OBITUARY—Dr Claire Fulcher, who has worked tirelessly for BPW for almost 30 years, has passed away. Claire holds a very special place within BPW International and equally so outside of our organization. There can be no bet-better role model for a business and professional woman. Dr Claire Fulcher was a counselling psychologist and organizational consultant in private practice since 1973. In her professional experience Claire was the Dean of Women, Associate Dean of Students and Professor of Education at the University of Bridgeport from 1954-1973. Claire’s work with BPW began long before she was appointed as our permanent UN representative in 1982. One of the highest awards in BPW is the Badge of Honour which was presented by our past president Dr Antoinette Ruegg at the Congress in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2005. Additionally she was honoured in 2008 for 20 years of work and as the founding member and convener of the NGO Committee of UNIFEM 1988-1994. She has attended many of the BPW International Congresses and conferences around the world following in the footsteps of her predecessor Esther Hymer. Claire is a great friend to all our past international presidents having served in their presidential terms and to many, many BPW members worldwide.
Tribute to Past Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
Dr Claire Fulcher
Dr Claire Fulcher was an extraordinary woman who passed away on the 15 of November 2012. She was Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York for BPW International, a position which she served for almost thirty years before her retirement in 2008.
She was one of the great giants to have served BPW International helping to shape our involvement at the United Nations, after taking over from Esther Heymer.
Amongst her notable achievements Claire served as the first Convenor of the NGO Committee on UNIFEM (after Esther Hymer laid the foundations to establish this) and founded the NGO Committee on Mental Health (New York) in 1996 under the auspices of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO) in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The creation of this Committee fostered a strong collaboration between NGOs that has strengthened the efforts to bring understanding and appreciation of Mental Health issues to the global agenda at the United Nations. Claire contributed to many other non-governmental organizations including: AAUW, VGIF, IAUW and others.
For me (and those fortunate enough to have known her) Claire will always be remembered for her generosity of spirit and for her ability to bring out the very best in all that were fortunate to cross her path.
I first met Claire with IPP Liz Benham at my very first international congress in Vancouver, Canada. As a Young BPW, that congress was a life changing experience in many ways and my life since has been richer for having met Claire. I was instantly drawn by her enthusiasm and engagement of the UN and the following year my connection to the UN began, being invited by Claire to participate in a side event organized during CSW with me facilitating discussions! There is nothing like the experience of just in time or real time learning….and in BPW, we all quickly learn to be experts at this!
Claire instilled in me a passion for the BPW-UN connection and the many conversations we had where she passed on her knowledge and energy for this work made my time on the BPW International Executive even more fulfilling. Her drive motivated me to carry on her work and the fifty third Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 53) held in 2009 will always be memorable to me. I wanted BPW International to take the next step in its work advancing the status of women and 2009 was the year that I would implement my action plan serving as Vice President United Nations and Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women. It became the defining moment for BPW and was the beginning of consultations and events around what would later become the join initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business (WEPs). It enabled BPW to secure its place as Gender Expert and to align strategically with the business arm of the UN. Georg Kell – Executive Director UN Global Compact – would later refer to BPW International as the international organisation bringing the voice of women to business.
The first of recommendations was to launch the Claire Fulcher Dinner which President Liz Benham inaugurated in 2009 and the following year marked BPW International’s 80th year of empowering women. To commemorate our milestone and the 15th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference in 2010, we launched the BPW CSW Handbook – a tool for members to contribute to CSW sessions.
There is nothing more powerful than an strong mentor or role model that can inspire us to stand as Empowered Women Leading Business – from the top, at all levels and in the communities in which we serve and live.
Claire meant the world to me as she would have to most of you. In her spirit and her energy, she embodied the finest qualities of BPW International. She was my mentor, teacher, supporter and dear friend. Her belief in me allowed me to serve and carry out major work that has strategically positioned BPW as “Gender Expert” at a pivotal time in the history of the UN and BPW. This first mover advantage that was identified will always be a defining point in our history as it realigned our mission with a clear, focused, vision uniting the BPW worldwide footprint and underpinned by 3 core policy based initiatives.
Dr Claire Fulcher’s spirit will live on through the work of BPW at the United Nations, especially our advocacy during the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings and the work of other NGOs she dedicated her life to contributing. Her example of kindness, humility and caring for others was constant. She was not only committed, she led others to commitment. BPW members have lost an amazing BPW member. The annual Claire Fulcher Dinner is her living legacy (named in her honour) and we invite you to join us at a noteworthy memorial in New York during CSW 57.