In recognition of her lifelong
commitment to improving the status of women, in 2015 Lawyers Club presented the
Icon Award to Former Senator Olympia Snowe.
Senator Olympia Snowe (Ret.)
The Icon Award recognizes individuals who epitomize success and innovation, and whose efforts leave a legacy. The award honors those who have continued to make meritorious contributions to society throughout their lives and who share Lawyers Club’s values of justice, inclusion and progress. Senator Snowe is a preeminent example of life-long commitment to advancing society through consensus building and advocacy. The triumphant arc of Senator Snowe’s life and career demonstrate that a persistent commitment to finding common ground and staying true to one’s beliefs can yield substantial success and profound results.
Through tragic experiences, Senator Snowe learned to harness inner strength to overcome difficult challenges. Her parents died within a year apart from one another, leaving her an orphan at the age of nine, to be raised by her aunt and uncle. In her mid-20’s, her first husband, who was then serving in the Maine Legislature, died in an automobile accident. With remarkable grit and resilience, she successfully filled his seat, and began building her legacy.
Over the next 40 years, Senator Snowe built an impressive political career, characterized by a number of firsts. She was the first woman to serve in both chambers of a state legislature and in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. Notably, Senator Snowe worked with the last six Presidents, from Presidents Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. At the age of 31, she became the youngest Republican and the first Greek-American woman to be elected to Congress. Snowe became the first Republican woman to secure a full-term seat on the Senate Finance Committee, and the first woman Senator to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she became the first woman Senator to chair the Subcommittee on Seapower.
Senator Snowe’s legacy of leadership continued as a member of the Congresswomen’s Caucus which she co-chaired for over 10 years with Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.). The Caucus first met on April 19, 1977 and in the ensuing years, the Congresswomen continued to meet to discuss important legislative issues, including Social Security and private pension reform, and the importance of child care and job training to moving women off welfare.
The Congresswomen’s Caucus counts among their long list of legislative accomplishments several bills instrumental to advancing the status of women and children including The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, The Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and The Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development Act of 1998.
Senator Snowe’s influential leadership extends beyond her legislative achievements. She has championed women’s issues, working to bring international attention to the plight of women, and representing the Congress at U.N. world conferences on women and on population and development. Devoted to societal progress, after announcing in 2012 that she would not seek reelection, Senator Snowe continues her service by writing and speaking about how Washington can once again become a place of meaningful discourse and real solutions.
Senator Snowe’s journey establishes that steadfast commitment to core values can lay the groundwork for a lasting and inspirational legacy, reminding us that anything is possible. Throughout her public service spanning four decades, Senator Snowe has courageously fought for the advancement of women, from standing for a woman’s right to reproductive choice, to addressing women’s issues internationally.