha Coleman-Adebayo couldn't believe what she was hearing. In 1991, she had returned to her job at the Environmental Protection Agency after maternity leave. When she questioned why a man with less experience was going to be her supervisor, her boss commented that maybe she shouldn't have taken time out to have a baby. "You're smart," she remembers him saying. "You know how to prevent pregnancy."
The words stung. Her daughter, Solasade, was far from being an accident. After having a son five years earlier, Coleman-Adebayo had a number of miscarriages before the new baby was conceived.
Such sexist comments were not unusual at the EPA in the 1990s, says Coleman-Adebayo. Neither were racial slurs. In a performance review, for example, she was told that some staff members regarded her as "uppity," she reports. "And you know what word usually follows that." Coleman-Adebayo endured the uncomfortable atmosphere, sustained by her work. A social scientist with a Ph.D. from MIT, she was studying the ways in which environmental toxins affect women's health. "I kept thinking if I worked hard enough, everything would be OK."
But hard work didn't ease the tensions. "I knew I had to do something, says Coleman-Adebayo, "for myself and for all the children who might someday have to face what I was living with."
In 1995, she filed a lawsuit against the EPA. Then it got scary. She began to receive threatening phone calls. At home, she told her children not to open the door. At work, someone walked her to her car. But in 2000, Coleman-Adebayo won a landmark case and $600,000 in damages for emotional strain caused by the discrimination.
She didn't stop there. Having seen what could happen to those who expose unfair practices at work, Coleman-Adebayo went to Congress seeking whistleblower safeguards for federal workers. It was tough ',to find legislators to support a bill - "and humiliating to talk about my experiences,'' says Coleman-Adebayo. But she persevered, and in 2002, the No FEAR Act became law.
That's a Hollywood ending for you - plus here's the real Hollywood ending: Actor, Danny Glover is now developing a movie, based on Coleman-Adebayo's experiences - and her extraordinary fight for justice.
$25,000 Winner of the GH/Wyeth Award for Women's Health
Susan H. Mather, M.D.
Chief Public Health and
Environmental Hazards Officer
Department of Veterans Affairs
   It started with - forgive the bluntness - sanitary napkins. As part of her medical training in the early 1970s,Susan H. Mather, M.D., was doing a stint at a veteran's hospital. When one of the patients got her period, Mather was told there were no pads and that she should give the woman a surgical pack instead. "This poor person was already in pain from an operation, and we couldn't do this one little thing to make her more, comfortable, Mather remembers.
But that was only one aspect of the VA's inattention to women. There were no hair dressers, for the long-term patients, only barbers. There weren't even any gynecologists on staff, though there were about one million female veterans in the system.
Flash forward three decades: In 2002, 700 babies were born as part of the VA hospital program. Female vets can get the preventive care they need, including mammograms, along with treatment for women's diseases. In addition to OB/GYNs, centers are staffed with a women's health coordinator. All of these changes, say her colleagues, come from Mather and her devotion to her patients.
But while services for women have been central to Mather's work, she's also established programs for all vets. Today, as our troops face new health challenges overseas, she is helping to design surveys to determine what combatants may be exposed to. "But I'm also concerned about our vets' psychological needs," Mather emphasizes. "These young men and women are seeing terrible things. They won't be able to just forget them." What we need to do, she says, is prepare to heal all their wounds - "emotional as well as physical." For Mather, this sounds like next challenge.

$ 2,500 Winners

Lisbeth Eddy
Police Sergeant, Seattle, Washington

Realizing that many criminals are mentally ill, Eddy developed a program to help patrol officers deal with these often-dangerous individuals. Her Crisis Intervention Team has defused many potentially violent encounters.
Helen JoAnn Fox
Mayor, Grayson, Oklahoma

Working as a volunteer, Fox is restoring this little town (population 66) and preserving its history as one of the all-black communities founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.
Jane Golden
Director, Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia

Golden has turned thousands of teen graffiti "offenders" into painters, helping them create beautiful murals across the city.

Sheila Kuehl
California State Senator

In her rookie year in the California state senate, Kuehl spearheaded the nation's first paid family leave - and funded it without asking the state or individual employers for money.
Candice S. Miller
Former Michigan Secretary of State

Facing a troubled voting system, Miller (now a U.S. Representative) knew any redesign she offered "would elicit thousands of different opinions." But she held her course, and today Michigan is a leaders in election technology.
Denise Nappier
Connecticut State Treasurer

As guardian of her state's #17 billion pension fund, Nappier has set up a system to ensure that the money she manages is invested only in companies that "are serious about their corporate responsibility to investors."
Katherine I. O'Rourke
Reearch Microbiologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

O'Rourke developed a test to detect a devastating illness in sheep (one related to mad cow disease) and found a way to breed the animals so they'd never come down with the disease.

2002 Winners

$25,000 Winner GH Award for Women in Government

Meg Falk
Department of Defense
  September 11, 2001: Meg Falk was sitting in her Pentagon office when she heard the blast. "I think it's a bomb!" she cried to, her staffers as- the building began to shake. "Get out!" Minutes later, as they made their way through the smoke-filled hallways, Falk added an instruction that is totally characteristic of tier compassion: "Call your families!"
Of course, it wasn't a bomb that struck the Department of Defense headquarters on that horrific day. It was American Airlines Flight 77, in a suicide crash that killed 184 people, injured another 141-and left hundreds of relatives desperate for information and help. That challenge fell to Falk. Although she was still in a daze herself, and she had never run a family-assistance center ("I'm a policy person," she says), Falk knew just what the department needed to do. Within 24 hours, she had set up a center at a local Sheraton hotel for victims' relatives. "We wanted to be on civilian territory, not at a military installation, so people wouldn't have the added frustration of needing to pass through long security lines to get to us," she says. There, Falk and her team offered practical support (everything from the sad task of helping to organize funeral arrangements to legal and financial assistance)-ands shoulder to cry on.
   Helping hands - and paws: Falk was awed by the number of people who showed up to work at the center"Department of Defense leaders and their spouses, the Queen of Jordan, Miss America, Lynda Carter, Lynne Cheney, and Joyce Rumsfeld, and the men and women who brought in their therapy dogs," she describes. Coordinating their services was a bit tricky, "but we simply assigned everyone a job," Falk says. "We even had an Officer-in-Charge of Kleenex."
   Her number one priority: Accurate information. "There were so many unsubstantiated reports flying around, especially in the first few days," Falk says. "We struggled to doublecheck everything before passing it on to relatives." The onscene commander, Lieutenant General John Van Alstyne, held briefings twice a day to keep families updated.
   A Special Memorial: Falk set up a table in the hotel ballroom where families could place pictures and mementos of their loved ones. She made it a point to walk by the memorial every day, "to remind myself whom we were serving."
Keeping their memory alive: Today Falk does follow-up from her Pentagon office. But she didn't want to lose the personal connection, so her office created an American Heroes board in the corridor, where each of the September 11th victims is profiled. She has brought her young grandchildren to see these memorials and she reads one herself every day, "so I'll remember that these people weren't just numbers. They were cherished members of families, of communities, and of our country.

$25,000 Co-Winners of the GH
/Wyeth Award for Women's Health

U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine
  Imagine that scientists have discovered an amazing pill that prevents heart disease. You'd like to take it-heart disease runs in your family - but there's just one hitch: Your doctor has no idea whether it will help you or not, because no one has ever tested the pill on women.
   That was the state of affairs discovered in 1990 by then Representative Olympia Snowe and Senator Barbara Mikulski. Outraged, they battled-Snowe in the House, Mikulski in the Senate - to make sure women's health received the attention it deserves. In 1993, they pushed through a law establishing the Office of Research on Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health, which ensures that women are included as subjects in federally funded medical studies.
Osteo-what? Not only were women overlooked in federal research on new drugs and treatments ("Even the lab rats were male," Mikulski quips), but female health problems like osteoporosis and breast cancer received scant attention until the new office was created.
   Odd couple "We're ready-made partners," Mikulski deadpans: "Senator Snowe is tall. I'm short. She's a Republican. I'm a Democrat." Joking aside, it's precisely the two senators' complementary personalities (Mikulski is outspoken; Snowe is more reserved) and their dedication to bipartisan efforts that have made them so successful.
What have they done for us lately? In 1990, the two spearheaded legislation to make sure uninsured women could be screened for breast and cervical cancers. But they realized that detection without funding for treatment was meaningless, even cruel. After Snowe became a senator in 1994, they sponsored legislation that would allow, the states to use Medicaid funds to pay for surgery and follow-up care. It was a hard sell, but they stayed committed and it became a law in 2000. Most recently, they've taken on insurance companies, championing a federal law that would require coverage for prescription birth control at the same level as other medications.
   Rare agreement You don't find Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott agreeing on much. When it comes to Snowe and Mikulski, however, the two men sent GH an uncharacteristically unified endorsement: "These women have made an incredible contribution to women's health."

$2,500 Winners

Dion Aroner
California state assembly member

An A+ child-care program
Concerned about the high rate of turnover among child-care workers, but realizing that the state "can't afford to pay for everything," Aroner developed a program that draws on local funds, along with state money, to finance higher salaries and further training for day-care teachers. It has since become a model for other states.

Mary Hawkins Butler
Mayor of Madison, Mississippi
A higher-profile city

When Madison (pop. 15,000) needed an economic boost, Butler set up a sister-city relationship with Solleftea, Sweden. It was a tough sell to her constituents, and initially Butler was ridiculed for her efforts, but the union has been a great success, bringing several Scandinavian businesses and a Swedish-financed office building to the tiny city.

Patricia A. Gabow
CEO and Medical Director, Denver Health and Hospital Authority
A cure for her hospital

Over the past decade, this doctor-turned-reformer has transformed the once-failing Denver General Hospital into a vibrant, financially secure institution that provides top-level medical care. Satellite facilities serve patients in a wide range of areas, from inner-city neighborhoods to mountain towns.
Renee Lewis Glover
President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlanta Housing Authority
Turning housing into homes

When Glover took on her job in 1994, Atlanta's public housing ranked among the worst in the nation. Today, thanks to her imaginative plan that draws on public dollars and private development to create mixed-use communities for middle- and lower-income families, the federal housing department gives the city highest marks.
Leticia Medina
Director, Utah State Office of Hispanic Affairs
From a gang to the government

Once a high school dropout and gang member, Medina is passionate about giving young people the second chance she was lucky enough to receive. As coordinator for the Spanish-speaking population in her state, she has created numerous education and rehabilitation programs.

Kathleen Robinette
Principal Research Anthropologist, U.S. Air Force
Getting the right fit

Robinette used 3-D body scanners to survey people and create a database of sizes. This means that, in the Air Force, everything from cockpits to goggles will now be safer and more comfortable. But it also translates into better-fitting products for civilians-from ergonomic driver's seats to bras that won't pinch or gap.


Marian B. Tasco
Majority Whip, City Council of Philadelphia
Harpooning the loan sharks

Taking on the powerful banking lobby, Tasco exposed the ugly practice of "predatory lending" - the marketing of expensive home-equity loans to lowincome families and senior citizens, many of whom ended up losing their houses. Her fight led to widespread publicity about the issue.