Dottie Lamm (MSW ’67), produced her first child the same year she earned her MSW, then turned quickly from the traditional practice of social work to politics and community. She was one of the founders of the Democratic Women’s Caucus of Colorado. She and her husband, former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm, had been advocates of women’s health and reproductive choice since 1963, when on their honeymoon in Peru, they saw maternity wards filled with women being treated for (and often dying of) botched, illegal abortions. Now, as a mother of two and the political spouse of a state legislator, she continued her pro-choice advocacy, which was considered very controversial at the time.
As First Lady of Colorado (1975-1987), Lamm used the platform this position gave her to encourage others to advocate for women’s health, quality childcare and the Equal Rights Amendment. She also wrote a column for the Denver Post (1979-1996) that, among other things, promoted gender equality and spoke for the “moderate feminist.” In 1981, she wrote extensively of her breast cancer, mastectomy and extended chemotherapy in order to inspire other women to take charge of their own health and to get mammograms early.
Before leaving the Governor’s Mansion, she and a group of other prominent women founded the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, which raised an endowment of two million dollars in a year and a half, and continues to be a huge voice for women and girls as it approaches its 25th year.
In 1994, Lamm was appointed by President Clinton as a delegate to the official U.S. delegation to the 1994 U.N. Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and to the 1995 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing. This political/negotiating experience prompted her to run for the U.S. Senate as Colorado’s Democratic nominee in 1998.
After her Senate campaign, Lamm returned to the University of Denver and taught courses on Population, Leadership and Risk Taking as the 1999/2000 Leo Block Fellow. That led to her “coming full circle” by returning to GSSW as an adjunct professor in the Community Track, where she taught classes on community organization and political advocacy. “At this point I’m trying to pass on what I have learned through a life of social work, politics, and journalism, and to inspire young people to take up some aspect of public service,” Lamm says. Recently she became a volunteer at a program for Somali immigrant children.
Having retired from teaching in 2006, Lamm still mentors young women considering political careers. She enjoys her three young grandsons, all of whom live in Denver, and in her spare time hikes, skis, swims, bikes and takes drawing lessons. Her latest book, Daddy on Board: Parenting Roles for the 21st Century, was published by Fulcrum Press in November 2007.
Presently Lamm works with a Philadelphia organization, ThirdPath Institute, which, through phone conferences, helps parents negotiate “shared care” of dependents and encourages businesses to become more family- friendly. Her latest interest is in boys: how they are falling behind academically, what this trend may mean and what can be done about it.