The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage, and was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest.
The legendary crusade for women's suffrage began in 1848 at a historic meeting in Seneca Falls, New York. Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Activists began raising public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. The lengthy battle culminated in 1920 when the country ratified the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the Experience Cortland staff will be releasing a blog series celebrating the achievements of Cortland County women throughout history. From an Army general to a women's rights advocate, to a charity executive and Television's first Better Crocker, "Iconic Cortland County Women: Celebrating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment" will showcase the area's rich women's history.
Catherine Bertini, an American public servant and ninth Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), has made incredible humanitarian efforts that have helped millions of lives.
Bertini was born in Syracuse, NY, but grew up in Cortland where her father served as chairman of the Cortland County Republican Committee and three terms as city councilman. Though her initial aspirations revolved around music, she eventually followed in her father's political footsteps, and pursued a bachelor's degree in political science at The State University of Albany. While studying at UAlbany, Bertini began to build her experience in politics by becoming president of College Republicans and worked as a legislative aid to Republican New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller. This experience become a congressional campaign manager for George Wortley, and run for congress herself in 1982.
After graduating from UAlbany and a brief stint in the private sector, Bertini’s career showed no signs of letting up as she would become Executive Director of the World Food Program for the United Nations in 1992, recommended by President George H.W Bush. Through Bertini’s efforts, she made the World Food Program “the most responsive humanitarian organizations”. When areas such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and parts of the Soviet Union were affected by war or natural disaster, Bertini would send food aid. Bertini also made great strides in averting starvation in North Korea, Afghanistan and Africa. Not only did she save lives, but she also used her platform to help poor women throughout the world.
Bertini’s efforts in saving millions of lives throughout the world is extremely remarkable. Her humanitarian efforts earned her the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture in 2003, and The London Times dubbed her one of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” during her time at the United Nations.
Now a resident of Homer, NY Bertini was selected into the inaugural class for the Cortland County Hall of Fame in 2016 for her long and distinguished career in public service.
Check back next week for the fourth blog of the series. I will be highlighting Homer native, Linda A. Mason who is known for her Humanitarian work.
1. Cannerelli, Stephen D. "Catherine Bertini poses in her working women room at her home in Cortland." Syracuse.com. Charles Ellis. The Post-Standard, 3 Oct 2012. Viewed 13 July 2020. https://www.syracuse.com/news/2012/10/magazine_su_professor_appointe.html.
2. “Catherine Bertini, '71.” University at Albany - UAlbany Alumni - Catherine Bertini, '71, www.albany.edu/news/profile_bertini.php. Viewed 8 July 2020.
3. Kirsten Haack, ‘Bertini, Catherine Ann’ in IO BIO, Biographical Dictionary of Secretaries-General of International Organizations, Edited by Bob Reinalda, Kent J. Kille and Jaci Eisenberg, www.ru.nl/fm/iobio. Accessed 13 July 2020.
4. McAdam, Todd. "From hunger to world-changing executives, Bertini keeps playing." Cortland Standard. 9 Sept 2019. Viewed 13 July 2020. https://cortlandstandard.net/2019/09/09/from-hunger-to-world-changing-executives-bertini-keeps-playing/.
5. Wikipedia contributors. "Catherine Bertini." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Dec. 2019. Web. 8 Jul. 2020.
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