BREAKING: Geraldine Ferraro Has DiedPosted: March 26, 2011
Sad news this Saturday morning.
Geraldine A. Ferraro, who earned a place in history in 1984 as the first woman to run on a major party national ticket for vice president, has died. She was 75-years-old.
Ferraro, who was born in Newburgh, New York, passed away today at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her loved ones, a statement from her family read.
The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for twelve years, her family said.
Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro earned a place in history as the first woman and first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket, serving as Walter Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party ticket.
Though best known for her political achievements, Geraldine Ferraro started her career in public service upon graduation from Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan, where she received her B.A. in English in 1952.
She became a New York City schoolteacher, teaching second grade at P.S. 85 in Astoria, Queens, part of the District she would later represent in Congress.
While teaching, Ms. Ferraro earned a law degree from Fordham Law School. One of three women in her class, she recounted that an admissions officer said to her, “I hope you’re serious, Gerry. You’re taking a man’s place, you know.” She passed the New York State Bar exam three days before her marriage to John A. Zaccaro, and practiced under the surname Ferraro as a tribute to her mother’s struggles as a widow to raise her.
Ms. Ferraro spent thirteen years at home raising her children, during which time she also practiced law pro bono in Queens County Family Court on behalf of women and children and served as President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association.
In 1974, she was sworn in as an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. There, she started the Special Victims Bureau, where she supervised the prosecution of sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence and violent crimes against senior citizens.
Ms. Ferraro was first elected to Congress from New York’s Ninth Congressional District in Queens in 1978, and served three terms in the House of Representatives before being tapped for the Vice Presidential run.
In her second term, she was elected Secretary of the Democratic Caucus (now called Vice Chair).
Her committee assignments in Congress included the Public Works and Transportation Committee, Post Office and Civil Service Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Select Committee on Aging.
Her legislative achievements included creating a flextime program for public employees, which has become the basis of such programs in the private sector. She also successfully sponsored the Women’s Economic Equality Act, which ended pension discrimination against women, provided job options for displaced homemakers, and enabled homemakers to open IRAs.
From 1988 to 1992, Ms. Ferraro served as a Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
In October 1993, she was appointed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission by President Clinton, and served in that position through 1996. During her tenure, the Commission for the first time condemned anti-Semitism as a human rights violation and prevented China from blocking a motion criticizing its human rights record. Prior to her nomination as Ambassador, Ms. Ferraro served as a public delegate to the Commission in February 1993 and as the alternate United States delegate to the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993. She was appointed head of the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna shortly thereafter, and headed the delegation to China for the Fifth World Conference on Women.
From 1996 until 1998, Ms. Ferraro was a co-host of Crossfire, a political interview program, on CNN. She was also a partner in the CEO Perspective Group, a consulting firm which advises top executives.
In 1992 and 1998, Ms. Ferraro was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate.
In February 2007, Ms. Ferraro became a principal in the government relations practice of Blank Rome LLP, where she counseled clients on a wide range of public policy issues. Prior to joining Blank Rome, Ms. Ferraro chaired the Public Affairs practice of the Global Consulting Group (GCG), a leading international communications firm.
In a statement released shortly after her death, her family said “Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed.”