Patricia Ireland Biography

Patricia Ireland (born October 19, 1945 in Oak Park, Illinois) is a U.S. administrator and feminist. She served as president of the National Organization for Women, from 1991 to 2001 and published an autobiography, What Women Want, in 1996.

Ireland attended DePauw University and obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee in 1966 and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1975. She also attended Florida State University College of Law.

Before becoming an attorney, Ireland worked as a flight attendant. She began her fight for women's rights in the 1960s when she discovered discrepancies in her insurance coverage. Her first victory came when the United States Department of Labor ruled in her favor, and she started her legal career doing volunteer work for the National Organization for Women.

She has advocated extensively for the rights of poor women, gays and lesbians, and African women. She has also advocated electing female candidates, and training people to defend clinics from pro-life protesters around the United States. On December 17, 1991 she gave an interview with The Advocate, a gay national publication, in which she stated that she was bisexual and had a husband and a female partner, Pat Silverthorn, a longtime activist in the Socialist Workers Party.

Ireland played a significant role in the brief 2004 presidential bid of former Senator Carol Moseley Braun.
In 2003, Ireland served for six months as the CEO of the YWCA. In October 2003, Ireland was dismissed after refusing to step down, although YWCA spokespeople denied that conservative pressure was a factor in the decision.