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Peninsula Pioneers: Michigan Women Who Made a Difference

March is Women’s History Month

March may be Women’s History Month, but there’s no reason not to celebrate the notable accomplishments of women all year long, especially here in our women in leadership issue! In Michigan, there is no shortage of women who have stood up, stepped out and made a difference by planting their own flags in history.


Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby was born in Arcadia in Manistee County on the shores of Lake Michigan. She was the first woman in the United States to gain a pilot’s license, earning the distinction from the Aero Club of America in 1911. The following year, Quimby flew into history as the first woman to fly across the English Channel; however, her feat was overshadowed by news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


Cora Reynolds Anderson

Born in the northwest Upper Peninsula community of L’Anse, Cora Reynolds Anderson was the first woman and Native American to be elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. She was sworn into office in 1924, only four years after women gained the right to vote in the United States. She was passionate about fighting for health care in the state, especially against tuberculosis.


Serena Williams

Born in Saginaw, Serena Williams is considered one of the greatest female tennis players of all time. The Women’s Tennis Association ranked her the singles world No. 1 player on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017, including one stretch that lasted for 186 weeks. She’s also worked to help build schools in Africa and fund college scholarships for underprivileged students.


Merze Tate

Merze Tate was born in 1905 outside of Mount Pleasant and went on to become a leading professor, expert and scholar of U.S. diplomacy. She was the first African American to graduate from Western Michigan Teachers College, now Western Michigan University; the first Black women to attend Oxford University in England; and the first to earn a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University.


Andra Rush

Started in 1984 with three trucks and $15,000, Andra Rush built Rush Trucking into the largest female- and Native American-owned freight transportation company in North America. Headquartered in Wayne, Rush created over 1,000 Michigan jobs and has served on the U.S. Manufacturing Council advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.


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