Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge
A focal point of The Principal Riverwalk, this iconic bridge spans the Des Moines River, linking the east and west sides of the city at the northern edge of the riverwalk loop. The bridge features two separate pathways — one for walkers/joggers and one for bicyclists.
Each year, local citizens nominate notable women from Iowa's history for recognition on the bridge. A committee reviews the nominations and selects several to honor. Selections include women who have made a positive impact on the lives of others, achieved extraordinary accomplishments, inspired future generations and who have been agents of change for the betterment of the state of Iowa, our nation or the world.
In October 2013 the first four Iowa Women of Achievement honorees were announced. They are:
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.
Catt had a lasting impact in leading the successful campaign for ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote in 1920. She founded the non-partisan League of Women Voters in February 1920, established and served as president of the Women's Peace Party with Jane Addams and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1926.
Inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975 and into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1982, Catt's legacy lives on in The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University.
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.
Noun’s passion for the arts included serving 19 years as a board member of the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts and the Des Moines Art Center Association. She worked in various capacities at the Des Moines Art Center, and her substantial giving to museums and colleges from her collection of female-created art evidenced her lifelong investment in the arts.
Sr. 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.
She was a recognized leader in the fields of zoology and botany and was one of the first women listed in the American Men of Science directory of leading scientists in the U.S. and Canada. Her legacy as Executive Secretary of the North Central American Friends Service Committee lives on in her work with the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota; shutting down the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Denver, CO; and influencing President Reagan to negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia in 1984.
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 currently has over 35,000 members.
Durden Rush served in numerous leadership roles in the Des Moines area and was a founding member of the Iowa NAACP and founded the Charity League and Protection Home. The League established a home where working women could lease inexpensive rooms.
She also secured the appointment of a black probation officer to the juvenile court and a black caseworker to Associated Charities in Des Moines.
Nominations for Iowa Women of Achievement
Watch this site for instructions on how you can nominate an Iowa Woman of Achievement for consideration in 2014.