Next time you visit Cushing Library on the Holy Names campus, look for the display case in tribute to HNU alumna Margaret Mealey, Class of 1933. Above, she is pictured (in the white hat) with President John F. Kennedy at the 1963 signing of the Equal Pay Bill for Women.
Ms. Mealy worked as the Executive Director for National Council of Catholic Women in Washington, DC for many years and was a member of President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women.
In 1949, Ms. Mealey was appointed executive director of the National Council of Catholic Women and moved to Washington, D.C.
The council, an umbrella group for some 5,000 Catholic women’s groups in the United States, was established in 1920 by the U.S. bishops. Ms. Mealey retired in 1977 and moved back to Oakland, settling in the family home.
During her career, Ms. Mealey served on prestigious panels and commissions. She was an observer at the Second Vatican Council, was appointed by Pope Paul VI to the Pontification Commission of the Council on the Laity and served as its delegate to meetings of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.
In the 1960s, Ms. Mealey was a member of President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women; she later was appointed by Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford to their respective Citizens’ Advisory Councils, and by President Carter to the National Commission on International Women’s Year.
In the early 1960s, Ms. Mealey founded and became treasurer of Women in Community Service, an amalgam of several prominent nonprofit groups trying to help the poor.
“She was very much engaged in the war on poverty during the 1960s,” said Annette Kane, who served as the NCCW’s executive director from 1985 to 2002. “The objective of WICS was to lift young women out of poverty. She was really a leading force in that.”
Ms. Mealey was also a delegate to White House conferences that studied issues dealing with children, the elderly, and food and nutrition. Later in her life, she was vice chair of the development committee at Mercy Retirement & Care Center in Oakland, where she died.