A former Davenport teacher is among only three Iowa women who have earned the 2023 Iowa Women of Achievement Award for their contributions, a news release says.

Ethel “Marion” Helland, who taught in Bode and Davenport, is a Woman Lead Change honoree for the 2023 Iowa Women of Achievement Award.

Ethel “Marion” Helland (Women Lead Change)

“The Women of Achievement Award recognizes the contributions of historical Iowa women who made outstanding and lasting contributions to the citizens of Iowa, the nation, and/or the world,” a news release says.

Heather Allen (1980-2020)
Heather Allen was a nationally recognized research microbiologist whose scientific discoveries showing that bacteriophages (viruses which infect bacteria) can play a key role enabling the exchange of antibiotic-resistance genes in the swine gut microbiome – namely, the community of bacteria, viruses bacteriophages and other microorganisms that inhabit the animal’s intestinal tract. Her findings filled critical knowledge gaps about the swine gut microbiome and helped inform regulatory policies guiding agricultural practices to counter antibiotic resistance in both animal and human pathogens. 

Marion Ethel Helland (1927-2018)
Ethel “Marion” Helland was a teacher and Civil Rights activist. Marion grew up in Cylinder, Iowa and taught in Bode and Davenport schools. In 1965, Marion responded to an advertisement, “Teachers WANTED to Teach FREEDOM,” which led her to spend summer breaks in the South, where she worked on registering Black voters in Alabama and Mississippi, and worked on desegregation efforts after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Using her stories and photographs, Marion gave her students in the Midwest a first-hand account of what was happening during the Civil Rights Movement. 

Lulu Johnson (1907-1995)
Lulu Johnson was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in the state of Iowa in 1941 and the second Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in the United States. As the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Iowa with a Ph.D., Johnson was a trailblazer, paving the way for future students and battling racism and discrimination. In 2020, she became the new namesake of Johnson County. 

In addition to permanent plaques placed on the iconic Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines, friends and family are invited to celebrate at the awards luncheon, in conjunction with the WLC Conference on Oct. 18 at the Iowa Events Center. Register here.

IWLC d/b/a Women Lead Change is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to the development, advancement, and promotion of women, their organizations, and to impact the economy and future workforce. For more information visit here.