Cynthia (Cindy) Pearson recently retired after a life-long career as a women’s health activist.
Her activism began at a feminist health center in California, continued as an
abortion rights organizer in Colorado, and culminated in Washington, DC where she
served as the Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network for twenty-five years.
Cindy led the Network’s efforts to expand access to health care, improve research on
women’s health, and ensure that medical treatments were both effective and safe.
Founded in 1975, the Network was the first feminist health group to utilize a national
membership in support of DC-based health activism. The Network directed many
advocacy efforts at the Food and Drug Administration, resulting in unsafe products being
removed from the market, and the lifting of unnecessary barriers to contraception and
Cindy played a leading role in many important victories for women’s health, including
government funding of the Women’s Health Initiative, and the passage of the Affordable
Care Act. Cindy believes strongly in the power of grassroots activism to make change
and devoted herself to efforts that built power by bringing together like-minded
individuals and groups. In that spirit, Cindy was a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices
for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative that worked to make sure women’s
concerns were addressed in health care reform.
Cindy received the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation in 1995 for sustained advocacy
in deepening the Agency’s understanding of women’s health concerns and advancing
regulatory policies. In recognition of the NWHN’s leading role in advocating for the
creation of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and providing guidance
thereafter, Cindy was presented with the Keystone Award for Advocacy for Women’s
Health Research on the 20th anniversary of the Office.
Cindy was recently selected as a Consumer Representative for the FDA’s Obstetrics and
Gynecology Devices Panel, which provides expert advice to the agency.