Barbara Hays joined the Midland (MI) Chapter of NOW in 1975, in the hopes of getting help finding non-sexist reading lists for her two young daughters. Her NOW work in Michigan over the next ten years included being president of her chapter, the state’s ERA Task Force Chair, and state president for two years. She also gained valuable grassroots organizing training, working as a volunteer for six months in Illinois on NOW’s ERA Countdown Campaign in 1982.
In the mid-1980s she moved to the Washington DC area and began working at the National NOW Action Center, first in NOW’s coalition work on federal legislation on Capitol Hill, and then as National NOW’s Chapter and State Development Director, a position she held for over 20 years. She traveled nationally, visiting and working with NOW chapters, state organizations and regions all over the U.S., and leading activist trainings at the National NOW office. Barbara has also served as Maryland NOW state secretary, executive vice-president, and, president (2008-2009), and treasurer. She is again serving as Maryland NOW president as she works to mentor new leadership. She is also the treasurer of the Maryland NOW PAC.
Barbara was recently invited to contribute her history and stories to the Veteran Feminists of America. As she told them “Working with people at the grassroots became my passion.” That hasn’t ever changed.
Originally from Southern Indiana, Barbara lived in Michigan for 20 years and graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Political Science and concentrations in Constitutional and Public Law. She also studied Political Participation in graduate school at the University of Maryland/School of Government and Politics.
She is an avid genealogy researcher, and loves hiking, gardening, and classical music.