- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- Sonia's write-up of her experiences with Hurricane Irma in Sarasota in September of 2017 appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine of July/Aug. 2018 in the Class Notes for her class, the class of 1950, on page 69.
- On March 20, 2018, Mary Wilson, president of the Greater Orlando, FL chapter of NOW, put the following write-up by Sonia on her blog.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories.
- Sonia participates in a one-hour webinar set up by the National Women's History Project (NWHP) on Jan. 13, 2016. 1) Click here to read about NWHP. 2) To listen to the oral comments and see the written comments, click on "webinar archive" toward the bottom of your screen. On the "webinar archive" screen, it is, however, very difficult to move the written comments up or down. 3) To get a clearer view of the written comments and to be able to move them up and down easily, click on "Chat Log." 4) Click on "Final PowerPoint Presentation" if you would like to see that.
- Sonia's article on the second wave of the women's movement: its origin, accomplishments, and the problems that remain--both in the U.S. and globally--appeared on June 14, 2015, on the website of the Institute for Science and Human Values.
- Sonia's write-up appeared on the Facebook page of the Red Star Line Museum commemorating the 81st anniversary of the arrival in the U.S. from Germany, via Belgium, of Sonia and the rest of her immediate family. (May 1, 2015).
- On Feb. 8, 2015, Sonia's article about her life went online on the website of Encore.org, a website that features articles by people about the second half of their lives.
- "The Night My Father Ran Away from His Own Wedding," the first chapter of Sonia's memoir, and "A Visit to Piltz," her article about her 2001 trip to the shtetl [village] in Poland where her parents were born, are on the website of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014 in Warsaw. Click on "Show More" at the bottom of each screen until you come to the screen with Sonia's two stories.
- "My Jewish Weekend in Sarasota," sent by Sonia to her friends, Nov. 16, 2014.
- "History Without Hitler?", Op-Ed in the New York Times and its international edition, October 26, 2014. This Op-Ed was written by Sonia's friend, Timothy Ryback, and edited by Sonia.
- "End of Life Issue," October 16, 2014.
- “Top 18 Issues Challenging Women Today,” The Shriver Report, May 5, 2014.
- Sonia’s letter of April 16, 2014, to Bishop Frank J. DeWane, bishop of the Venice, FL diocese, is on the blog of Bridget Mary Meehen.
- "Eighty-five Years Old in Sarasota County, Florida," write-up submitted by Sonia on April 12, 2014, on her life as a senior woman, to Marjorie Penn Lasky, who is writing a book on senior women today and how their lives differ from those of senior women in the past.
- “The Second Wave of the Women’s Movement—Past, Present, and Future,” Women You You Should Know website, March 26, 2014.
- Sonia reminisces about her three British feminist friends, March 25, 2014.
- Three-part series by Sonia in the Sullivan County Democrat, a newspaper in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
- Sonia’s submission to the book Mother Knows Better - Sense and Nonsense from American Moms by Patti Murphy is one of over two hundred momisms in the book.
- Sonia’s article about the travails of The Forward after Superstorm Sandy appeared in Der Bay (Vol. XXIII, No. II, Mar.-Apr. 2013, p. 12).
- NOW (National Organization for Women) Founder Sonia Fuentes Gives Back To Education.
- "A heart-healthy diet is easier to adhere to than it may seem, especially with plenty of grocery and restaurant choices in Sarasota," December 7, 2012. (To see this article, which first appeared in the online Sarasota News Leader, once the large picture appears, scroll down to the article.) On April 27, 2015, the article was published on the website of Vegan Everyday Stories. On May 22, 2015, a shortened version of the article appeared on the website of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- “A Journey of Discovery,” Sonia’s article about her September 2011 week’s trip to Germany exploring Jewish life in Germany, published in two parts.
- "Finding My Identity as a Feminist" - This article appeared in the online magazine, Identity, on September 21, 2011.
- "My Story" - This article appeared in HavaMag, Issue 4, August, 2011.
- To access the article:
- Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left.
- Click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10.
- When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.
- To access the article:
- "First Woman: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," appeared at the end of July 2011 in Ms. JD, an e-zine for women law students and lawyers.
- “Judging Our Future: Supreme Women Move Up,” about the increasing percent of women judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, went online in the Café section of On the Issues e-zine on December 21, 2010. In February of 2012, the article was added to the featured news & comments section of the website of Cornell University’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
- "Advancing Rights: 1964 Marks the Beginning of a New Era" - This article was published in On The Issues Magazine, Café section, on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women’s Equity Day, the 90th anniversary of suffrage, August 26, 2010.
- Sonia has written articles for Scitable, a website for women in science, or been introduced as a resource on women and employment law for Scitable, as follows:
- Sonia decries American women’s ignorance of the legal rights they have achieved since the early 1960s and lists those rights. (August 13, 2013)
- Sonia discusses breast implant ruptures and leaks. (Mar. 21, 2011)
- "Sonia Pressman Fuentes on Pregnancy Leave, Parental Care Leave, and the Law" - Sonia explains the law on leave and benefits in connection with pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. (July 28, 2010)
- Correction to posting of June 3, 2010, introducing Sonia as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 4, 2010)
- Sonia is introduced as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 3, 2010)
- "My Life After Divorce" - Sonia discusses her life after divorce for a “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. (2010)
- "A Negative Experience, A Positive Outcome" - The lucky day Fuentes was fired. (2009)
- "First Wedding at the Fontainebleau," an unpublished anecdote, November 23, 2008.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, Oct. 2009, and updated in Nov. 2013.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come—The Birth of A Yiddish Club,” published in Der Bay, The International Anglo-Yiddish Newsletter (Vol. XVII, No. 9, Nov. 2007). Sonia starts a Yiddish Club in Sarasota, FL. Also published in the Gantseh Megillah. (Nov. 14, 2007, Issue 8.10)
- "My Fortuitous Escape from the Holocaust and My Life Thereafter" - This article is published on a Web site called "Women and the Holocaust." (2006)
- “A Love Letter to Ostuni” (2005)
- "My Visit to Piltz" - A sequel to "A Visit to Piltz." (2005)
- "Three-hour Tour Turns Unforgettable" - This article, by Fuentes, recalling the saga of her trip to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford estates in Ft. Myers, FL, appeared in The East County Observer, a newspaper in East Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida, January 16, 2003.
- "I Lucky Everything: The Story of a Real `Miss Saigon'" - Along with a manicure, a reminder of how immigrants revitalize our nation. (2002)
- "A Visit to Piltz" - This article is about Fuentes' August 2001 journey to her parents' birthplace, a village called Piltz in Poland. (2001)
- In 2000, Sonia lectured on “How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life” at Cornell University and thereafter gave varying versions of that talk at other venues. Articles on that subject have appeared in: 120 HIAS Stories, a book published to commemorate the 120th anniversary of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) (July 2002), Women in Judaism, a Multidisciplinary Journal (April 2006), the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish News (January 2007), the website of the Museum of Family History, and Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs (Vol. XX, No. 1, Jan. 2010).
- "How I Built a Life in Retirement" - Sonia had a difficult time adjusting to retirement, and then she entered the best years of her life. (2000)
- "How I Published My Memoir: A Lawyer-Feminist's Story" - This is the story of the six years Fuentes spent in researching, writing, publishing and marketing her memoir and making the transition from being a lawyer to a writer and public speaker. (Also see: "How I Got Published in South Africa) (2000)
- "A Seder in Shanghai" - Fuentes participates in a seder in a most unlikely city, Shanghai, China. This piece appeared previously in JoyZine and on Harry Leichter's website. (1999)
- "HUD Goes to the Moscow Trade Show" - This article was originally published in Sparks 28. March - April, 1999. (1999)
- Breast Cancer and Ruptured/Leaking Breast Implants - The story of Fuentes' experience with breast cancer. (1998)
- "Three United States Feminists: A Personal Tribute" - This article is about Fuentes' most memorable encounters with Alice Paul, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Catherine East (1998). Later that year, a slightly different version of this article was published in Moondance.
- “Representing Women,” a 17-page article, originally published in Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies (Vol. 18, No.3, Nov. 3, 1997), by the Washington State University Press, is available by emailing Sonia at email@example.com and asking her to email it to you or by purchasing it at jstor.org. This was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights.
- "House of History" - A history of the Sewall-Belmont House, one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, is the story of the current headquarters of the National Woman's Party. (1996)
- "Magnolias" - A Washington, DC, love story. (1996)
- "Family Past Unfolds Like Detective Story" - Research Leads to Ship's Records, a Movie and Snapshots. (1995)
- “Impressions: The Status of Women in Southeast Asia,” published in the Common Law Lawyer (no longer in existence), Sept.-Oct. 1978. (To enlarge the print on machines using Windows, hold down the control button of your computer while moving the wheel of your mouse. If viewing through Adobe Acrobat, enlarge the text with the plus button, or use the percentage dropdown list.)
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
How I Built A Life In Retirement
Sonia Pressman Fuentes: Feminist Activist
Attorney Pens Memoir
Sonia Pressman Fuentes has received accolades and recognition for the work of a lifetime that had previously gone unnoticed except by feminists and a few friends. During her career, she served as the first woman attorney in the General Counsel's Office at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She was the highest-paid woman executive at the headquarters of two multinational corporations, GTE (Stamford, Connecticut) and TRW (Cleveland, Ohio). She was also a founder of the Second Wave of the women's movement, having been a founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) and Federally Employed Women (FEW). Currently, she serves on the Board of the National Woman's Party.
On May 29, 1993, the day before her 65th birthday, she returned from her retirement party at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to face the question: What did she want to do with the rest of her life?
"When the euphoria wore off, I became dejected. I realized that everything I'd worked for my entire life-from elementary school to high school to college to law school to thirty-six years of work experience-was over. At work, I had a structured environment: I left my house each morning by car and metro; worked from 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; frequently met friends for lunch and dinner, followed by a movie, lecture, concert, or theater performance. What would I put in place of all those activities?
"I had almost limitless options. Did I want to work as a volunteer? To travel? To take college courses? To move to another location? To find part-time or full-time employment? I had enough money to see me through just about anything I wanted to do, within reason. But what did I want to do?
"There followed a year of total confusion and trial-and-error attempts at various things, none of which worked out. I tried finding part-time and full-time employment: I answered help-wanted ads, attended Job Fairs for seniors, and contacted employment agencies in both the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, areas. I did not receive a single job offer.
"So, I assayed volunteer work: I spent several months training to be a volunteer with the Smithsonian Institution and worked at the Museum of Natural History for some time thereafter. Then I served as a volunteer attorney with the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission.
"I became depressed and began seeing a therapist regularly. It appeared that my life was over.
"I began to think about commemorating the historic role I'd played in the women's movement. But I didn't want to pour through all my papers and write a lengthy tome myself. So I embarked on a search for a writer to work with me. I spent a year in libraries, talking to friends, writing to publishers and writers' organizations, and meeting with writers. What I learned was that a writer would work with a non-celebrity only upon the payment of thousands of dollars. I was loath to invest that kind of money in a project that might never result in publication. A friend suggested I go to the library of the Foundation Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on foundations in Washington, D.C., to research information on grants. There I could learn how to apply for a grant, which I could then use to pay a writer.
"When I contemplated going to the Foundation Center, I knew I had come to the end of the road. I decided that if my trip to the Foundation Center didn't produce results, I would give up the idea of writing a book. So before I left for the Center, I spoke to God, something I rarely do. 'God,' I said, 'if you want this book written, you'll have to make it happen. I've done all I can do.'
"At the Center, I found that one needed expertise in order to apply for a grant. And I was not prepared to spend the time and money involved in familiarizing myself with this field. Mixed in among the brochures on grant seeking were a résumé and business card from a woman named Sara Fisher. She described herself as 'Writer, Editor, Proofreader.' I decided to call her.
"This was, after all, going to be the end of my efforts. We agreed to meet for coffee at Zorba's Café in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.
"At coffee, Sara and I chatted casually about our lives and about my interest in writing about my role in the Second Wave of the women's movement. And then she said something that changed my life: ‘That's not the book you want to write. You want to write a book of humorous stories about your parents, the kind of stories you've been telling me. And you want to write it yourself.’
"Her words reached me, and I decided to follow her advice. After all, I'd always wanted to be a writer. I just hadn't wanted to write. I went home and began to write the story of my parents' lives and my own.
"I spent the next 5½ years learning my new craft and researching and writing my book. I joined the International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG), the National Writers Union (NWU), and local writers' groups. I subscribed to the Writer's Digest and read books on writing. I took a course on writing a book at the Writers' Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and attended a two-week Elderhostel memoir writing program at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. I hired a lawyer who specialized in literary matters to review my book for possible invasion of privacy and libel issues.
"At the same time, I began to market my book-writing to magazine, e-zine, and book publishers and literary agents; and contacting libraries, colleges and universities, bookstores and book festivals, and organizations and clubs to set up speaking engagements and memoir readings. I ordered business cards and prepared a display of my book cover for memoir readings.
"While this was going on, I took a vacation to Sarasota, Florida. A friend who had moved there had been urging me to visit for years. I fell in love with Sarasota at first sight. It is a small town with big city amenities: it has a symphony orchestra, an art movie theater, other movie theaters, opera, and lectures and restaurants galore. I rented, and later bought, a condo there and created a second life for myself, with a new environment, new friends, and new activities.
"At the end of 1999, my memoir, Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, was published in paperback and hardback in the U.S. and as an e-book. In January 2001, it was published as a paperback in the U.K.
"The results have been beyond my wildest expectations."
Excerpts from Sonia Fuentes’ memoirs have been published in newspapers, journals, and magazines in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa; many are available on-line. Her book was used as a textbook at Cornell University and American University, and she addressed the classes using her book at both institutions. It was a thrill for her to return to Cornell fifty years after her graduation from that institution, and to enter a classroom where the professor and every student had her book at his or her desk.
At a gala reception and dinner-dance at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Sonia was one of four awardees given the Women at Work Award by Wider Opportunites for Women (WOW) for 1999. Prior awardees include Katie Couric, Jane Fonda, Linda Ellerbee, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In March 2000, Sonia was one of five women inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame and she was included in Women of Achievement in Maryland History, a reference book to be published in October 2002. She is included in the Gallery of Prominent Refugees at established by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
She is represented by a speakers bureau and is in constant demand for speaking engagements and memoir readings at colleges and universities, bookstores, libraries, genealogy societies, and other organizations.
Sonia reflects, "At first, nothing I tried in retirement worked out. When I gave up and opened myself up to new experiences, I entered the richest phase of my life."
This article has appeared in the following online publications:
©2000 by Sonia Pressman Fuentes.