The woman who inspired and served as namesake to this fledgling organization is Victoria Woodhull, a nineteenth-century feminist who was the first woman stockbroker on Wall Street; the first woman to produce her own newspaper; and the first woman to run for President of the United States. Victoria Woodhull was a fearless lobbyist, businesswoman, writer and investor who advocated for a woman’s equal status in the workplace, political arena, church and family.
Victoria Woodhull was in some ways like the Susan B. Anthonys and Elizabeth Cady Stantons of her time. Like them, she advocated for the full education of daughters, foregoing the 19th century belief that daughters, mothers and wives should be silent ‘angels of the house,’ submissively catering to men’s needs. Like them, she called for a vote and a voice. But there the resemblance ends — for she was in many ways a quintessentially modern woman, and far ahead of her time. She spoke frankly of the need for women to take control of their reproductive life and health — so frankly that she was not received in the most respectable drawing rooms, even of the feminist movement of her day. Even her language differs sharply from that of her well-meaning sisters in the suffrage movement: where they were often circuitous and genteel, Woodhull had no patience for mincing words; every speech was ablaze with bold honesty as she savagely criticized Victorian hypocrisies and political inequities that stifled the human spirit and suffocated the light of women’s contributions to their larger world.
Two centuries later, The Woodhull Institute would like to inspire and create more empowered Victoria Woodhulls by providing women with the skills needed to attain and excel at leadership roles. Like Ms. Woodhull, who stunned her nineteenth-century community with her brazen feminist advocacy, the Woodhull Institute has the equally bold goal to guarantee that all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, sexual preference, or religious and political affiliation, can achieve their highest dreams.