Geraldine Ferraro (August 26, 1935 – March 26, 2011), the first female vice presidential candidate for any major American political party is this week’s #RespectYourElders feature.
Vide presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro with presidential candidate Walter Mondale.
Born and raised in New York City, Ferraro was working as a schoolteacher when she decided to become an attorney. Ferraro graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 1960 as one of only two women in a class of 179. After many years working as a lawyer and then the District Attorney for Queens County, New York, she became a representative in the US House of Representatives for New York’s 9th Congressional District. During her time in the House, Ferraro became well-respected for her toughness and ambition, leading to her selection as a vice presidential candidate by 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale. Though they lost the campaign, Ferraro continued to work in politics, and later became a political commentator and a consultant helping corporations develop more female leaders and female-friendly workplaces.
Ferraro remained active into older age, despite battling multiple myeloma for the last twelve years of her life. During this time, in addition to her political and consulting work, she convinced Congress to pass the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act and worked to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Ferraro is remembered today as a trailblazer who broke barriers for women and fought ethnic stereotyping.
Photo by Warren K. Leffler (United States Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.