Sue Ellen Follon


Sue Ellen Follon

"Sue's extraordinary leadership was her ability to empower others to succeed.."-Mary Jean Montgomery

Volga native Sue Ellen Follon was a visionary leader and advocate for women. The Des Moines Register described her impact in this way: "You may never have heard her name, but there's a good chance she has touched your life." From 1976 through 1984, Follon was the executive director of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. She worked to expand the Commission's influence and scope by revising rape and sexual abuse laws; holding public hearings on domestic abuse, displaced homemakers, and the feminization of poverty; sponsoring a conference and brochure on Title IX; and leading Iowa to become the first state in the nation to take legislative action to address inequities in many facets of life. Follon then went on to become the first woman to serve as Vice President at the University of Northern Iowa. As the Vice President of Educational and Student Services, she supervised nine departments to help ensure the quality of student life. The hallmarks of her leadership were student-centeredness and leadership development. She was active in her community, working with civic groups, businesses, and local government. She made over 150 presentations from the local to the international level on the subjects of Women's equality, leadership, higher education, and mentors for women and minorities. Follon earned a doctorate in higher education administration from Drake University in 1983. Born in 1942, Follon died on November 4, 1998, the day after voters passed the equal rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution. Follon was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2002.