Annette Klang Smail

In the 1940s, Annette Klang Smail began her career as a social reformer by working for the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) in Chicago. Long an advocate of solutions to economic problems, she lobbied at the local, state and national levels against poverty, racism and gender discrimination. Ms. Smail spearheaded the grassroots efforts to have a bill passed in Congress to extend medical and pension benefits to divorced wives of men who had been in the military twenty years or more, overturning a Supreme Court case denying those benefits.

Ms. Smail was co-founder of the Novato Human Needs Center and served on its board for seven years. In 1980, she was selected as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, and in 1984, she was a member of the California Task Force on the Feminization of Poverty. She was the founder of the Older Women’s Political Caucus and served as its President from 1977 until 1995. Ms. Smail has long been a leader in the movement for gender equality on government commissions, and was instrumental in the creation in 1996 of the President’s Interagency Council on Women, which was designed to identify and eliminate laws and policies that hinder the lives of women. The recipient of the 1994 Eleanor Roosevelt Women of Vision Award, Ms. Smail actively supported a Marin Abused Women’s Services program to address the problem of domestic violence.