Mars Child, Harriet McFadden, and Polly Glotzbach

Mars Child
Harriet McFadden
Women of Achievement
2003

DETERMINATION
for a woman who solved a glaring problem despite
widespread inertia, apathy or ignorance around her:

Mars Child, Harriet McFadden, and Polly Glotzbach

Never underestimate the power of women, especially when their target is something for their children. Such is the legacy of Mars Child, Harriet McFadden and Polly Glotzbach.

These three women were determined to build a place just for children, where youngsters could expand their imagination and knowledge in an atmosphere of joy. They created the Children’s Museum of Memphis, which for 13 years has enriched the lives of children and those who love them across the city and the region.

Mars Child grew up in Boston, attended Harvard, and worked for a foreign film distributor, New York’s public radio and television station, and as Mayor Ed Koch’s gubernatorial campaign press assistant. She loved the idea of the children’s museum of her childhood and, after moving to Memphis in 1984, wanted to see it translated here for her three children to enjoy.

At virtually the same time, native Memphian and Hollins College graduate Harriet McFadden read about the Boston museum in an in-flight magazine. She promptly flew north to see the museum for herself and plan one similar for Memphis. It was there that a Boston museum trustee told Harriet about Mars’s interest in the same idea and that Mars was in Memphis. Was it fate? Coincidence? Magic?

Harriet called Mars, who lived only a few blocks from her. It was the fall of 1985. They met and went to work, at first two or three times a week, balancing young children and other responsibilities, in the days before cell phones and e-mail. “We formulated a plan,” Harriet said. “We had to explain what a children’s museum was – an educational, interactive resource for children … and plan how we would sell it to people who didn’t know what one was but would possibly help us get started, like corporations and foundations.”

When they were ready to get serious about fundraising, many people told them to see Polly Glotzbach, who had just completed a term as president of the Junior League of Memphis. A Vanderbilt graduate, Polly lived within a few blocks of Mars and Harriet. She had toured the St. Louis Children’s Museum. “It came home to me,” Polly said, “how great it would be to have a children’s museum here, plus how fun it would be to be in on something in the early stages.”

In April 1987, they incorporated the Children’s Museum of Memphis. That July they hired a children’s museum consultant.

“People told me in meetings where we were trying to get money that our enthusiasm was infectious,” Harriet said. “We were determined.” Gradually their troop of believers grew, from a few women around a kitchen table to a large group of people.

Said Polly, “Initially, I felt we were pushing a rock up a hill and could stop when we wanted to but it took on such momentum we were soon racing after it.”

Ethel Niermeyer

Women of Achievement
2003

HERITAGE
for a woman whose achievements still enrich our lives:

Ethel Niermeyer

Ethel Niermeyer spent 48 years working through the YWCA to broaden opportunities for girls and women and to stimulate awareness of and action on civic affairs.

Born in Mitchell, South Dakota, in 1887, she obtained a B.A. from Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls and completed additional courses at Columbia University in New York. She started work in 1912 as a Girl Reserve Secretary in Akron, Ohio. Later she worked for the Y in Honolulu, spent four years at the YWCA in Istanbul, Turkey, and worked for the YWCA National Board.

Ethel came to Memphis in 1932 to serve as executive director, a position she held until her retirement in 1955.

During those years of racial segregation, she encouraged the development of a Negro YWCA branch, which was at first under the direction of an all-white board of directors. Under her leadership the board moved from having one African-American representative on a board to full participation in policy-making groups within the association. From racially integrated groups within the YWCA, the association became the only place in Memphis where integrated meetings of non-YWCA members could meet.

The Public Affairs Committee worked with people from other organizations to develop better state laws on adoption and to promote a hospital in Memphis where black doctors could intern. This was finally developed at E.H. Crump Hospital.

A Public Affairs Forum was established which held dinner meetings where local, national and international questions were discussed from various viewpoints and honest disagreement could be voiced without rancor.

Teen clubs were organized through the public schools and a summer camp was established in Hardy, Arkansas. Under Ethel’s directorship, a capital funds campaign was conducted to build a new central office and program building at 200 Monroe and a branch at 1044 Mississippi Blvd.

Work with girls and young women started in north Memphis in the Manassas area and the first black person was employed to work at the central office.

During World War II, the YWCA was one of four USO locations in Memphis. The YWCA oversaw activities at all four locations and remained open after the other three were closed.

An international group established by the YWCA led to the development of the International Group of Memphis and a group on equal rights for women led to the establishment of the Women’s Resource Center. Many outstanding women of Memphis received their early encouragement to become involved in civic affairs through their involvement at the YWCA, including 1987 Women of Achievement Heroism recipient Frances Coe.

Nancy Bogatin

Women of Achievement
2003

STEADFASTNESS
for a woman with a lifetime of achievement:

Nancy Bogatin

When Nancy Bogatin opened the Studio of Advertising and Art in 1956, women who worked were called “working girls.’’ Those in advertising were expected to be models, not managing partners in their own agencies. Doing the expected was not on Nancy’s “to do” list, then or ever.

For more than 50 years, as a business, civic and volunteer leader, Nancy has made changes across Memphis.

Nancy graduated from Central High School in 1943 and earned her journalism and advertising degree at University of Missouri in 1946. She worked briefly as a copywriter and program personality on WMPS radio in Memphis before big-city lights lured her to a job as promotion director, and later as sportswear buyer, for Sears, Roebuck & Co. in New York City, her hometown.

In 1952, after, she says, “visiting my mother once too often,’’ Nancy returned to Memphis to marry Irvin Bogatin. Although most wives in their circle did not work, Nancy “got a little job’’ as director of special promotions as Lowenstein’s opened for business. A year later, her first entrepreneurial venture opened, a women’s ready-to-wear specialty shop called Casuals, Memphis. She was its owner, merchandiser and operator for three years, until she and Martha ‘Ham’ Embree opened the Studio. Eventually, as Nancy says, “we had the best retail roster in town,’’ among them Seessel’s, James Davis, Haas and Catherine’s.

After 25 years, in 1981, she sold her interest in Studio of Advertising and Art and formed NEB, Inc. For a decade, she continued working as an advertising consultant for clients while also performing the same service for not-for-profit groups on a pro bono basis.

She was the first woman to hold top leadership posts in several Memphis organizations. She headed the boards at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Goals for Memphis, Memphis Literacy Council and the Friends Foundation at Brooks Museum. Nancy was also vice president of the Memphis Arts Council board.

In recent years, despite a fight against cancer, Nancy has been an increasingly important leader in key education initiatives. She is especially devoted to Partners in Public Education, which she helped found. She has served as chair and continues to advocate and bolster the organization. She was a member of Mayor William Morris’ Task Force on Education, the Memphis Youth Initiative, the president’s councils at Rhodes and Christian Brothers University, the Governor’s Education Commission for Tennessee 2000 and was co-chair of Memphis 2000 education initiative.

She also is very involved in The Grant Center, whose mission is to strengthen non-profit organizations through education and support.

Nancy Bogatin’s consistent service, leadership, energy and creativity have made Memphis a more dynamic community. Even after a lifetime of achievement, and 12 years past her “retirement,’’ she continues to work steadfastly to give all Memphians a chance at a good future through a good education.

Mariel Loaiza and Marcela Mendoza

Mariel Loaiza
Women of Achievement
2003

VISION
for a woman whose sensitivity to women’s needs
led her to tremendous achievements for women:

Mariel Loaiza and Marcela Mendoza

Though from different countries, Mariel Loaiza and Marcela Mendoza reached Memphis by similar paths, each following her husband to a new life in the United States. Mariel arrived in Houston in 1986 with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Costa Rica. While living in Houston, she worked as a journalist and received an award from the Houston Post for an article on child abuse – written in English. Her husband’s career took them to several more cities before they settled in Memphis in 1995.

Marcela came to Iowa in 1989 so her husband could attend school. While still in elementary school in Argentina, she had decided to become an anthropologist. She entered the university in Buenos Aires at age 17 and she began work on a Ph.D. when she moved to Iowa. She and her family returned to Argentina but came back the United States in 1995, to Memphis, where her husband joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee School of Medicine.

Both women initially did volunteer work, Mariel for Cablevision’s public access channel. In 1996, she started a show called Treinta Minutos con Marial (30 Minutes with Marial). The program featured community teens discussing problems such as sex and drugs. The show was an immediate hit. As a result, Mariel was recruited by the Spanish language station Radio Ambiente.

Unable to work due to visa problems, Marcela volunteered with Sacred Heart and Holy Rosary, MIFA and the Latino Memphis Conexcion. After completing her Ph.D. and establishing permanent residency, she joined the University of Memphis Anthropology Department in January 1999. Though her expertise is in the study of aboriginal peoples, in Spring 2000, the Center for Research on Women recruited her to do research on Latino immigration in the South. Her work resulted in an increased understanding of Latinos in Memphis.

In the meantime, Mariel continued playing music and hosting talk shows. Young Latinas arriving in Memphis called in with questions. “How do I enroll my child in school?” “How do I get a bank account?” They needed answers. In response, Mariel developed a proposal for a radio program for women. The station thought it over – for three or four years. So she started including little things aimed women as part of her regular shows. Phones started ringing, station management took note and in November 2001, a new program went on the air.

De Mujer A Mujer (From One Woman to Another,) was an instant success. Broadcast one hour per week, the program is a lifeline for young Latina women, many of whom speak little English. Isolated, they spend their days at home with young children and the radio for company. Each show provides 30 minutes for a special guest and then the lines are open for calls. Topics are diverse. Guests may discuss women’s health issues, crime avoidance or how to talk to children about war. Lighter topics such as latest beauty and fashion tips also have a place.

In the meantime, Marcela wanted to share the results of her research with the Latino community. She quickly realized that the radio would provide the perfect medium and made arrangements to present her information on the air.

Mariel and Marcela met through the station and forged a partnership to move their shared vision of a better life for Latina women.

Mariel decided that the one-year anniversary of De Mujer a Mujer deserved a celebration. She thought that it was time for these women to meet face to face. She took the idea to Marcela and in November 2001, they held the first event.

It was a huge success, with more than 200 women and almost as many children attending. They made new friends, found answers to questions and established lasting bonds. Most importantly, they realized that they were not alone. Obviously once was not enough so now the group meets regularly.

What motivated these two women? Mariel credits personal experience. Even though she was a professional, she felt lost when she first came to the states. Marcela’s research proves that this is the rule for most.

Their vision is to help Latinas enroll in school, learn English, connect with services that support families, make friends, be self-sufficient, and get a drivers’ license. According to Mariel, getting a drivers’ license is a master’s degree for life in Memphis!

Through working together, their vision for Latina women in Memphis is being realized.

Wanda Henson and Brenda Henson

Women of Achievement
2003

HEROISM
for a woman whose heroic spirit was tested and
shown as a model to all in Shelby County and beyond:

Wanda and Brenda Henson

Brenda and Wanda Henson set out to create a peaceful place for retreat and education in rural Mississippi. Instead, they were confronted with verbal, legal and physical harassment at their feminist education center, Camp Sister Spirit. They refused to abandon their vision of a safe place for women who faced abuse or discrimination. That vision evolved in Gulfport, Mississippi, where Brenda and Wanda met while serving as volunteer escorts at an abortion clinic. The attraction was immediate. Almost 19 years later, they remain together, sharing the same last name as a declaration of their commitment.

A few years after they met, Brenda and Wanda opened the first feminist bookstore in Mississippi. The store expanded into a crisis center, providing services for women, children, and lesbian and gay families. As that work grew, they decided to move to the country and focus on outreach.

The Hensons thought they had found the ideal place, a former pig farm in the tiny town of Ovett near Laurel, Mississippi. Their plan was to share the land with others who sought retreat in an environment that was free of violence, alcohol, illegal drugs and discrimination. Their arrival in the summer of 1993 was uneventful. Things changed a few months later after a copy of their newsletter was circulated among local residents.

The Hensons planned to hold workshops on topics including sexism, racism and homophobia. Through the newsletter, it became clear that Brenda and Wanda were lesbians and that they intended to bring more lesbians into the conservative community.

The response was quick: threatening mail and phone calls, gunfire near the property, a dead dog draped over a mail box, opposition statements made in local church pulpits and epithets toward women volunteers who were building a fence around the property. Soon the Southern Baptist Convention lent its support to a movement to buy the property and have the camp branded a public nuisance through a lawsuit. Some wondered why Brenda and Wanda didn’t just leave but the Hensons refused to respond with fear.

Their plight attracted the support of others, including then-Attorney General Janet Reno, who sent federal investigators and mediators.

Almost a decade later, the Hensons are still there. They won the public nuisance lawsuit and face no more litigation. They rarely encounter opposition.

More than 5,000 visitors have spent time at the farm, which has been converted to a conference center with meeting rooms, a 40-person dormitory and rental cabins. In the past decade, they have expanded their work in Ovett. In addition to educational events and the retreat center, they serve the local community, providing clothing, school supplies, emergency food boxes and funds for GED exams. Brenda, who didn’t complete high school, obtained her GED before obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is continuing her education. Wanda is sharing her knowledge as a Family Nurse Practitioner by working four days near Natchez, Mississippi.

Laurel Reisman

Women of Achievement
2003

COURAGE
for a woman who, facing active opposition,
backed an unpopular cause in which she deeply believed:

Laurel Reisman

The year was 1990. Laurel Reisman, a nurse with a thriving business in home health care and medical facility management, with her husband Ben, a builder and developer, accepted a foster child into their care, a 4-day-old infant named Cady. They had been foster parents previously and were in constant touch with social services as placement options were explored. Soon it became apparent that only African-American couples were being considered as prospective parents.

Politely the Reismans asked why this was protocol. Their inquiries were dismissed with “this is the way things were done.’’ Cady had a Caucasian mother and an African-American father so she was categorically labeled by the Department of Children Services as black. Only black couples would be considered.

The Reismans’ reaction was immediate. Why did the 50/50 ratio denote the child as black and why did that matter? Why did any racial mix that included African-American in any degree designate the child as black? Wouldn’t broadening the pool of prospective parents to the largest possible number be in the best interests of the child? Yet the Reismans met a solid brick wall of opposition from state officials who were ironically designated as protector of the children.

Frustrated and dismayed, they resorted to legal action. On Oct. 3, 1990, they filed suit in federal court to change the state’s policy on behalf of mixed-race children.

At the same time, something quite personal had happened – the Reismans were often quoted as saying they had simply fallen in love with Cady, now 2 months old. They were ready to pursue adoption for themselves – but they were categorically rejected by DCS because they were white.

In October 1993 U.S. Dist. Judge Robert McRae ordered the state to change its procedures to equally consider black and white families for adoption.

On Dec. 12, 1993, the Reismans filed a second federal lawsuit – this one on behalf of all children to eliminate any policy in which children would be classified. This would result in a favorable binding agreement about state policy five years later, in 1998.

With a national movement on the issue, with which the Reismans were aligned, a federal mandate was issued making the Tennessee policy national policy – states cannot use race as a factor with regard to a child or potential parents.

Cady Laurel Reisman vs. the State of Tennessee, as the case resides now in law books, made a difference. With the courage, and the physical and financial stamina to wage all-out war with the state, Laurel Reisman won new rights for prospective adoptive parents who might have been denied on the grounds of race and for babies of varying ethnic backgrounds.

Hazel Moore

Women of Achievement
2003

INITIATIVE
for a woman who seized the
opportunity to use her talents and created her own future:

Hazel Moore

Throughout Hazel Moore’s life, the need to express beauty both inside and out has guided her initiative. Remember sea-grass dolls? Well, Hazel does. From the time she was old enough to walk, she carried a soft-drink bottle with sisal attached for hair. Hazel’s hands braided, curled, parted, plaited and ponytailed anything that stood still long enough for her to do so. Long after other girls had put away their dolls, Hazel Moore was still shaping “hair life” out of every female relative in her vicinity.

Her hands found more to do. Hazel Moore’s family felt that she should become a nurse but Hazel felt otherwise. Instead she completed cosmetology college and became a licensed instructor. She had a lucrative practice at The Peabody Hotel, moved to Goldsmith’s and then on to another shop, but she wanted more. In 1973, she opened her first shop in Whitehaven. A second shop followed in 1984. Organizer of the first Tennessee Beautician’s Trade Show, Hazel has a loyal customer base. Mothers, daughters and now granddaughters come to her for the latest and best in hair fashions.

With her husband Jayne and their four daughters at the center of her life, Hazel Moore found still more work for her hands to do, this time in her community. And a grateful community has bestowed a bevy of unofficial titles including “Mayor of Whitehaven.”

She’s provided hands-on leadership in combating drugs, teen pregnancy and illiteracy. And she’s used her talents to promote community pride, encouraging citizens to participate and have fun. The Whitehaven Holiday Festival and the Community Health Fair are good examples.

A highly regarded speaker, Hazel was once asked by students after one of her talks, “Why can’t we have more things like this?” She responded, “You can!” So in 1993 she founded the Academy of Youth Empowerment. The organization works to help teens develop social skills, manage stress, and improve study habits, a Hazel Moore recipe for success.

Her hands have led to so many accomplishments and awards that a complete list would fill volumes. Some that best exemplify the handiwork of Hazel Moore include the Pioneer Memphis Business Award (1996), the American Heart Association Outstanding Volunteer Award (1998, 2001), the Black Business Association’s Benny Award (2002) and past presidency of the Friends of Whitehaven Branch Library.