NOW-NJ president says health care,
pay remain top issues
BARBARA S. ROTHSCHILD • STAFF WRITER • January 18, 2011
Rita Spaulding, president of the New
Jersey chapter of the National Organization for
(Jose F. Moreno/Courier-Post)
Hometown: Berlin Borough
Family: Married, one daughter and two sons
Career: Has taught in N.J. public schools for the
past 17 years and currently teaches reading at Herma
S. Simmons Elementary School in Clayton.
NOW positions: President, NOW-NJ, Nov. 2010-present;
NOW-NJ state board member and delegate representing
South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul Chapter; past president,
past membership co-chairwoman and Lesbian Rights
Task Force member, South Jersey NOW-Alice Paul
Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education
from Rider University; Master's degree in reading,
certifications in special education and supervision
from Rowan University.
MOORESTOWN — A
daughter of South Jersey is poised to reverse the fortunes of
the National Organization for Women's New Jersey chapter.
Rita Spaulding, a member of the Moorestown-based South Jersey
NOW-Alice Paul Chapter, was elected president of the statewide
group in November. The Berlin Borough resident defeated
North Jersey incumbent Maretta Short for the top job.
Her eight-member board — which includes an unprecedented four
members from her 265-member local chapter — wants to set
priorities and put NOW-NJ back on the map during members'
Like many nonprofit groups in the current economy, the
organization is facing fiscal issues and recently had to give up
its Trenton office. With 2,220 members, NOW-NJ also has
experienced a decrease in membership — perhaps due in part to a
complacency among younger women for whom gender battles no
longer exist, thanks to gains made by previous generations.
For Spaulding, who grew up in Edgewater Park, it seemed like the
most natural thing in the world to gravitate to NOW.
"I always wanted to be in education or work in civil rights,"
said Spaulding, who teaches reading in a Clayton elementary
school. "Early on, the issues that feminism stands for
She was sensitized to women's issues as a teenager, when several
of her friends needed abortions and she agreed it was the right
choice for them. Spaulding also felt strongly about equal
pay for women and was overcome by "a sense of equality for
She first joined NOW in the 1980s, while living in North Jersey.
When she moved back to South Jersey, Spaulding joined the
since-disbanded Elizabeth Haddon NOW affiliate before becoming
active in the Alice Paul chapter in 1993.
She initially got involved as a volunteer escort for the Cherry
Hill Women's Center, where she continues to serve, and was the
chapter's co-president for three years.
The married mother of a daughter and two sons, Spaulding has
served on the Lesbian Rights Task Force and as a member of NOW-
NJ's board. She is a member of South Jersey NOW's Hall of
Fame and the first South Jersey president of the state
organization since Glassboro's Elizabeth Volz left office in