THE VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT
“You don’t always win, and you have to keep coming back. A lot of what you do is not going to be glamorous.”
Interviewed by Mary Jean Collins, VFA Historian, July 2021
SP: I’m Sue Popkin, was born in California in 1961. My father was a professor at Harvey Mudd University, or College at the time. We were living in Pomona, and then he became the founding Chair of the Philosophy Department at UCSD. I’m actually a Californian. My ethnic background is my parents were Jewish and they grew up in the Bronx in New York. They were high school sweethearts.
My mother’s family were Bolsheviks from Russia who had to flee in 1905, when the Russian Revolution failed. And they were the activists of the family, from the get-go. Her aunt became one of the first social workers for HIAS, which is Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and worked at Ellis Island and was bringing immigrants across until World War I started, I think. And then she founded one of the settlement houses in New York.
One of her daughters became a true Communist believer and was the lawyer for the Rosenberg children. So that branch of the family went very activist. My mom’s branch didn’t. Her father was a businessman in the Bronx, mostly not successful, and was finally doing better in World War II when she met my father, who came from a much more successful family.
My father’s mother, Zelda Popkin, was a novelist. She was one of the first women mystery writers. She was a contemporary of Agatha Christie’s, not successful like that, but modestly successful. She and her husband, Louis, ran a small PR firm, the only Jewish PR business in the country at that time. They were able to represent Jewish celebrities like Albert Einstein.
So, they had this business and they were more affluent. And my father and my mother’s twin brother were going to the boys’ high school together in the Bronx. And my father got kicked out of the Communist Party group he was in for thinking they shouldn’t support Stalin, which I’m sure mattered a lot since they were all 16. But he decided to start his own club, and he invited my uncle and also his cute sister. And that’s my family background.
MJC: That’s amazing. That’s great family background. Thank you for going into all of that. Definitely an American story.
SP: And then he became a professor. And then it was an American story of my mother being squished. My mother was also very bright and would have gotten a PhD in English had there been any way she could have also been a professor in the University where my dad was. They ended up being – which was not unusual in the 50’s and ’60s – one career for two people, really. She was supporting his career, although she always worked. And she was unhappy, just like the Betty Friedan era.
I have an older brother and sister. My brother was born in the ’40s and my sister was born in 1950. She dragged them all over the country for my father’s job and actually to Europe a couple of times. And then they had me in 1961, by which time my dad was doing better, but he was still very restless. And we just kept moving. And eventually we moved to St. Louis, which is how I landed in Chicago. But my father was well known in his world. And he also was somewhat well known because he was a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist. One of the early ones. And he was involved with that.
So, for me, it was weird growing up. And he was a troubled man. He was bipolar, which is now the term for what he had. And my mom stuck it out, she supported him in his career. But I remember by 1972, my sister had gotten very involved with the anti-war movement. My mom had gotten involved with the anti-war movement.
My mom got involved with the McGovern campaign. And then she got involved with doing fundraisers for the Bach Mai hospital bombing. And she got to meet Jane Fonda. I think that reactivated her in a lot of ways and also set an example for me. She was a founding subscriber to Ms. Magazine. She was very excited. Interestingly, my grandmother, who had this trail blazing career, was completely hostile to the whole thing. She did it by herself. Why shouldn’t everybody else have to?
MJC: Tell me about how you got involved in the women’s movement.
SP: Well, my mom, and also my sister, was an active feminist. My sister had first gotten a Masters in French literature and was bored out of her mind. And then she went to Goddard Women’s College, which had started a women’s studies program. And then she was one of that big group of women who went to law school in the ’70s. She went to Boalt [UC Berkeley School of Law] and I thought she was so cool, ten years older than me. So that was inspiring too. And when I got to Northwestern, I was involved in the Progressive Students Coalition, which wasn’t doing women’s movement things at that point. What were we doing? Who even knew? Being upset about Reagan, I think mostly.
But I got to you at Chicago NOW, completely accidentally. I was interested. I was volunteering for political campaigns. I was always paying attention. But I finished college early. I started college early. I needed to not be living with my parents. I left home at 17, went to Northwestern. And I finished early, too. And I was looking for a job. And it was ’82, which you may remember was not a good time for a kid to be looking for a job. And the only thing I had found through Northwestern was some God-awful headhunter organization where I had to wear hose and heels and do cold calls. And I lasted a day. So, I went home and I was looking in the paper and you were advertising in the paper for organizers. I came in and applied. I knew about NOW and I thought it would be cool. My mother was slightly horrified because it wasn’t a real job. No, no, this is what I want to do, and I’m glad I did.
MJC: How wonderful. Was it what you expected?
SP: I had no idea what I expected. It was one of most fun things I ever did. I met amazing people, I met you, Mary Jean Collins, I met Sue Purrington, Toni Preckwinkle, and Peggy Madigan who must have reconnected with me through that ERA reunion group that happened a couple of years ago. And Lisa Borge, who was the other youngster.
MJC: Tell us about the work you did on the ERA.
SP: I was one of the organizers and it was very old school, no Internet, no anything else. My recollection is sitting around a big table and making phone calls all day long to people who had signed up at various rallies and other events and trying to get them to come to other rallies and other events. And also going to rallies and carrying the posters and yelling and being part of the crowd. I remember worrying a lot about all the things that were happening. It was a pretty wild ride in Illinois.
We had the people who were fasting in the capital, and the women who chained themselves to the capital doors. And we were trying to be the mainstream, sensible people. And then there was Phyllis Schlafly and her whole group. And since she was from downstate Illinois, there were many, many of them. I couldn’t believe it. My little eyes were opened to how many people and how strong they were. And I remember going down to Springfield for that big rally that we had and having to share bathrooms and things with them when they countermarched. It was eye opening to me. I think I was very naive that there were that many people in the United States who didn’t believe in what I thought was obvious. So that is when Sue Purrington would deploy us and send us various places to do things.
MJC: Did you go into any of the districts to work on campaigns?
SP: Later. After it was all over. And then I remember the night that we heard they were going to vote the next day. I don’t remember what the day was. I remember somebody calling us in the middle of the night. My husband was so tired because we’d been stuffing envelopes. We stuffed a lot of envelopes too. And he answered the phone and somebody talked to him for five minutes, and he looked at me and said, I think it’s for you, and he went back to sleep.
They told me to show up the next morning at 5:00 AM to be ready to go down to Springfield, I think. I remember being there and just how awful it felt, and how scary it was to watch them vote us down. And then that amazing speech that Carol Moseley Braun gave. It was so inspiring. A whole mix of emotions. And the exhaustion of having been working so hard. I was still young enough to think if you worked hard enough, you got what you were working for. And I found you and Ellie and everybody so inspirational, I thought, surely people will believe us. They didn’t. The governor, Jim Thompson, didn’t.
MJC: So, the ERA campaign ended with a loss, and then where did you go from there?
SP: Then we went to Washington, DC. We took a bus and we went all night to Washington DC. We went to that rally on the Capitol steps. And then I think I hung around NOW for a few months because I didn’t have anything else to do. Sue Purrington took me under her wing for a few months. And then she found me a job as an organizer for the independent voters of Illinois to work against Thompson. We were working for Adlai Stevenson, but we were working against Thompson. So, I ran a campaign office on the North Side. I did that.
And that was another crushing blow. How could we possibly lose by 500 votes? Who knows if we really did? My other memory of that election is that Lyndon LaRouche had run a couple of candidates and they had gotten on the ballot, and that might have contributed to the Democrats losing. It was very strange. So, there I went, and I found a job at Little Brothers of the Poor in Chicago, which was a not great social work job, but it had health insurance. And the program I had been in at Northwestern, my advisor called me and said we’re starting a graduate program. I can get you full funding. Would you come back? I thought, okay.
And before that happened, Norm and I got married, and Lisa came to our wedding which was in my cousin’s backyard. Very informal hippie wedding. And I started grad school in Human Development and Social Policy that fall and still stayed. I mean, I never disconnected from politics entirely. I ended up working on the Mondale campaign. Which was another blow. I always volunteer for the local Democratic Party. I don’t think I volunteered for Jane Byrne; I couldn’t do it. But I voted for her. Maybe I did, because NOW was working for her. Maybe we were doing something.
Then I volunteered for Harold Washington, so I met him. I was organizing for his campaign the same time Barack Obama was. And then eventually I just got busy with grad school, and I started down the path it took me. It is the work I still do. I thought I was going to be a gerontologist. And that’s why I started in graduate school and I got to graduate school. What did I know? At that point in American history, we had a social compact that we were going to take care of the older and disabled Americans.
And the poverty rate for older Americans was about 6%. We had pretty much taken care of it. And it seemed boring at that point. And suddenly there was all this interest because of Reagan and what they were calling the urban underclass. Chicago was the center of all that research. And I got much more interested in how can we help make the lives better for Black Americans who are stuck in the situation. And I ended up doing my dissertation on how people who are on welfare, what their views were on the welfare system. There was all that talk of welfare reform at that point. What do they think?
And I went all over the city and just talked to people. And I went into every public housing development in Chicago, because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. And I just became so angry that American government was forcing people to live like that. I don’t know if you remember what those old high-rises looked like. The first time I went into public housing that wasn’t just senior housing was the Robert Taylor homes, which were 2 miles of high-rise developments on the far South Side. And they ran along the Dan Ryan Expressway, or rather, the Dan Ryan Expressway ran along them, because it was built to keep them there.
I got there in the afternoon because I didn’t have a clue where this address was I was going to. We didn’t have a GPS or anything. We just went. And I had a friend with me who was helping me with the interviews. And my friend Karen, who was even shorter and more petite than me, wasn’t going to help anything.
And we arrived and there were all these police cars there and an ambulance. And it was a really windy day and there was no grass. And there was dust blowing everywhere. All the kids were standing there with tears running down their eyes, waiting for the elevator. And that was my first experience, getting in an elevator. People were staring at me, what are you doing here? And we got up to the woman’s apartment on the 13th floor, and she looked at us and said, “What are you doing here? Didn’t you see the police? There has just been a shooting.” She said, “Get in here” and she took care of us.
And it was kind of amazing going inside her apartment because it was absolutely pristinely clean. I think she was working with young moms in the development. She had a job and an education. And she was trying to raise her kids in the middle of all of this. That was also during the second mayoral campaign for Harold Washington. It was 1987. Things were getting more and more fraught as my going out and talking to people went on. And I also didn’t know I shouldn’t go out there on election day.
I had been working for Harold. I had my Harold Washington sticker on. And I went into this different high-rise in the ABLA Homes. I was with my friend again, and these young men came up and surrounded us. And they were like, “What are you doing here?” And they got on the elevator with us. And I thought, this is it. I’ve been lucky so far. But I should have known. This is bad. And one of them said, “Who did you vote for?” My friend was trying to explain what we were doing. She’s chatty and she was going to tell them all about it. And I said, “No, no, no, not right now. We voted for Harold.” And he said, “You’re okay.” And he let us go.
And then he saw me again a week or two later, I was sitting outside on somebody’s stoop. This is great, this is my friend. I think I learned a lot about what people were living with and just people were people. And I learned about the toll of living in poverty. I did not have the words yet – what it did to people.
The other story that really sticks in my mind as I was interviewing this woman who was overweight and had some gray hair. And she was telling me about her diabetes and her hypertension. She actually told me she had her children when she was 13 and they were 13 years old at the beginning of the interview. And that didn’t make any sense to me. I guess I didn’t process it when she said it. So, I asked her at the end, how old are you? And she told me and we were exactly the same age. And she was already old at 26.
When I finished that job, I actually ended up staying at Northwestern on a post doc, working on a project called the Gautreaux Desegregation Program, which was helping people who had lived in public housing move to areas that were less than 30% Black. It was very moving to talk to people who had moved. And they talked about how hard that was, and they also talked about how glad they were to have gotten away.
But I really got more touched, hearing about the people who didn’t move and worrying about the people who got left behind because they were still at that point – there were still more than 40,000 people living in public housing in Chicago. And the developments started to empty out because they stopped filling the vacancies at some point in there.
I ended up doing a lot of work on trying to understand. They were trying all these different things to try to control the crime in those developments at that point. And I actually got hired by the Housing Authority to evaluate some of their programs. I was bouncing around different universities in Chicago working on grants and got a National Institute of Justice grant to do a bigger evaluation. And we spent a lot of years getting to know people, then took that project to DC.
One of the things that happened is that people think I live in Chicago because I did that for so long. I was going back and forth the whole time. I gave up being an academic. There’s a middle story in here. When I finished that first project at Northwestern, I went to the University of Illinois – Chicago, School of Public Health, to work on an AIDs project because AIDs was the big crisis at that moment and I was supposed to be the evaluation director. And I got pregnant. And eventually I got fired. The guy who was the principal investigator could hire his friend and get rid of the pregnant woman. He said I could come back to be his assistant with a lower title.
MJC: So, another direct experience of sex discrimination.
SP: It was quite something. And I remember talking to Anne Ladky at Women Employed and she helped me bargain for more severance. And that was about all you could do at that point. I thought my career was over. I was bouncing around helping out a friend at Loyola, actually. And that’s when I got hyped by the Chicago Housing Authority. And I kept looking for academic jobs. My husband was working for the Transit Authority and I didn’t want to leave Chicago really. And I made it all the way to the final candidate at a job at the University of Chicago School of Social Service administration. And one of the older white male professors decided I wasn’t I wasn’t quite the right fit. He just killed it.
At that point, I decided I don’t want to do this anymore. And Clinton had just been elected, and my husband was miserable at the Chicago Transit Authority, which was a lot of patronage and dysfunction. He got a job in Northern Virginia. We came here, and within a couple of weeks I had an offer from Abt Associates, which is a big research company. And I was in interviews, and I was able to pretty much keep doing what I’ve been doing.
MJC: Just explain that a little bit for our listeners here.
SP: The federal government, especially since Reagan, contracts out a lot of its research and evaluation function. They are what they call the Beltway bandits who do this work. Abt Associates is one of them. It’s a big research firm. At that point, they were doing a lot of housing work. There also is the organization where I am now, the Urban Institute, which does some of that work, but also is more of a think tank, more of a hybrid. And then there are a whole bunch of others. They do the work for the federal government.
We’re supposed to be the independent evaluators for the federal government, for the programs that they pay for. I was a funny fit at Abt because I was sort of already doing my own thing with this work in public housing. And I learned a lot because I had to run projects that we won from the federal government that were very prescriptive to what you could do. I learned a lot about housing policy, as I had no idea about it before I got there.
I learned how much the government was cutting everything and what that was doing. And the Clinton Administration did not do anything to reverse that trend. They actually made it worse. It was under Clinton that they were talking about dismantling the Department of Housing and Development. But it’s also under Clinton that they decided they were going to see if they could save the public housing program. Because by that time, Reagan had made it the symbol, the failure of welfare policy, especially Chicago. Everybody knew about Chicago. Everybody knew about those high-rises. They were in movies. They were in these terrible places.
And they took over the Chicago Housing Authority in 1995. And they were going to make it an example. We’re going to show you that even this terrible place can be redeemed. You could turn it into something new. And the work I had started doing, talking to the residents about what was going on, ended up getting turned into tracking what was happening after HUD took over. We continued surveying the residents and interviewing them through 1998, and at one point, I was the only person who had a list of addresses for all the buildings. I mean, it was a mess.
That housing authority was a complete disaster. They had stopped collecting the rent. And people were living in these horrible conditions, worse than anything I had seen before. I mean, things like the incinerators were backing up. We were in one building where it had backed up to the 7th floor, and people were in there with their kids, and it was disgusting. And they cleaned it up a little so they could have the Democratic National Convention two blocks away in 1996. And in 1998, Richard Daley had been elected as Mayor after Harold Washington died.
And he agreed to take back control of the housing authority, if the federal government would give him $1.6 billion to take it back so that he could do what he thought needed to happen. They had started demolishing some of the high-rises by then, and his father had built those things, had overseen the building of them and was blamed for a lot of what went wrong. And I think he was seeking to redeem his dad. He was not going to have this fail on his watch.
I’ve not seen this happen in any other city with the public housing. He got the MacArthur Foundation to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the transformation. He got a whole consortium of local funders to join him. Eventually he got more than $3 billion in federal and state money, and they tore them all down. There are no high-rises left in Chicago, except for a handful of senior buildings. They’ve all been replaced with low-rise developments that are called mixed income, as they have some people pay full rent or own some of the buildings. Although I would say that part of it has been a mixed bag because a lot of people lost their housing along the way.
At first, I was one of the biggest critics of the Housing Authority, and I always say they were losing the residents, and this is a disaster. And was supporting some of the lawyers who were suing the Housing Authority in the city and eventually became and still am a collaborator with the Housing Authority on developing world class resident services. Right now, I would say they’ve been one of the best housing authorities in the country for a long time now.
MJC: That’s a great story. Can we connect the fact that you got involved in politics on the ERA to your later accomplishments?
SP: In a way, because it made me feel like you had to keep fighting for change, and not shut up and go away. God knows they tried to shut me up. HUD tried to shut me up, the housing authority tried to shut me up. My boss tried to shut me up. One of the reasons I left Abt Associates for the Urban Institute in 1998 was Urban Institute gives you academic freedom. And they were going to let me write the book I wanted to write about it. I ended up with a funny reputation. Some of the lawyers in Chicago were referring to me as that woman in Washington. “We don’t know what she’s doing, that woman in Washington.” And I didn’t just give up when I got fired. I didn’t just give up when I didn’t get the job I wanted.
MJC: It taught us to fight for ourselves, right?
SP: Yes. And to find something. I mean, what I fight for is obscure. It’s a small slice. But if it’s helped make it a little bit better for the people who were enduring public housing in Chicago, then I had done something. It also got me very focused because I got to know a lot of the women over the years, talking to them. It got me very focused on the amount of sexual violence that occurs and isn’t talked about.
The next project I ended up doing was trying to figure out a way to address that issue because almost all the anti-crime funding goes into the gun violence, understandably. And the young men. There is this other problem that happens when people live in a war zone, which is what it was very much like, and the women were absorbing a lot of the pain for the community. Still are, I think. I think Me Too has not – there certainly was a big taboo against talking about it. And then we came in here, these white women, saying “you have this problem, we should talk about it.” They were not exactly welcoming.
And we ended up working with a community in DC, and we learned to do community engaged research and work with people and build trust. And once we build trust, then people start talking. It is something that’s very troubling. It is something that’s distressing. It is something they’re worried about with their daughters and with their sons. It’s not just happening to girls. And they’re also worried about what messages their sons are getting. That this is okay.
And colleagues of mine took that over. But we’ve been working with this community in DC for over a decade now and have built a community-based program for the kids. We learned through that project that being food insecure puts girls particularly at risk, and it makes them easier to exploit. And I think that’s been something that has had more impact than other things I’ve done.
MJC: These are contemporary problems that you’re dealing with in your work today, is that correct?
SP: Yes. To some extent, but not as much. And this is such an interesting time because I met you when Reagan was ascending and they were cutting, and everything has been cut, squeezed. Let’s get rid of [it]. Even Obama had two years where he had enough money, and then the Congress put the budget squeeze on. And this is the first administration I’ve seen in my life that actually wants to increase the amount of money that’s going to housing, to other programs to try to address the inequities.
MJC: Are you still active in your organization? Any other activism?
SP: I’m still doing my housing thing. And then I became disabled. I have a chronic illness, and I’ve been using a cane, I guess, since 2017. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease. So, we’ve gotten involved in disability activism. I also have a daughter who has had some challenges with disability. I had already gotten my husband very activated in special education advocacy since the school system failed her so badly. I’ve gotten involved both because of self-interest, and I think because I see the intersectionality, just for disability, poverty, racism, people of color. I’m more likely if I have a disability to be failed. The schools fail them.
When I first started using my cane at the Urban Institute, it was a very eye-opening experience about how people reacted. In this progressive [environment], allegedly. People are very uncomfortable with disability. You feel shame, and they don’t know what to say. And when we moved to a brand-new building in 2019, I kept saying, before we move, let me try the furniture. It’s not going to just be me. We’re going to have women who get pregnant. We’ve got a lot of people over 50. They all have backs and bad knees. We need the furniture to work. We need it to be comfortable. And they said, “No, no, no. We’ve got this. We shouldn’t make the person with the problem do this.” I said, “No, no, you are not going to know what I need, or what somebody else needs.”
And we moved into this glossy new building, and it was not ADA compliant. There were no power openers on the doors. The doors were so heavy, I couldn’t open them. Other people couldn’t either. The bathroom doors were too heavy. The garage didn’t have the proper handicapped spaces. And I got activated. I got so angry. There was a lot of discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion. We had a big initiative – as we should have. But disability was on nobody’s radar screen as an equity issue.
And I kept saying, “it is. It absolutely is. And it’s not just me. They were treating it as “Sue’s problem. This is Sue’s problem. We need to fix the doors for Sue. Sue can’t open the bathroom door.” There was an email going around that was copied on multiple people that somebody should just volunteer to help her open the door to the bathroom. I’m 57 years old. I don’t need a bathroom buddy. They call our support groups, affinity groups, at Urban Institute.
So, we started a disability affinity group and this wonderful young woman who is in one of our other departments joined me, and she has invisible disabilities. And we have a great group who’ve been pushing on things like disability leave. And we got the doors fixed. They fixed everything while we were out for the pandemic. And we just did a virtual event with Judy Heumann, the big disability rights activist, who I knew nothing about before this happened. And I’m hoping that my next act at the Urban Institute will be to build some research around disability inclusion.
MJC: Excellent. So needed, and everybody, if they’re lucky, gets old. And then we don’t have the strength to open those doors either, right?
SP: Disability is part of life.
MJC: Anything that we haven’t covered that we need to cover?
SP: Let’s see. I was part of Hillary’s campaign in 2016. At that point, I was ready for a new challenge. And I was excited. I mean, goodness, my mother got me all excited about Shirley Chisholm. I’ve been waiting. We’ve all been waiting. So I asked, how do you get involved? And I met Peter Edelman, who knows my boss at the Urban Institute. She had a million policy planning committees, which may have been part of the problem, I don’t know. But she had an awfully uphill battle to fight.
So, I was part of the Housing Policy group and was advising her on affordable housing. And that was very exciting. I organized the group and we were doing policy memos and getting information out to the campaign when they went to different states about what are the issues in Pennsylvania or Ohio or wherever she was going. And I got to go to the convention. It was disheartening. It was wonderful in a lot of ways. It was exciting. There were young women handing out ERA YES buttons, just like we used to have, which was fun. The part that was disheartening was the Bernie faction.
MJC: In what way?
SP: I was there the day that they walked out, and there was so much anger. And I thought, if we don’t come together, we’re going to lose it all. I understand we can disagree. That’s fine. You can push her to the left. That’s great. My kids were all excited about it. He was very inspiring to young people, there’s no getting around it. But also, I felt the sexism in it, too. I spent the day, and I was really scared. They had us going out and campaigning all over, and Virginia was already blue by then. And I was going around and knocking on doors. And I was out in somebody’s house organizing things the day that Jim Comey came out with the statement that exonerated her. I thought, “Oh damn, he just killed it. This election is over.”
He just stirred it all up again. And it just felt bad even being at an election day. I know what winning feels like. I’ve done a lot of campaigns here in Virginia. We’ve knocked on a million doors here. And I know what it felt like when Obama was winning – that felt fantastic. And this didn’t. No, it felt like a slog, and it felt very uncertain. And I went to work that day, and met with my boss at the Urban Institute. And she was advising me of how to get to be a special advisor at HUD. And then it was all over by 10:00. I went to bed shaking.
MJC: So glad to have known you at the beginning of your political life in the ERA campaign. Is there anything we’ve not talked about that we should?
SP: You were my first real boss out of college. I’m really glad I had the experience and the opportunity. And I come from a family where people thought about these things. It made me more aware and more pragmatic, too. My sister was not pragmatic. She never was in that way. The young activists today don’t want to be. They don’t want to wait. And I think this made me realize that you don’t always win, and you have to keep coming back. A lot of what you do is not going to be glamorous.
I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on an important experience in my young adulthood. I realized afterwards that we didn’t talk about how the experience affected my personal life. As I told Mary Jean, I married Norm Hall, who was my boyfriend at the time of the campaign, and we’ve been married now for 38 years and have 2 kids. It’s been a very different marriage than either of our parents – or of most people our age that we know. I’ve had the higher profile job and been the major earner since we came to the DMV in 1993. Norm decided to career switch in 2003 and become a teacher, but after my father and sister died in 2005 and we ended up with responsibility for our 16-year old nephew and my aging mom, we decided that since I had a demanding job that involved considerable travel, it made more sense for him to stay home and take on the family care and management. Our daughter became ill a few years later in 2009 and while we shared the responsibility for managing her care, Norm ended up staying at home until she finally finished high school in 2017. Like many women who end up leaving the workforce for, he’s paid the price and ended up with a lower paying job. Through it all, I’ve seen us very much as a team, both contributing in different ways – both putting our family at the center. He’s had more time for volunteering and activism, while as I told Mary Jean, I’ve contributed through my work at Urban. I feel very lucky and know that our marriage is something that my own mother couldn’t have even imagined – though she was a feminist, she put all of her own ambitions aside to support my dad in his career.