VETERAN FEMINISTS of AMERICA is proud to present


Select Member Name For Close-Up


Cristina Biaggi and daughter Diana

Suzanne Benton and Janet

Muriel Fox and Lisa

Lee Kefauver and Kari Lavalli
Merle Hoffman and Sasharina Kate

Helen Redman and Shira Frank

Jane Roberts and Annie

Barbara Seaman,mother-in-law, daughters, granddaughters.

Ginny Watkins and Rhonda

Grace Ripa Welch


Article Submissions: Contact Jan Cleary, Website Manager: for information




After I graduated from Southwestern College in Lafayette, LA in 1945, I went to New York City to study voice, hoping to have a career on Broadway. By 1951 nothing much had happened, so in those days of “marry or be an old maid,” I married a dashing Colombian 12 years older than I -- a “man of means,” as my mother would say. In later years an astrologer, interpreting my marriage chart, pointed to a conglomeration of planets in the chart and said, ”Here Jacqui is saying, “If I’m going to be married, it will be different!”

I was now Jacqueline Michot de Ceballos; the “de” meaning I belonged to Ceballos. We bought a house in New Rochelle, New York. I had two sons and a daughter and went back to singing. Life was nice, but there was a hole in my heart and I didn’t know why.

Things picked up when we moved to Bogota, Colombia in 1958. With servants, I had the freedom to do a few things in this heavily male chauvinist country. So I acted and sang with the Teatro Americano, had another daughter and did what I could to help people in poverty.

At an audition for a part in an opera, I discovered great voices and learned that the teacher of these outstanding singers lived in Bogota. Soon I was involved with them and taking part in weekly informal concerts. These great voices needed to be heard, so I organized an opera company, El Teatro Experimental de la Opera. It was very successful, and my photo and name were often in the newspapers. Perhaps that is why my husband got jealous (he’d always been proud of my singing), and he actually left our home! I later heard that some of his friends suggested maybe I was having affairs with those handsome tenors!

El Teatro de La Opera‘s first ( and only) performance at the Teatro Colon opened to great applause, but the newspaper “El Tiempo” reported that “La opera destruyo un matrimonio.” (The opera destroyed a marriage.) Well, my marriage also destroyed the opera!

Friends and family urged me to get him back. He was “a good man, a good father, a good husband.” I was miserable and didn’t know what to do, until a friend returned from a stateside visit and handed me
The Feminine Mystique.

I’d read Simone de Beauvoir, but Betty Friedan got me where I was! Now I realized it wasn’t my husband, or me--but society, and society had to change! And I was determined to help change it. So I plotted my way back to NYC.

My husband had returned home as though nothing had happened, but things were no longer the same, and in 1966 with his help I returned to New York with my four children to join NOW.

But there wasn’t a NOW chapter until the next year. Meanwhile I was organizing our new life in the Big Apple.

Jacqui and daughter Michele

My daughters got scholarships to the National Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts, which taught dance, music, art and academic subjects, and were busy from 7 to 7. My oldest son was in a private school, and the younger one was in a good New York public school. But before long it was obvious that I couldn’t handle the four children, especially two boys in their teens, so later I sent them back to Bogota to live with their dad. Now I had time to work with the young NOW chapter.

The New York NOW chapter already had over 100 members and was incredibly active. Often there were demonstrations , and my daughters were sometimes able to attend. One they especially remember was our action against Colgate Palmolive, which refused to pay women employees the same as their male employees, in spite of Title VII.

That day several of us gathered on Park Avenue in front of CP headquarters and marched around chanting that CP‘s products were bought by women, yet CP women were earning less than men.The big moment was when we poured Ajax down Kate Millett’s sculptured toilet – The toilet had a woman’s legs and feet in high heels straddling the toilet bowl, dramatizing the degradation of women.“This is where you pour your Ajax, women,” we’d scream. The reporters loved it . Photos of our demo ran in major newspapers around the country. Colgate Palmolive changed it’s discriminatory policy the next week.

In 1971 Michele went to London to study at the Royal School of Ballet and later Janine went to the Bejart School of Dance in Belgium. In a few years both were involved in their careers and personal lives, and I, worn out after years of heavy movement activity, moved back to Louisiana.

But , as most feminists activists are “ at it” until the end of their lives, the loss of the ERA and the growing negative attitude towards feminists ( we were now called “femininazis”! ) spurred me on again. Seeing that all the work we’d done would be forgotten, as would we, in 1993, with the help of some great feminists, I founded Veteran Feminists of America. VFA has thrived from the first, especially with the help of Muriel Fox--a founder of NOW--and Sheila Tobias, writer/lecturer. Our webpage,, is testimony of all we have done.

Jacqui with Granddaughter Natalia Ronceria Ceballos and Betty Friedan

By 2006 Michele, now single, her two children grown, was running her dance school and company in Phoenix, and freer to actively get involved in VFA. She was a major help at the three events we held that year: honoring Helen Reddy in Los Angeles on May 1; on May 2, when we paid tribute to California pioneer feminists; and that November, when we introduced Feminists Who Changed America at Columbia University and Barnard College in New York.

In 2009 I moved to Phoenix to spend my “golden” years near Michele, who’s become invaluable to VFA. In August that year VFA honored pioneer feminists in Stockton, CA, where my son Denis and his family live. Michele ran VFA business -- greeting guests, selling items, being a gracious host. We couldn’t have done without her. My daughter in law, Elinor, who is a photographer , took photos of the event and proudly displayed them on several websites. So my VFA work has kind of become a family affair!

Again in March 2010, at our huge event in Dallas, TX. Michele was running the VFA table, selling VFA items, signing in members.

In April the following year I was soley in charge of a memorial celebration of Betty Friedan on the 48th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique and the 45th of NOW. There is no way I could have managed without Michele. We also had help from Michele’s niece (daughter of her half sister) and a friend of Michele’s. The three were charming hosts, greeting everyone, doing whatever had to be done.

That October VFA had our most successful event yet, a collaboration with Rollins College in Orlando Florida - the first time VFA had joined with a college to put on an event. Again, Michele was indispensable, especially helping run the Silent Auction.

My granddaughter, Michele’s daughter Natalia, finds time from her salaried executive position to handle VFA’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and assists with computer/email/webpage business whenever I need it.

I hear that children of some feminist activists resented their mother’s involvement in the Movement. I’m happy to say that my children--not only my daughters, but my two sons as well--have always supported me in my feminist activities. In 1968 my son Douglas acted in Myrna Lamb’s play. “But What Have You Done For Me Lately?”, playing a male legislator who had fought to make abortion illegal , but somehow was impregnated and desperate for an abortion . My son, Denis pays dues and helps in other ways. Daughter Janine cannot help, but she is raising her young son as a feminist.

I am truly blessed that my children, especially Michele, have taken this journey with me. If the feminist movement is to succeed worldwide , our children and grandchildren and on and on must be with us and help as they are able.

--Jacqui Michot Ceballos, January 15, 2012


Cristina Biaggi and daughter Diana

Four Generations, from left to right: Savannah Green, Virginia Howard Biaggi Redmond, Cristina Biaggi, Diana Green

My mother was born and brought up in Utah of Mormon parents. While later journeying to Italy she met, fell in love, and married my father, and became a Catholic. They had three children. World War II broke out, and after enduring the Allied bombings for two years, and after the fall of Mussolini in 1943, my father took my mother and the three of us children to Switzerland where we spent the remainder of the war. When the war ended my father, who had not seen my mother for a year, fell in love with a woman seventeen years his junior, and that was that. My mother and the three of us children then journeyed to the United States with twenty-five suitcases, five trunks, a grand piano and two dogs. Then she divorced my father.

My mother was a very good mother. She was one hundred percent committed to her children and loved us all unconditionally. I had disagreements with my mother, especially after I went to Vassar College and discovered that I was attracted to women. I went through some hard times, and my mother supported me through them unconditionally. She was totally there for me. We shared a birthday, and when I turned forty and from then on, we started to have a terrific relationship. We went on many wonderful trips together. The first was a trip to England with her and sister where we visited English gardens. This was our present for her seventieth birthday. We also went to India, Egypt, and to China, and Crete. I will cherish the memories of these trips with my mother to my dying day. We frequently went to the theater, to the opera, and to museums. We went on hikes together. She was a lovely and very compassionate person and a fierce Democrat.

CRISTINA BIAGGI, PhD, is foremost an artist and has exhibited throughout the US, Europe and Australia. She also has achieved international recognition for her varied and significant contributions to the field of Goddess-centered art and scholarship. Her works are a reflection and an extension of her lifelong interest in the classics, art and art history, archaeology, literature, languages acquired at Vassar, the University of Utah, Harvard and New York University as well as from her extensive travel throughout the world.

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos


Suzanne Benton and daughter Janet Benton

Suzanne Benton, an artist and an activist since early days of the movement is also a founder of VFA. Suzanne, who always used her art in feminist demonstrations, is a transculturalist and is often traveling to some remote part of the world. In 1996 VFA was honoring activists on NOW's 30th anniversary , but, Suzanne was in Bosnia. Janet , her daughter accepted her medal of honor. No one present that evening will forget Janet's acceptance speech.. Many of us were raising children at the time and could identify. Here are excerpts. . Read them and cry,. And laugh!

It wasn't always easy having a mother dedicated to feminism and to becoming herself. I came home from third grade to find that my full-size baby carriage and baby doll who wet her pants, along with Barbie, her lovely accessories, and most of my stuffed animals, had been donated to a day-care center. While I got an appendectomy a few months earlier, Mom was marching through New York City streets with a procession of women wearing her metal masks, proclaiming the second coming of the great goddess. And after my parents divorced, I often came home to an empty house. It was a strange irony, the way that a joyous liberation and a freeing divorce sucked the joy from my life.

But I also received a treasure, one that I have come to understand as rare since hearing many people tell me what happened to the dreams, to the capacities of their mothers, and that is that my mother is a creative, strong, courageous woman who will never give up. The pride she has brought me, and the self-respect and assertiveness she has worked so hard to teach me, have proved more nutritive than hundreds of perfectly cooked meals.

So thank you for acknowledging Suzanne's thirty years of work on behalf of women. It means a lot to both of us.

For more about Suzanne ..see our Art Section.

To reach Janet.. now a mother herself..


Muriel Fox and Lisa Aronson Fontes

Muriel Fox's daughter, Lisa Aronson Fontes, teaches psychology as core faculty with The Union Institute. She s published two books on working with people from diverse cultures: "Sexual Abuse in Nine North American Cultures and Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families. Her third book, teaching professionals how to interview people from different cultures, will be published by The Guilford Press late this year. Lisa is an activist feminist, as is Muriel's son Eric Aronson.

E-Mail Muriel and Lisa at:


Merle Hoffman and Sasharina Kate Hoffman

VFA member Merle Hoffman is President/CEO of Choices Women's Medical Center in Long Island City, NY.

For more than 30 years, Merle Hoffman has revolutionized women's health care and women's lives. She founded one of the nation's first abortion clinics in 1971, making Choices Women's Medical Center one of the largest feminist health facilities in the nation, adding Choices Mental Health Center in 1995. Hoffman founded "On the Issues" magazine, a radical feminist quarterly. She is an internationally recognized leader in the struggle for social justice and women's rights.

Merle's reflection - daughter Sasharina

I always embraced the mythic and heroic to commit myself to a movement and a vision of women's freedom. Motherhood had never been part of my lexicon of self. But now I wanted a daughter- and ultimately it was about love--and about my choice to actively seek it in the act of loving an unwanted child.

Sasharina Kate has been with me for almost three years now--- she is a continual challenge, a joyful burden,a relentless eruption of spontaneity, a living energy force that engages every aspect of my being-- a catalyst for bringing me deeper into life and closer to mortality-- she is my greatest love-- she is my daughter.


Lee Kefauver and Kari Lavalli

When I began working in the Women's Movement, my bright and charming daughter Kari was eight years old. She fought her way through the old traditions in the public schools of Dearborn, Michigan, went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Wells College in New York and then her Ph.D. in marine biology from Boston University.

She went through a dispiriting time at Boston University, fighting the old-boys sexist discrimination, but now has a great job as an Assistant Professor at BU where they 've just put her on tenure track. She loves her work there and finds it most satisfying. BU is alma mater to both of us!

In the spring issue of
Bostonia, their alumnae magazine, both of us were mentioned as being listed in Feminists Who Changed America.

Kefauver served as Michigan state coordinator of NOW, as president and lobbyist of Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), Michigan Division. She currently is a member of the Massachusetts and National Women's Political Caucus, Emily's List, and the Veteran Feminists of America.)

E-mail Lee at:, or


VFA Member Helen Redman and Granddaughter Shira Frank

Helen Redman, MFA, is a widely exhibited figurative painter, teacher, feminist commentator and grandmother who shares her art in the context of life issues. She has taught at the University of Colorado and the University of Iowa and has lectured and exhibited her art across the United States. She has been an active force for gaining support and recognition for women in the arts, co-founding in the 1970s Front Range Women in the Visual Arts in Boulder, Colorado, in the 1970s, and serving as the first president of the San Diego Women's Caucus for the Arts in the 1990s.

I'd like to share this piece I wrote in 2001 when my 16 year old granddaughter played in the Vagina Monologues. It was printed by the Millenium Art Gallery webzine and is now in their online archives and hopefully accessible to you through the link below. I wanted to share it with you--it's much longer than you want but I think its a very powerful piece on generations

My Granddaughter's Performance

I have been awed by the sacredness of seeing a granddaughter born...just as it's being described in the final scene of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. It lives in my memory more vividly than the birth of my own three children. Now, 16 years later, I'm seeing Shira (Hebrew for "song") perform in the play at the Eureka Theatre in Northern California. She's the youngest member of the cast and is playing the most difficult role. In this production of Eve Ensler's outrageous series of monologues, women speak of what their vaginas have experienced. An ensemble cast is on stage at all times and tonight eight women are dividing the poignant and ribald tales.

As Shira's turn approaches, I can see her darkening into the mood of her part. At center stage for "My Vagina Was My Village," she uses the wrap of a large transparent scarf to enter the tortured body of a victim of mass rape, war rape, village rape. As the scarf encircles her face, her features become not Shira but a face so ancient in its tragic tale, it's from a Greek chorus. Stagelight makes her face an orb of moon and slowly she accents her part as a stunned silence falls on the audience.

My 16 year old grandaughter is acting this part. May she never in her life experience anything even remotely resembling it.

Shira Frank is currently working as the development director of the Jewish Primary Day School of Washington, DC. It's her first full time job after graduating with honors from Smith college, class of 2006. She is committed to economic empowerment for women and girls and social change philanthropy.

Thanks from a very proud grandmother and isn't it about time we crow about having feminist daughters, sons and granddaughters.

Visit Helen's "Birthing the Crone" website:

Read her entire 2001 Article on Shira's Performance In the The Vagina Monologues at Cream:The Creative Medium Listings
1. scroll down to historical mag click columnist index
2. scroll down alphabetically to Helen Redman


Jane Roberts and daughter Annie at March for Women's Lives 2004

A Thrill of a Lifetime

On March 25, 2004, I was at the March for Women's Lives. Not just among the crowds but on the stage carrying the American flag. There were at least 30 other women from foreign countries onstage with their flags; they wanted the world to know what Bush Administration policies (such as the Global Gag Rule and the refusal to release $34 million to the United Nations Population Fund) were doing to the women in their countries. My 28-year-old daughter Annie was with me and we were marching for the women of the world. What a great show of enthusiasm!

I had taken my whole family, husband, daughter and son to the March for Women's Lives in Los Angeles in 1986. Annie was only 10 then; she is 30 now. She's a great joy to me and, taking after her father a bit, has a Ph.D. in chemistry. When I was in college only the very exceptional woman pursued advanced degrees in the sciences. How times have changed!

I am cofounder with Lois Abraham of 34 Million Friends of the UN Population Fund. Since 2002 on our wonderful web site (, Lois and I have been asking 34 million Americans to take a stand by contributing at least one dollar.

By 2006 the UN Foundation was supporting 34 Million Friends through their Better World Campaign. Early in the day on March 25, 2004 I had met a feeble but lovely Betty Friedan at the Communications Consortium Media Center headed by the inimitable Kathy Bonk.

The week before, Molly Ivins had written a column in which she said this March was not only about Americans' access to abortion, but also the lives of women around the world. And she mentioned 34 Million Friends. In one column she called me the "embodiment of all the Miss Witherspoons of our lives." In fact, she was the first nationally syndicated columnist to write about our grassroots effort, calling it a "splendid symbolic protest." Oh do we miss her!

Another highlight that day was when my daughter and I attended the NARAL picnic. I'll never forget Kate Michelman's largess of spirit when she "stopped" the picnic and had me recite my 34 Million Friends poem (it's on our web site). So in a sense I have come full circle, with my daughter and I participating in the first March for Women's Lives in 1986 and then the one in 2004.

Forty million abortions take place in the world every year, about 25 million of them dangerous, unsafe, illegal and accounting for at least a quarter of maternal deaths. According to the UN Population Fund, $34 million would buy enough contraceptive commodities and train enough health-care workers to prevent 800,000 abortions worldwide. As of September 23, 2007, our organization has contributed $3.6 million to the support of both programs.

Yes, but since 2002 the US has withheld a grand total of $195 million! So spread the word! 34 Million Friends is sending a message from the American people to the world that WE THE PEOPLE care. I am proud to be a member of Veteran Feminists of America.

Do what you can - Support


Barbara Seaman, her mother-in-law, her daughters and her granddaughters.
Her Spirit Lives On
February 27, 2008

Barbara, was a journalist and author, a founder of the women's health movement, continues to persistently challenge the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies by

photo: Aunt Sally Miller, who had to drop out after graduation from high school to help support her brother in college.

exposing their drive for profit at the expense of women.

When women and men marched down New York's Fifth Avenue on August 26, 1980 to mark the tenth anniversary of Women's Strike for Equality and the sixtieth anniversary of women's right to vote, leading the parade were Sylvia Seaman, her daughter-in-law Barbara Seaman, and Barbara's daughter Elana Seaman, representing three generations of feminist activism.

Born in 1900, Sylvia Seaman first marched for suffrage in 1915. When in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, she reveled in the celebrations. She remained active in the feminist movement as one of five leaders participating in the 1970 march commemorating the 50th anniversary of women's

from left: Idalia, Barbara, Sophia, Carolyn Maloney

suffrage, and died of breast cancer in 1995.

In 1973 Barbara was cited by the Library of Congress as the author who raised sexism in health care as a worldwide issue, and in April 2000 the U.S. Postal Service named her an honoree of the 1970s Women's Rights Movement stamp.

Elana Seaman, just 20 in 1980, was already active in the women's movement by the time she marched down Fifth Avenue with her mother and grandmother. A junior at Bard College, she planned to work in a women's health center after her graduation. While her grandmother told the Times that women were still "left high and dry in 1980s" on issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment, Elana was more optimistic, noting that "there's always been progress and retrogression" in the several American women's movements.

from left: Shira, Elana, Grandmother Sylvia

"Between the ages of six and fifteen I spent a lot of time with my mother," says Barbara's younger daughter, Shira Seaman, "When she cofounded the National Women's Health Network, Elana and I went with her to Washington to demonstrate at the FDA." Shira's younger daughter Idalia is an outspoken feminist; her older daughter Sophia, now 16, writes long school papers on the history of British militant suffragists, the factory girls in Lowell, Massachusetts and other feminist topics.

At 72 Barbara had two books coming out in 2008:
The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause and The Body Politic, Dispatches from the Women's Health Revolution.

Indeed, the Seaman family's feminist credentials shine bright in the long history of women's activism in America.

Barbara also appears in the VFA Website FEATURES and BOOKS Sections. Yes, her spirit continues.


Ginny Watkins

Ginny Watkins, secretary of VFA, founded the NOW Chapter in Des Moines, successfully lobbied the first Child Care Sliding Fee legislation in Minnesota and served six years on the NOW National Board.

(left to right) daughter Rhonda Watkins; Ginny; granddaughter Kelly Watkins; daughter-in-law
Kathryn Hammond

Ginny is semi-retired, and when not traveling, working, or helping VFA, has taken care of daughter Rhonda's sons part-time while Rhonda and her husband work. She first thought of grandparents taking care of grandchildren when she read "The Feminine Mystique." "I was quite taken with Betty Friedan's vision of mothers being able to have good careers, but thought about who would take care of the children. This was before childcare as we know it was well developed. Of course for many reasons not all grandparents are able to do this, but if possible it can provide excellent support to a busy working family."

Her daughter, Rhonda Watkins, a freelance prop stylist and the mother of two young sons, is particularly concerned about sexism in children's TV and in the marketing of toys. Granddaughter Kelly Watkins is a journalism major at the University of Montana. As a child she would point out instances of sexism to Ginny. Daughter-in-law Kathryn Hammond is Vice President of Priority Publications, a national custom publishing firm ( whose mission is financial and healthcare literacy. Kathryn supports domestic violence victims as a volunteer through The Women's Foundation and Cornerstone.



back row from left: Kimberly, Lisa, Grace, Jean Tobin
front: Leanna Marie

Grace Ripa. Welch (page 487, Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975) is shown with all the females in her family:

Granddaughter, Kimberly Grace Hair, attends SUNY New Paltz as a freshman, pursuing a career in Speech Pathology; daughter, Lisa, teacher's assistant at Bayport Schools; Grace, Co-President Mid-Suffolk (Long Island) NOW chapter; daughter, Jean Tobin. Jean has a Ph.D. in World Peace from Maharishi European Research University and is a teacher of Transcendental Meditation (

From 2004-2006 Jean was the Director of The Raj, Fairfield, Iowa, ( a world renowned in-residence Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center. She is currently involved in establishing Consciousness Based Schools for Girls ( and in the U.S. and around the world, and is participating in the Invincible America Assembly ( demonstrating the benefits which can be afforded any country when the TM-Sidhi Program is practiced in a group.

Front and center is granddaughter, Leanna Marie Hair, 6 years old, happy to be in first grade!

Grace also has a son, Michael Ripa Welch, who is a sales executive with a Brooklyn firm.