A Woman Who Changed the Face of the Conservative Movement

Editor’s note: We at HUMAN EVENTS are pleased to bring you this week a series of profiles from the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute​​​​​.  These are profiles of influential and prominent conservative women who have made a tremendous impact for the better on this great country.

In the 1980s, too many conservative groups looked like all-male organizations. Although the conservative movement was once stereotyped as a “group of little old ladies in tennis shoes,” the left exploited an opportunity by nominating an obscure woman, Geraldine Ferraro, for Vice-President and by clamoring for “women’s studies programs” in our schools.

One high-level Reagan Administration official, Michelle Easton, was confident conservative women could play a more crucial, perhaps decisive, role in public policy. She also believed that most American women were inherently conservative.

While she completed her years of service in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations, Easton decided to launch a conservative women’s group—the Clare Boothe Luce Public Policy Institute—that would balance the ideological scales.

Conservatives, including Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Nikki Haley, Condoleezza Rice, Marsha Blackburn, and Kristi Noem, personify the modern day conservative movement that Michelle Easton championed at the Luce Institute. The Institute eschewed taxpayer subsidies and quick gimmicks to get press. Instead the Easton-led group highlighted a new core of national leaders through Washington policy luncheons, campus lectures, seminars and even its famous annual calendar—“Great American Conservative Women”—featuring the country’s leading conservative women.

Easton also recruited top flight business executives Marji Ross, Kellyanne Conway, and Barb Kenney; veteran Washington hands Ursula Meese, Kate Obenshain, and Frank Donatelli; and beyond-the-beltway leaders Darla Partridge and Clare Luce to serve on the Clare Boothe Luce Board of Directors. Easton enlisted help from other top conservatives, including Becky Norton Dunlop, Bridget Wagner, Cleta Mitchell, Star Parker, S.E. Cupp and Kathryn Lopez, to create a reputation of hosting solid, conservative events.

Recently, David Horowitz honored Michelle Easton with the Freedom Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her public policy work. In addition to her accomplishments with the Luce Institute, Easton is an attorney, and mother of three boys, was the principal caregiver for her ailing parents and serves on several boards of other conservative organizations. Easton also served as the president of the Virginia Board of Education, where she authored and championed Gov. Allen’s acclaimed “Standards of Learning (SOLs).” Easton’s career changed the face of the conservative movement.