2019 PHOEBE SEHAM AWARD HONOREE
Nancy Ferer is an unassuming heroine and champion of women’s rights in Bergen County. While Women’s Rights Information Center is celebrating its 45th year, Nancy is one of the few who can claim roots with our founder, Phoebe Seham. Nancy first became involved with the Center when WRIC was trying to help daughters of women who were given DES (diesthylstilbetrol, a synthethic estrogen), while they were pregnant. This drug was thought to prevent miscarriages; however, it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in the female offspring. Daughters of women who took this drug then had problems conceiving, among other health issues. These daughters became infamously known as “DES babies”. Legend has it that this was a pivotal issue that drove Phoebe and others around her to build Women’s Rights Information Center. While this was the issue that harnessed Nancy’s initial connection to WRIC, Nancy was hooked and stayed in touch with WRIC and became a lifelong Community Change Maker. When the Phoebe Seham Award was created, it was with women like Nancy in mind!
Nancy began helping with a Women's History Library project, and eventually she started running a Women's Diversity Book Group. In the late 90’s Nancy was asked to join the Board of Directors based on her leadership work for League of Women Voters, DES Action-New Jersey, American Association of University Women and other organizations. She co-chaired a March 8 Women's Day event and organized many other events held at the Center over her tenure. For many years, Nancy served as Recording Secretary and is an integral Trustee on the Board Governance Committee. She has also chaired the Community Outreach and Education Committee and served on the Facilities Committee. Not content to rest on her laurels, Nancy is working to form a Program Committee.
In addition to her Board roles, Nancy currently volunteers at the Center by tutoring people who want help passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) to get their High School Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED) and she continues to hold her well attended monthly book groups.
With altruism at the heart of Nancy’s life, she has also taught ESL with Greater Bergen County Community Action Partnership and Bergen County Technical Schools. She has also volunteered with Spring House, Bergen County’s residential treatment center for women recovering from addiction. She is also the Philanthropy Co-chair of Woman’s Club of Englewood; this club combines Nancy’s deep affection for history and women’s issues. The Woman's Club is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1895, and donates scholarships to local students for college as well as donating to 22 local charities, including Women’s Rights Information Center.
Nancy holds a BA degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also earned a NJ Teaching Certificate in Social Studies, as well as NJ Teaching Certificates in ESL and English from Montclair State University. As a consummate life student, Nancy is currently earning an additional Associate Arts Degree in Women’s Studies at Bergen Community College. Years of professional experience as an editor and journalist have enhanced Nancy’s ability to positively contribute in all her activities.
Nancy resides in Englewood with her husband of more than 48 years, William; her millennial son, Robert, is her proud supporter. Nancy says, “I want to empower women to fulfill their dreams.” In our opinion, Nancy is the perfect recipient of 2019 Phoebe Seham Award in this 45th year of Women’s Rights Information Center.