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Hall of Fame » Molly Murphy MacGregor (education)

Molly Murphy MacGregor (education)

Molly Murphy MacGregor
Executive Director - National Women's History Project
Verdugo Hills High School Class of Summer 1964

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Every year in March, the United States celebrates National Women's History Month in recognition of the contributions and accomplishments of women throughout the period of our nation's existence.

This national designation and celebration is the direct result of the tireless efforts of Molly MacGregor, a 1964 alumna of Verdugo Hills High School and co-founder of the National Women's History Project (NWHP).

Molly and the NWHP spearheaded a drive for a nationally recognized history week and, as a result, in 1981 Congress declared the first National Women's History Week. In 1987, the history week became National Women's History Month.

Molly was one of several generations of MacGregor children to attend Verdugo over the years. Voted "Most Pep and Spirit" by her fellow classmates, Molly was editor of the school newspaper, the La Yuca, as well as being on the Drill Team.

After graduating from Verdugo, Molly became the first of nine children in her immediate family to graduate from college. She went on to a teaching career and, in 1972, taught one of the first classes on women's history at the high school level.

In order to expand her knowledge of women's history, Molly completed graduate studies in history at Sonoma State University and became active in the Women's Studies Board there. She went on to teach courses in women's studies and history at Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College.

During that time, Molly joined the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women where she originated the plan for the first Women's History Week in Sonoma County in 1978. The goal of the observance was to have schools and communities recognize the contributions that women of all cultural backgrounds have made to society and history.

In 1979, Molly became the director of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women and took the plan for Women's History Week to Sarah Lawrence College where the Women's History Institute for leaders of national women's organizations was being held that year. There, Molly met Pam Elam, who became one of the prime movers in getting Congress and governors nationwide to eventually declare a National Women's History Week.

Molly co-founded the National Women's History Project — a nonprofit educational institution — in 1980 and became its executive director, a post she still holds today. In that capacity, she works with leaders of national women's organizations to encourage them to celebrate their own histories as well as to build coalitions to develop programs and events that celebrate the vast array of women's lives.

She also works with curriculum and equity specialists in school districts throughout the country to train teachers in ways to integrate a multicultural women's history perspective into the school curriculum. Molly has authored several curriculum units and co-developed video productions to encourage the easy integration of multicultural women's history into all areas of the school curriculum.

Under her leadership, the NWHP has been recognized by the National Education Association with its prestigious Mary Hatwood Futrell Award for outstanding contributions to women's and girls' education, the National Association for Multicultural Education, and the Center for Women Policy Studies.

Molly has also been honored by the American Education Research Association with its Women Educators' Curriculum Award, by the Giraffe Foundation for "sticking her neck out," by the Sonoma County NAACP as a Woman of the Year, by the California Commission on the Status of Women as one of California's Twelve Outstanding Women of 1987, by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey for contributions in shaping women's political and social landscapes, and by Sonoma State University as a Distinguished Alumna.