Let me first note how honored and delighted I am to join Alissa Quinn and Milinda Reed as a Trailblazing Women of 2014. Hurrah for the scholarship recipients in the room today.

My deep thanks to the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region whose work enhances the lives of women and girls. And in so doing they improve the whole neighborhood.

My thanks as well to the superb staff of the Community Foundation led by Karen Bilowith and to my admirable colleagues on the Community Foundation Board chaired by Ellen Sax.

One of my daughters, Lauren Desole, has made the journey from NYC to be with us today with her son Cory Desole Faragon, the eldest of our five grandchildren. Thank you, sweethearts.

My thanks to Meredith Butler, my partner of thirty years and my spouse of three, who is a model for transforming one’s life after a stellar career as Dean of the Libraries at the U at Albany to artist and business woman. (She won’t let me mention her elegant treasure boxes in the marketplace.) Meredith is my steady joy with an occasional spritze of lemon.

I thank my many friends and colleagues from across my life who are in this room this afternoon. I am deeply moved by your care. You all make my days sweeter and give me the energy and support that fuels my work and my life.

What an exemplary group of women and men you are. On this Women’s Fund occasion, I’ll point to just a few of my women friends who have inspired me and moved me forward as I do my work:

  • Artist Anne Mataraso
  • Nancy Brandt, hospice volunteer
  • Francine Frank, formerly Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University at Albany
  • Gwen Wright, Executive Director of the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Susan Kress, Professor of English and former Academic Vice President at Skidmore College
  • Barbara Goldstein, Principal of Poestenkill Elementary School
  • Jean Corrigliano, formerly an Administrative Court Judge
  • Libby Post, a brave and tireless advocate for LGBT people and the owner of Communications Services
  • Judith Fetterley, feminist extrodinaire, a Distinguished Professor at the University at Albany, now a garden designer and the owner of Perrenial Wisdom. Judy has been my savvy and relentless ally over the decades. She is a woman who is there when the going gets rough.

Right now I am particularly awed and inspired by the courage and accomplishment of Family Court Judge Margaret Walsh who with the support of her spouse Julie Harris waged no less than an heroic campaign to become the first woman justice on the Supreme Court in this region. Since 2006, all eleven justices for the past eight years have been white men. Peggy Walsh bucked the democratic hierarchy. They finally nominated their guy in the primary, but by running her delegates in that primary, she opened the door for another good woman who ran on the on the republican line and won. It was Peggy Walsh’s nerve and valor that reminded those politicians that the people of this region value diversity on the bench.

These are a few of my women friends who are in this audience so you can see how fortunate I am, and we all are.

I am proud to be a feminist, a lesbian, a woman committed to peace and justice and surrounded by likeminded people.

I’ve learned that the pursuit of happiness in life is complicated. Our culture encourages us to entertain ourselves, to accumulate: “ he who has with the most toys wins.” The pursuit of happiness is conflated with the pursuit of pleasure.

My experience shows me that a more reliable way to personal joy is through:



Locking arms with others who want to move our common lot forward.

As Toni Morrison says: A life without an active commitment to the general good is "a barren life and a trivial one."

And as one wit pointed out: Life has no remote. Get up and make the change you want yourself.

I’ve learned that - as I put my shoulder to the wheel to pay for the advantages I enjoy and to help move us into a better future – I’ve made myself very, very happy, although that was not my motive.

And again, The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region and all of you here today have deepened my happiness even more with this award.

My thanks to you all.