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The late Linda Smith Dyer, J. D

Linda Smith Dyer

Linda Smith Dyer, lawyer and activist, was a founder of the Maine Women's Lobby. In 1977 Linda traveled to the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, having been elected at a state meeting to be one of 19 women representing the state of Maine at this prestigious national conference. The following year she helped organize a statewide conference in Augusta to discuss the needs of Maine women. During the 1970's, in addition to supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, Linda Smith Dyer lent her support to innovative legislative reforms that would have provided assistance to displaced homemakers and victims of domestic violence, breakthrough issues that the Maine Legislature had never previously been confronted with. In 1977-78, several bills, including funding for domestic violence programs, were not enacted in the waning days of the Legislative session even though the bills had widespread public support and unanimous conunittee endorsements. Linda and a small group of Maine women decided that their lack of permanent presence at the State House would not be repeated. Consequently, Linda Dyer sent out a call to arms to other activists to organize a Maine "Women's Lobby," the purpose of which would be to create a fulltime presence for women in the halls of the Maine Legislature and to put an end to the death-by-neglect of major pieces of legislation significant to women in the notorious late night bargains reached at the "Appropriations Table" or through closed-door back-room deals.

In 1978 Linda Dyer, with two other women (Janet Mills and Lois Reckitt) who had attended the Houston and Augusta conferences, organized the Maine Women's Lobby, a one-of-a-kind non-profit membership organization, unique in the nation, based on $2 dues, extremely low overhead, and a less than shoestring budget. The first Board of the Maine Women's Lobby hired a fall time, professional lobbyist to represent the views of Maine women at the State House and Legislature. The Lobby has funded a full time lobbyist at the Maine Legislature since 1979.

Under Linda's leadership and as a result of her dedication, the Lobby has become one of the most successful organizations of its type in the nation and has had an enduring impact on the lives and health of women in Maine. In the last 22 years the Lobby has not only survived but endured and flourished, developing a longstanding reputation as a thoughtful, knowledgeable and powerful presence in the halls of the State House.

Linda is an attorney and graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. She has been an active member of the Bar and served as President of the Maine State Bar Association in 1998. As Bar President, Linda urged women attorneys to become more involved and assume leadership roles in an organization and profession dominated by men. Through her own positive example, she demonstrated to women both within and outside the profession that hard work and commitment could make a difference.

Linda is 52 and grew up in Monmouth, Maine. She lives in Winthrop with her husband, Charles Jacobs, and daughter Lauren Jacobs. She has twin sons from a prior marriage, Rick and Skip Dyer, both of whom were high school Merit Scholars and graduates of Stanford University.

1998 Photograph

Inducted March 2001