The National Organization for Women (NOW) elected new national officers during its weekend conference in Philadelphia. Kim A. Gandy, NOW’s executive vice president, was voted the first new president in a decade. The very diverse team elected with Gandy includes NOW veterans Karen Johnson, Olga Vives and Terry O’Neil who won the offices of Executive Vice President, National Action Vice President and Vice President Membership, respectively.
Gandy, 47, has been a NOW activist for 28 years. The first member of her Louisiana family to attend college, Gandy was motivated to join NOW shortly after her graduation when she encountered severe sex discrimination in the workplace and in her state’s marriage laws. Gandy started as a chapter task force chair in 1973, moved to the State Board Delegate, State Treasurer, and then served three terms as State President. Gandy worked her way through law school in this period, during which she also began 11 NOW chapters and campaigned for the ERA. As a lawyer, activist and mother of two daughters, Gandy now says her immediate concern is to prevent a Supreme Court appointment that could lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. First on her agenda is to “[send] George Bush to Texas.”
VP Membership Karen Johnson was elected Executive Vice President, the first African American to hold this position, after 18 years as a NOW activist. The eldest of five children raised in Jersey City, NJ, Johnson joined NOW in 1975 after being one of only 14 women stationed with 3,000 men on an Air Force base in Thailand. She entered nursing school at age 17 and began a nursing career that spanned 25 years. A retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force, Johnson also earned a bachelor’s degree from Loretta Heights College and a master’s degree from Yale University. She has worked as a community activist across the country, fulfilling several NOW positions at the chapter, state, regional and national levels.
Newly elected National Action Vice President Olga Vives joined NOW in 1982 during the drive to ratify the ERA. Vives, a businesswoman, has served in volunteer NOW positions as both the National Board Member and Great Lakes Regional Director, and was also a Chair of the National Lesbian Rights Committee. Drawing on her background as an immigrant, mother, lesbian and Latina, Vives focuses her NOW activism on the diversification of the organization and the empowerment of women of color.
Terry O’Neill, a Louisiana native and NOW member since 1994, was elected VP Membership. She has also served as a National Board Member, President of the New Orleans chapter, and President of Louisiana NOW. O’Neill joined the New Orleans chapter while an associate law professor at Tulane University. A mother and grassroots activist, she specializes in Feminist Legal Theory and International Women’s Rights.