Betty Jean Furgerson


"Betty Jean, for all her soft spoken, friendly demeanor, has a toughness of steel for causes she believes in."
—Karen K. Goodenow, 1990

Betty Jean Furgerson's life is epitomized as one of service and leadership, particularly in human rights, education, public television, and the arts. As director of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission since 1974, and in her volunteer capacities, she has been a strong and effective advocate for women and people of color. She is treasurer of the Regional Executive Council on Civil Rights, an organization comprising human rights agencies in a tri-state area. Her contributions to higher education include service on the Legislative Higher Education and Excellence in Education Task Forces, presidency of the Board of Directors of the Waterloo Community Schools, and membership on the Iowa Council on Vocational Education. She was one of the original members of the Iowa Department of Education's Multicultural, Nonsexist Curriculum Committee and aided in the formulation of the state policy that human relations training be a part of teacher preparation and relicensure. In 1989, Furgerson was appointed to the Iowa State Board of Regents. As president of the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board, she has directed policies for Iowa Public Television to assure quality alternative programming for Iowans. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1990.  

UPDATE: Furgerson has retired as the director of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission. Furgerson now serves as president of the Advisory Board to the University of Northern Iowa Leadership Studies Program and chair of Regents Affirmative Action Priority Study committee. She continues as a member of the Iowa Department of Education's Multicultural, Nonsexist Curriculum Committee, which is now called Educational Equity Committee, and was a member of the Iowa Literacy Academy.