Mary Grefe, all the world is her neighborhood."
Kathleen Wood, The Des Moines Register, January
A. Grefe, a leader in educational policy from Des Moines, was
elected to a two-year term as national president of the American
Association of University Women in 1979. She has distinguished
herself in shaping educational policy as presidential delegate
to the UNESCO Third World Conference on Adult Education, as chairperson
of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Adult Education, and as a member
of the Des Moines School Board for 12 years. She was also a member
of the United States delegation to the United Nations Mid-Decade
Conference for Women. A former YWCA director, Grefe has worked
as a professional consultant on organizational development and
is a member of the boards of directors of Central National Bank
and Bankers Life companies in Des Moines. She was born in 1928.
Grefe was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1980.
UPDATE: Grefe is
the retired president of LEAD Associates, Ltd. of Des Moines.
Currently, she serves on the board of trustees of Morningside
College and as treasurer of the Iowa Peace Institute, for which
she formerly served as chairperson. She is the past president
of the National American Association of University Women--the
only person to have been nominated and elected from the floor
of the national convention. She has also served as president
of the AAUW Educational Foundation, which makes grants of over
$2 million annually to women scholars. Past community service
in Des Moines includes serving as president of the Des Moines
School Board and member for 12 years and past president of the
Metro Des Moines League of Women Voters. A former YWCA executive
director, Grefe has been active at all levels of government in
working for equal rights for women. She was appointed by President
Ford as the first woman to chair the National Advisory Council
on Adult Education, has travelled widely as an official government
delegate to international conferences overseas, including Tokyo,
Japan, Copenhagen, Denmark, Nairobi, Kenya, and as a guest of
the Chinese government to China. She received the National Brotherhood
Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice.
She holds five honorary doctorates, the most recent in 1997 from
the University of New England.