The first woman to win statewide office in Missouri, she defied a Republican landslide in every other state election to become the Democratic lieutenant governor in 1984. She ran for the U.S. Senate twice in the 1980s; while both attempts failed, they inspired other women to run for public office, and sparked the formation of EMILY's List. (The progressive women's campaign fund's name stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast.") Woods served two terms as president of the National Women's Political Caucus and led the Clinton administration's Coalition for Women's Appointments in 1993.
(Born Ruth Harriett Friedman)