Teresa Younger

Teresa Younger, the executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, is resigning to lead the Ms. Foundation for Women, the nonprofit founded by Gloria Steinem and others at the height of the feminist movement.

Younger will be introduced as the foundation’s new executive director Thursday night at Steinem’s 80th birthday party in New York. Her appointment was first reported by Crain’s New York Business.

“This is my dream job,” Younger said in a statement to Crain’s. “I feel it is a job I’ve been preparing for my whole life.”

Younger, 44, who lives in Shelton, is the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. She has been the head of the General Assembly’s commission on women’s issues for seven years. She will leave June 16.

“At this time of both feminist success and backlash against it, Teresa Younger is the perfect person to continue the grassroots strength of the Ms. Foundation, and build it into policy and protection against backlash,” Steinem said in a statement. “She knows how to make the needs of the majority of women into guiding principles of action.”

The Ms. Foundation and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women were founded within a year of each other in the early 1970s, as the U.S. involvement in Vietnam wound down and the equal rights movement for women took center stage.

The state legislature created the commission in 1973 to develop policies to promote equality opportunities for women.

Younger takes over the Ms. Foundation as women have come to dominate the ranks of the college-educated in the U.S., while lagging badly in top executive positions in U.S. corporations.

“Three-fourths of single parents in Connecticut are women, and more than half (56.1 percent) are in the labor force – many in low-wage service jobs,” Younger wrote in an op-ed piece for The Mirror last year. “Additionally, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.2 percent of female-headed households in our state with children under the age of 5 live below the poverty line. It’s clear that economic security is very much a women’s issue.”

She leaves a state that was the first to adopt laws creating a right to unpaid family and medical leave and paid sick days. The state also was the first to enact legislation creating a $10.10 minimum wage.

Under Younger, the commission has both criticized and praised the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat seeking re-election this fall.

The commission faulted him for failing to deliver on a promise to fill half his administration’s appointed posts with women. The panel says 34.4 percent of his appointees are women. But it praised his efforts to appoint more women to a judiciary that is 70 percent male.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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