Celebrating the Contributions of Knox Alumnae

Women's History Month 2012

March 05, 2012

Throughout Knox's 175-year history, women have made a significant contribution to the College itself and the world beyond. Journalism, philanthropy, art, business, law, medicine -- these are a small sampling of the fields that have been impacted by Knox alumnae. Here are just a few of the women who have gone on to make a difference:

Ellen Browning Scripps 1859
Scripps' love of knowledge may not have quite fit into the 19th century's idea of a woman's proper place, but it was an ideal fit for Knox College and proved essential as she built her newspaper empire. After college, Scripps taught for several years, living frugally on $9 a month and putting much of her money into savings. When her brother founded Detroit's Evening News, she invested her time, skill, and money. She eventually founded even more newspapers, and by the end of her life, had amassed a sizeable fortune, much of which she gave to charitable and educational institutions. Scripps College, the Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Memorial Hospital, and the Scripps Clinic all bear her name. Read more about Ellen Browning Scripps and other pioneering alumni.

Janet Greig Post 1894
In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression, Old Main, the heart of Knox College, was in dire need of restoration. Its future was in doubt. Janet Greig Post came to its rescue. When her husband and Knox Trustee, Phillip Sydney Post, died in 1920, she assumed his position and remained on the board until her death in 1964. Post worked tirelessly to raise the funds to restore Old Main, writing thousands of letters to alumni, friends, and donors during her crusade. She was so active in the life of the campus that students attending the weekly service at Beecher Chapel had been known to "praise Father, Son, and Mrs. Post." Read more about Janet Greig Post and the restoration of Old Main.

Dorothea Tanning '32
Tanning, active as an artist for some eight decades, is perhaps best known for the Surrealist paintings she produced in the 1940s and '50s. But she was much more than a painter. She was also a sculptor, memoirist, novelist, stage and costume designer, model, and poet. She created a living body of work that spoke to her flexibility of perception, no doubt a result of her diverse experiences. Later in life, Tanning dedicated herself to the literary arts, publishing her last book of poetry, Coming to That, in October 2011, four months prior to her death on January 31, 2012, at the age of 101. She called herself "the oldest living emerging poet," proving that if anything, emergence is perennial. Read more about Dorothea Tanning and other pioneering alumni.

Elizabeth Harler Van Steenwyk '48
A native of Galesburg, Van Steenwyk is the author of more than 70 books for young people and more than 300 articles and short stories for adult and children's magazines. Her book, One Fine Day, was awarded a Teachers' Choice Award for children's books. While the subjects of her books vary, many focus on historical figures and children's lives during important historical events. Her early career was spent writing for radio and television, including work with NBC's flagship station KTSM-TV in El Paso, Texas. She and her family are the owners of the Adelaida Cellars winery in central California. Read more about Elizabeth Harler Van Steenwyk.

Susan Deller Ross '64
Ross is a defender of women's rights. In 1972 she helped convince the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to adopt new pregnancy discrimination guidelines that protect pregnant women from being fired while they were able to work, and gave them equal medical and sick-leave benefits when they were hospitalized or recuperating from childbirth. She later helped insure that the Family and Medical Leave Act covered both men and women. Her ACLU litigation projects helped establish women's rights to equal pension benefits with men. Ross is currently a Georgetown University Professor of Law and director of its International Women's Human Rights Clinic. Read more about Susan Deller Ross and other pioneering alumni.

Margery Rosen Kraus '67
Kraus is founder, president, and CEO of APCO Worldwide, one of the largest privately owned communications and public affairs consulting firms in the world. Kraus founded her first communications consultancy in 1984 and has transformed it from a company with one small Washington, D.C. office to a multinational firm with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Kraus has been named PR Professional of the Year (PR Week, 2005), one of 25 "Top Women Business Builders" (Fast Company, 2005), to the Washington Business Hall of Fame (2009), and the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame (2009), among others. Learn more about Margery Rosen Kraus.

Valerie Cwik '77
A national expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular diseases, Valerie Cwik is the executive vice president of research and medical director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). She advises the MDA's health care services and clinical research programs, interacts with the medical community, answers questions from the public and people served by MDA, and serves as chief spokesperson for MDA in media matters relating to the association's health care services program and advances in scientific research. Cwik graduated from Knox with a B.A. in biology and received her M.D. from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1985. Read more about Valerie Cwik.

Carol Bovard Craig '89
Craig is founder, president, and CEO of Craig Technologies, which has grown from one employee to a national engineering and technical services company with more than 170 employees in less than 10 years. Her career has taken her from the Department of Defense, where she developed software for aircraft cockpit systems, to the U.S. Navy, where she was the first woman aviator in her P-3 Orion squadron. Craig was named the 2008 Outstanding Woman Engineer of the Year by the Space Coast Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and was their recipient of the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Read more about Carol Bovard Craig.

Indira Somani '92
Somani is an assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at Washington and Lee University, bringing 10 years of broadcast journalism experience as a television producer to the classroom. Somani's documentary, Crossing Lines, about her struggle to stay connected to India after the loss of her father, has won numerous awards and has been screened in film festivals nationally and internationally. She has been a leader of the South Asian Journalists Association, where she has also won several "Outstanding" awards on her coverage of South Asians in North America. Learn more about Indira Somani.