Ex-congresswoman laments womens losses since 1992

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky wrote the book on the "year of the woman."

The author of the recently published "A Woman's Place…the Freshmen Women Who Changed the Face of Congress" also led the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing last fall.

Along the way, she won an Emmy as a broadcast journalist and raised 11 children.

But when Margolies-Mezvinsky dreamed of what she wanted to be when she grew up, a career in politics never occurred to her.

"There were remarkably few female role models in government back then," said the former Pennsylvania congresswoman, who chose not to run again in 1994.

Margolies-Mezvinsky will deliver the keynote address at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation's fourth annual Power of One dinner, the largest Jewish women's event in the Bay Area.

She is expected to draw more than 400 women to the JCF's Women's Alliance event Thursday, April 18 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

Speaking from her home in Bryn Mawr outside Philadelphia, Margolies-Mezvinsky called the 1992 election a campaign like no other. It was "a time in which record numbers of women from all walks of life had the chutzpah, the campaign money, and the community support to run for office."

As a congresswoman, Margolies-Mezvinsky sat on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, with subcommittee assignments on Oversight and Investigations and Telecommunications and Finance.

Despite the fast-changing face of Congress, Margolies-Mezvinsky refuses to believe that her year — the year of the woman — was a one-time fluke.

"It lasted 365 days and maybe we got too complacent thinking that we had made it…I am convinced that there are women who remain determined not to put up with the current political shift or shrinking number of women in Congress."

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a CBS News Foundation fellow at Columbia University, Margolies-Mezvinsky began her career as a television journalist at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. From 1971 to 1991, she was with NBC in both New York and Washington, D.C., and served as contributing correspondent to the "Today" show and "Real Life with Jane Pauley."

Five years after her award-winning series in 1970 on the plight of Southeast Asian war orphans, she married Congressman Edward Mezvinsky. They are raising their children as Conservative Jews. "I was raised in a Reform home and my husband grew up very Orthodox. We've settled on raising our children Conservative," she said.