Working Womenʼs History Project
Connecting Today with Yesterday
Making Women's History Come Alive
Who We Are
Brigid Duffy Gerace
Child Care Committee
Founder of WWHP:
Yolanda "bobby" Hall
April 29, 1922 – June 18, 2015
Yolanda (“Bobby”) Hall founded the Working Women’s History Project in 1995 and served as its first president. She was an activist all her life. During World War II, she was the first woman to work in the tool room at Bendix Aviation Corporation, where she fought against sex discrimination and harassment and helped to organize a union. She was the president of UAW Local 330 and the first female member of the Illinois Industrial Union Council, where she fought for equal pay and child care and battled unfair management and racial discrimination. She also fought the McCarthy red scare in the courts.
Bobby later returned to school to become a nutrition expert and became assistant professor of preventive medicine at Rush University Medical Center. She was co-founder of Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, fighting for equal health care access. She retired from Rush in 1989, but continued her activism long into retirement.
Bobby remained the president of WWHP until 2003. She made sure that almost every year the organization featured a new performance piece about historical or living women. She reached out to young people by partnering with the Chicago Metro History Fair and sought to bring together diverse women by establishing a brown-bag lunch group that included women from labor, academia, and the community. Among her other accomplishments, she supported the collection of oral histories, began a book reading group, and co-edited a paper newsletter called “Working Women’s Stories” that featured articles of interest and reported activities of WWHP and its partners.
The legacy of Bobby Hall’s life-long activism continues to inspire the work of WWHP today.
Margaret has been a member of the WWHP Board since 2012. She is retired from AT&T having started her career as the first female Cable Splicer Journeywoman in the Midwest Region. She was active in her union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), as a union steward and Chairwoman of the Legislative Committee. Since retirement she has worked to promote labor history through her work with the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) and as a board member of the WWHP and the Mother Jones Heritage Project. She also volunteers as an ESL Teacher.
Brigid Duffy Gerace
Brigid is a long-standing member of WWHP, has served as Theatre Co-chair and performed in annual galas. She is a member of the Chicago Teachers;Union’s Women’s Rights Committee; Screen Actors’ Guild; Actors’ Equity Association; NOW; and Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), and received an award for her 30 years work on the Women’s Rights Committee. She appeared on “Chicago PD,” “Detroit 1-8- 7,” “Sirens,” and various films. Brigid has performed at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and Millennium Park’s Pritzker Theatre. She taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 34 years and received the Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching. She has mentored beginning teachers and performs a one-woman show on Mary Todd Lincoln and one on Mother Jones.
Katie has been a member of the Workers United Union for 43 years, where she served as shop steward, Secretary and Vice President, and president of her local. She was a single, working mother of three children. Her activism is vast and varied. She has been part of: the Policy Council of Citizen Action/Illinois; the Chicago Labor for Peace, Prosperity and Justice; the national U.S. Labor against the War (USLAW) Steering Committee; the Steering Committee of Jobs with Justice; delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor; and has been with WWHP since its inception. She has been on the boards of the Chicago Chapter of CLUW (president); the National Executive Board of CLUW; the Minority Women Issues and Affirmative Action Committee (Co-chair); and the Sergeant at arms Committee (Co-chair).
Jackie joined WWHP in 1997, attracted by its history and focus on women’s and economic issues. She served as president of WWHp from 2012 to 2019. Jackie taught in the Social Science Department of Harold Washington College (HWC) and was a member of the Women’s Studies Committee before retiring in 2004. She remains a member (retiree) of the Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and is a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the Chicago branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and of the League of Women Voters.
Amy joined Working Women’s History Project in 2011, after initiating a Chicago commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. She became secretary in 2012 and currently serves as WWHP's President. Before retiring, Amy was an administrative hearing officer for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She is a longtime activist for progressive causes. She is currently a member of the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Retirees’ Chapter; the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW); and the Chicago branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Joan McGann Morris joined WWHP in 1998 when she wrote “Union Train” about the UPS Strike and the Clerical Workers Strike organized by Vickie Starr. Subsequently, she has written plays on the Congress Hotel Strike, “We Unite Here,” and wrote a play on the pioneering women lawyers of Illinois, “From Bonnets to Law Briefcases.” Joan was an adjunct instructor at Harold Washington College for over ten years and worked as a writing tutor. Joan taught English at DeVry University for over 25 years and currently works as a Professional Writing Tutor at Oakton Community College in Skokie, Illinois. She, like her inspiration, Studs Terkel, wants to capture the stories of working men and women in their own words. Their stories are our legacy and should never be forgotten
Ken Morris was officially elected a board member and Treasurer of WWHP in 2019 by a unanimous vote, but Ken has played an integral role in WWHP since 1998. Ken is a very talented musician and songwriter, who has been entertaining people for many years. He and his wife Joan have been members of the Theater Group. Ken has acted in many of the WWHP plays, performing and arranging the songs, and has often worked behind the scenes with Audio Visual and technical needs. He has helped record and video tape many events and interviews for Working Women’s History Project, notably among them, he videotaped an extensive interview of the late Rev. Addie Wyatt which was conducted by his wife Joan and later used in Marcia Walker-McWilliams' biography of Rev. Wyatt . Ken said meeting Rev. Wyatt made him believe that if you truly cared about other people, you can find ways to really make a difference.
Helen is a founding member of the Women’s Labor History Project, the predecessor of Working Women’s History Project. She serves as a WWHP vice-president of programming and is active in the national Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). She worked in the Chicago Public Schools and represented school nurses in Chicago Teachers Union until she retired in 2011. Helen chaired the Chicago Teachers Union Women’s Rights Committee for 25 years. She currently represents retirees as a CTU delegate. She believes women in traditional roles have powerful stories to tell and wrote Working Without Uniforms: School Nursing in Chicago 1951-2001, which was published by WWHP in 2002.
Lynn Pearson is a graphic designer with more than thirty-five years experience, with her own freelance business for over 28 years. She was a founding member of the Women’s Liberation movement at Knox College in the 1960s, and is a current member of the Freelancer’s Union. She taught art and art history at the College of Lake County and was a tour guide at the Museum of Contemporary Art for six years. Lynn has a BA in fine art from Knox College and an MFA from Northwestern University in painting and art history.
Arleen joined the Child Care Committee in its inception in 2014 and worked to obtain interviews of parents and professionals in Child Care and develop the script of the documentary, Taking a Closer Look at Child Care published by WWHP. Arleen, a graduate of Erikson Institute, taught child development at Harold Washington College for twenty-five years. Because there was no acceptable text for one of the Child Development courses in the City Colleges, she created Math, Science and Technology for Teaching Young Children which still reaches students today. In addition to her love of sailing, Arleen has abiding interests in current immigration issues, equal rights for all, and high quality child care for all families.
Sue has been a lifelong activist for Women’s Rights. In high school, Sue and her classmates protested the girls’ dress code and won. She joined the Women’s Liberation Club and a committee to form a women’s studies program at Northeastern Illinois University, and worked on an anthology that the women’s studies program published in 1973. She became active in the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, and later served on the Education Fund board, chaired the economic equity issue team and currently serves as archivist. She was elected and served as the President of Illinois National Organization for Women from 2015 to 2017. She is currently the Vice President of Illinois NOW Legal and Education Fund. She joined Working Women’s History Project in 1999, served as president from 2003 to 2012, and is currently Vice President in charge of Development.
Gwendolyn has been an employee of Service Employees International Union for eight years. She was hired as a result of organizing her co-workers in the homecare industry who are predominantly women of color. Her special interest is in building a universal child care system that works for all families. Gwen works with community organizations to achieve universal child care, the fight for $15, and a union. For her work, she has traveled both locally and across the country with early childhood educators and caregivers, and with them has met with city council and state legislators to discuss the need of universal child care and what it will take to build a sustainable early learning system from birth to 5 years. Gwen joined the WWHP board in 2017.
Alma is an advocate for strong unions as a Chicago Chapter Council member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), a member of Actors’ Equity, and a member of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). She has a passion for Women’s history and has travelled as a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council, performing her one-woman show about Lucy Parsons, labor leader in the 1880s and her role in the Haymarket Tragedy. She also received the Nelson Algren Committee Award and is a trustee of the Illinois Labor History Society.
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