Violet RICHARDSON-WARD, founder member and first president of the Soroptimist International organization was born in Summit, New Jersey on August 27, 1888 and died at the age of 90 in Danville, California. She was the daughter of British immigrants who settled in the US in 1885. 

After completing, in 1916, her master degree in health and physical education, she started her teaching career being faced to the existing salary discrimination towards women. Equal pay for women became her first fight! 

Pioneer in physical culture she worked tirelessly all her life for people to understand the importance of health and physical education for young people, especially for young women.

In 1921, renowned for the work she accomplished, she was invited by Stuart Morrow (professional organizer of Rotary’s clubs) to join a new organization for women still under creation: an organization about service, about professional and businesswomen aiming to become an international organization: SOROPTIMIST meaning “the best for women”.  Violet Richardson was installed as the charter president of the first Soroptimist Club on October 3, 1921.

As president of Soroptimist club, she worked hard to form other Soroptimist clubs throughout California, the United States and Canada. Throughout her whole life she remained very active in multiple civic-activities and non-profit work which took her widely beyond her Soroptimist activities, standing up to protest inequalities or to implement her ideas.  Looking over her long life one could say that “she made a difference”…for young women.


Her work in Soroptimist is best summarized by the statement she made at the end of her presidency:

Let us continue the work together and with others, toward the development of a better womenhood, a better manhood and a better citizenship.”

(link to SI History...) 

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