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  • Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia

Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

"The Most Influential Woman in My Life"

by Talia Weisberg

On February 21, 2013, the Women’s Herstory Initiative, Words of Women, International Women’s  Day, based in Dallas, TX, announced that the essay of seventeen-year-old Talia Weisberg about Sonia on the subject “The Most Influential Woman in My Life” won the Words of Women Essay contest. The essay follows.

 

"I always understood the importance of mentorship as it relates to women’s advancement in professional fields. I’ve read numerous articles about the positive effects of a mentor and how important such a figure is in a young person’s life and career. However, I never grasped the true meaning of a mentor and how he or she can influence your life. Then I met my mentor, Sonia Pressman Fuentes.

"The more I hear about Sonia’s past, the more I am amazed by her strength. As a child, she fled Nazi Germany with her parents and older brother. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University in 1950, when quotas against women and Jews were widespread. Sonia went on to have an illustrious career as a lawyer, working for several federal government agencies and two major corporations. She drafted the Guidelines on Pregnancy and Childbirth for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as writing some of the lead decisions. She was also the highest paid woman at the corporate headquarters of the GTE Service Corporation and TRW Inc.

"I met her because she cofounded the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest women’s rights association in the United States. I was writing a paper about the history of NOW for the 2011 National History Day competition, and reached out to Sonia online for more information about NOW’s history. When she agreed to an interview I felt so privileged to be able to speak to someone who had such a profound impact on the women’s rights movement.

"After the interview, Sonia and I stayed in correspondence. I was still in awe that a distinguished women’s rights activist like Sonia was emailing a rookie high school feminist like me. As the weeks and months passed, the two of us began to forge a relationship. Soon enough, Sonia became my mentor. I feel so fortunate to have a woman like Sonia in my life. We discuss feminist issues at length, have partnered up to make a petition, and really established a strong intergenerational bond.

"Sonia’s tireless work for gender equality has truly influenced my life. As a NOW cofounder, she got me involved in the organization’s Young Feminist Task Force (YFTF). After working in the YFTF for over a year, I am seriously hoping to pursue a job at NOW once I’m done with school. Sonia has dedicated her entire life to the social betterment of the world, and I really hope that I will be able to further her work."