This year, The Spokesman-Review once again is celebrating remarkable women in the greater Spokane area. In this section, we tell their stories and the achievements they’ve accomplished in these unprecedented times of pandemic, protests, division and a presidential election. Set against the backdrop of the centennial of the 19th amendment, which gave women the vote from coast to coast, it is clear that women continue to innovate, invent and inspire. While there is much work to do to ensure a level playing field for all women, we can look at the good works by Spokane-area women past and present as a significant building block to a better future.
Debra Schultz has never been one to be idle. She was one of the first women to be a soil scientist in the state of Michigan. She spent 20 years teaching middle school in Spokane Public Schools. She’s served on district and state curriculum development and assessment committees. And she also co-founded the Inland Northwest Land Trust, now called the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy.
If you attended a community college in Spokane, you have, in part, Jane Johnson to thank. If you attended Expo ’74 or benefit from the event’s lasting impact, you have, in part, Jane Johnson to thank. If you’ve visited the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture at its current location on First Avenue, you have, in part, Jane Johnson to thank.
She’s nothing special. To hear Brandie Evans tell it, she’s just a regular person with some run-of-the-mill skills that she’s happy to put to use when she sees a need arise. A little organizing here, a little note-taking there – it’s really not a big deal, she insists. And yet, if you talk to her colleagues at Partners Advancing Character Education in Spokane Valley and the West Plains, she’s an indispensable force for good.
For more than 10 years, Saturdays at Calvary Baptist Church in Spokane meant serving soup for those who needed it. When the coronavirus pandemic forced the church to close the program, Betty “Mama D” Dumas found a way to keep serving food on Saturdays.
The origin of “suffrage” is not suffering, although plenty of people suffered in the pursuit of suffrage. It derives from the Latin suffragium, meaning a vote or a right to vote. It can also mean a prayer of intercession, certainly an apt description given the many groups of people who have prayed for the right to vote.
When her husband, Jim Boyd, died in 2016, Shelly Boyd found herself in the midst of a long legal battle to earn recognition of her people from the Canadian government. But even before then, Boyd was working to preserve the culture, language and memory of the Sinixt tribe.
When 73-year-old rancher Walter “Sonny” Riley faced federal officials in 2018 who filed documents in federal court alleging that he was allowing his cattle to graze on public land, he knew the attorney he needed to call: Toni Meacham.
You could say that Vange Ocasio Hochheimer has hit her stride, but that doesn’t really begin to explain how the Puerto Rican economist came to be a professor, board member for various local organizations and a new business owner in the Inland Northwest.
The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was ratified a century ago last month. However, before 1920, women had already won the right to vote in 15 states, including Idaho, Washington and Montana.