Barbara Moorman Boatwright

"Because of her tireless work in the public policy arena,
she has been and continues to be,
a gift to all the citizens of Iowa."
— Representative Ro Foege, 2008


Barbara Moorman Boatwright, of Des Moines, is a social worker by profession and an activist by temperament. Throughout her 84 years, she has lived a seamless life, working both personally and professionally to solve problems, promote peace and justice, and empower others. As a social worker, she has counseled individuals and families, mentored student social workers, and taught as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Iowa School of Social Work. In 2000, she was named Iowa Social Worker of the Year and in 2006 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Social Workers. In her personal life, Boatwright has been a community activist, taking the values of social work to propel her into political involvement. Boatwright’s political advocacy had spanned 60 years, working on behalf of progressive candidates and as a founding member of DAWN, the Democratic Activist Women’s Network. She has recruited numerous women to run for public office and worked on many state and local campaigns, raising funds to support women candidates. Recognizing the difficulties faced by women in the male-dominated General Assembly, she facilitated a bi-partisan retreat for women legislators. To alleviate poverty and empower low-income people in developing countries, Barbara established a “fair trade” shop in her church, making products created by artisans in 35 countries available to members of the church and community (70% of the artisans were women needing to support their families.) Through the Peace and Justice committee of her church she facilitated in bringing International Peacemakers to Des Moines for various high school and community activities to increase international understanding. As a League of Women Voters board member she organized non-partisan candidate forums for many contested local elections. In 1999, the Iowa Association of Social Workers established the Boatwright Political Action Award for her work to strengthen diversity and empower women. Boatwright is a catalyst for change, a teacher, a mentor, and a woman whose life is a testimony to her values and convictions. She was born on February 2, 1924, in Pittsburgh, PA. Boatwright was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.