Past Honorees

Women Who Led

Paving the way for Iowa and the nation

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
An Iowa State alumna, Catt earned her degree in three years as the only woman in her graduating class of 1880. Catt is recognized as one of the major leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony handpicked Catt as her successor to lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Louise Rosenfield Noun (1908-2002)
Noun was a philanthropist, civil rights activist and patron of the arts whose dedication to the underprivileged - especially children - resulted in founding the Des Moines Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Young Women’s Resource Center, the Chrysalis Foundation and the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus. Noun also raised funds to establish the Bernie Lorenz Recovery House for Women.

Sister Bernadine Pieper, CHM (1918-2000)
A quintessential Iowa woman, Pieper was also a nationally-renowned scientist and educator. She devoted her life to disenfranchised, low income and often marginalized people. In 1938, Pieper entered the Convent of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary. She served in numerous educational roles throughout her life, including her 25-year career at Marycrest College.

Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush (1880-1962)
An Iowa woman pioneer, Durden Rush was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of Iowa after passing the state bar in 1918. After being denied membership in the American Bar Association because of her race, she and four others founded the Negro Bar Association in 1925. It later became known as the National Bar Association and has over 35,000 members. Durden Rush serviced in numerous leadership roles in the Des Moines area and was a founding member of the Iowa NAACP.