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Commission for Women

Montgomery County Women's History Archive:

40 Women of Historical Significance in Montgomery County

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Terry O'Neill


Terry O'Neill



Terry O’Neill, a feminist attorney, professor and activist for social justice, was elected president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in June 2009. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities. O’Neill oversees NOW’s multi-issue agenda, which includes: advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving constitutional equality for women.

O’Neill’s feminist activism began in the 1990s in the deep South where she served as president of Louisiana NOW and New Orleans NOW and as a member of the National Racial Diversity Committee. She is a past president of Maryland NOW and served on the NOW National Board twice, representing the Mid-South Region (2000-2001) and the Mid-Atlantic Region (2007-2009).

A former law professor, O’Neill taught at Tulane University in New Orleans and at the University of California at Davis, where her courses included feminist legal theory and international women’s rights law, in addition to corporate law and legal ethics. She has testified before committees in the Maryland House of Delegates and has written federal amicus briefs on abortion rights for Louisiana NOW, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

An experienced political organizer, O’Neill has worked on the campaigns of candidates for U.S. President, and helped elect Louisiana’s first female U.S. senator. She worked to elect women’s rights supporters to judgeships and the state legislature in Louisiana, and on the County Council in Montgomery County, Maryland.

O’Neill holds a bachelor’s degree in French with distinction from Northwestern University and a law degree magna cum laude from Tulane Universi