Debra Ness (’79) to Become President of National Partnership for Women and Families

April 6, 2004 @ 4:00 am

CUSSW Alumna to succeed Judy Lichtman

In a press release issued by the National Partnership for Women and Families:

WASHINGTON, D.C. The National Partnership for Women & Families will usher in a new generation of leadership when Debra Ness becomes its President on July 1. The venerable organization is well known for leading the successful campaign to enact the Family & Medical Leave Act, convincing California lawmakers to adopt paid family leave, pressing for judges who will protect the rights of women and minorities, and advocating for quality, affordable health care. Judith L. Lichtman, who has led the National Partnership, formerly the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, for three decades, is stepping down. Ness has served as its Executive Vice President for the last 13 years.

“Judy Lichtman is a legend in this nation a pioneer who is respected by allies and opponents alike for her fierce determination to make progress for women and their families, her brilliant leadership and reasoned voice,” said National Partnership Board Chair and EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm. “We all have mixed emotions right now. While Judy has been an extraordinary leader for us, we are absolutely thrilled that Debra Ness has agreed to take the post. Debra has the knowledge and experience we need, along with fresh ideas and vast energy. She is exactly the right leader for the National Partnership at this moment in history.”

“I could not be happier for the National Partnership and the women and families we represent,” Lichtman agreed. “Debra will continue and expand our agenda, bringing new skills and strategies to all our work.”

“This is an incredible honor,” Ness said. “I have tremendous shoes to fill. This organization has a proud and storied past, and I am determined that its future will be equally distinguished. We will continue to promote family-friendly workplaces, quality affordable health care, and fairness and justice for every woman and man, while working on new issues that matter deeply to women and their families. We will put real energy into passing a federal paid sick leave bill. We will employ new tactics to encourage more states to adopt paid family and medical leave. And we will work tirelessly to ensure accountability, transparency and affordability in our health care system, so that women have the information they need to make the best health care decisions.”

Lichtman will continue to play a role with the National Partnership as senior advisor, and to work in the political arena, write and enjoy her family. Her first grandchild is about to be born. “I intend to be the most active 63-year-old in the world,” she said. “I pride myself on leaving behind a strong organization that has made a genuine difference in women’s lives. We are creating a smooth transition and handing the reins to someone who has extraordinary talent and vision. Debra is fully prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

Lisa Ferri
April 6, 2004