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Oct 13, 2008 12:22 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Judith Hope nominated to National Women's Hall of Fame

Oct 13, 2008 12:22 PM

Former East Hampton town supervisor and state Democratic leader Judith Hope was nominated to the National Women’s Hall of Fame Monday, October 6, during a luncheon in her honor at the New York Hilton hosted by the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee. Ms. Hope founded the legacy committee in 2001.

She also received the Champion of Democracy Award at the luncheon. It was presented by Harriet Cornell, chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature, on behalf of the legacy committee. In addition, Senator Hillary Clinton and Ms. Hope’s granddaughter, Soren Hope, presented Judith Hope with a copy of a letter written by Eleanor Roosevelt to a constituent in 1946.

“It was flattering and exciting,” Ms. Hope said from her East Hampton home Monday, October 13. “To tell the truth, I had no idea that anyone was thinking about nominating me for the National Women’s Hall of Fame. During the program, I was standing on the stage and Harriett had presented me with the award and she said, ‘Wait, there’s more.’ And she said she was thrilled to announce I was being nominated for the hall of fame. It was quite a thrilling moment.”

The National Women’s Hall of Fame bills itself as the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American women. A petition to name Ms. Hope was launched by Dr. Allida Black, member of the board of the Roosevelt Legacy Committee and a director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers at George Washington University. The petition was signed at the luncheon by about 1,000 people, including guests Senator Clinton and Senator Charles Schumer, Governor David A. Paterson and members of the state’s congressional delegation.

“We have witnessed her courage and stamina as she shattered the glass ceiling of New York party politics,” according to the petition. “In creating Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy and training women to run for office, she created a model that brought women to the seats of power in record numbers … In sum, Judith Hope understands power, shares power and teaches women to use power justly and effectively. She is a model for all the ages, in the tradition of Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Ms. Hope’s nomination will be reviewed by a national panel of judges made up of experts who represent many disciplines and fields of expertise. If she is voted for inclusion, she would join the 2011 class of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Ms. Hope was born and raised in Warren, Arkansas. Her father was the speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives and her mother was a reporter for the Associated Press. Ms. Hope attended Gulf Park College for Women in Gulfport, Mississippi and the University of Arkansas.

In 1973, she was elected supervisor in East Hampton, becoming the first woman town supervisor to be elected on Long Island. In 1976, she became the first woman appointments officer to a New York governor, serving in Hugh Carey’s administration for five years. In 1983 and 1985, she was again elected town supervisor.

During the administration of New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Ms. Hope served as first vice chair of the New York State Democratic Committee and as the chief fund-raiser for the state party. In 1995, she was elected chair of the committee, becoming the first woman to head a major political party in New York State. She served in that capacity for seven years.

She founded the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee as a project to encourage pro-choice Democratic women to run for state and local office. In April 2008, Ms. Hope stepped down as president, though she remains an active member of the board of directors.

She was elected to the Democratic National Committee in 1989. She is married to Thomas A. Twomey Jr., a Long Island attorney and environmental leader and active member of the East Hampton Library board.

This award and nomination is the culmination of many years of work to increase the number of women elected to office,” Ms. Hope said. “It is very rewarding to see the work recognized and continued by the legacy organization.”

The legacy committee, based in New York City, is dedicated to building a new generation of pro-choice Democratic women leaders in New York State, according to its website. (www.eleanorslegacy.org) Since its founding, the legacy committee has awarded nearly $700,000 in campaign grants to more than 700 recipients; out of which 372 women won their races.

Founded in 1969, the not-for-profit National Women’s Hall of Fame, of Seneca Falls, New York, has inducted 226 women into the Hall. Past inductees include Bella Abzug, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Willa Cather, Hillary Clinton, Emily Dickenson, Amelia Earhart, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt, Beverly Sills, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Oprah Winfrey.

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