Learn More About Helen Rodriquez-Trias and Eunice Corfman
In honor of her lasting contribution to the women's health movement and her broader efforts for justice and social change, the Network has named its leadership development program after Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias. Helen was a member of the Network's board of directors from 1988-1996 and spoke movingly about the importance of the Network's work with young women. The Network's project, now called the Helen Rodriguez-Trias Women's Health Leadership Program, brings 12-15 young women to Washington DC each year. Women participating in the program see first hand what it takes to work on social change issues in a small advocacy group and are given many opportunities to develop their leadership skills. Modest stipends are provided so that women of diverse economic backgrounds can take advantage of the program. Typically, one third of the participants have been women of color.
Helen Rodriguez-Trias was instrumental in many feminist actions designed to improve women's health. She was at the founding meeting of the women's caucus of the American Public Health Association, which she later led as the association's first Latina president. Helen co-founded the Campaign to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA) which led to federal guidelines requiring that women's consent be obtained in a language they understood, be documented in writing, and that surgeons observe a waiting period after obtaining a woman's consent to the operation. Helen led the New York State AIDS Institute in the late 1980s and from that position advocated for policies that addressed the needs of women with HIV. Helen became a physician when she was 31 years old, the same year she gave birth to her fourth child. By that time, she already had over a decade's worth of experience as an organizer, working on issues ranging from students' rights to Puerto Rican nationalism. In January 2001 Helen received a Presidential Citizens Medal from President Clinton for her work on behalf of women, children and people with AIDS. During Helen's visit to the White House, her young granddaughter took advantage of the chance to give President Clinton a handwritten letter asking him to stop the bombing of Vieques. It's in that spirit of nurturing the activism of young women that the Network has chosen to honor and remember Helen Rodriguez-Trias who passed away in December 2001.
For a full biography on Helen Rodriguez-Trias, click here.