Change Champion: Frances Fox Piven

by Allison Mitchell | September 22, 2011 7:00 am

Tonight, we will honor six individuals and organizations for their work in social justice at the 2011 Community Change Champion Awards.  An honoree this evening, Professor Frances Fox Piven is a scholar-citizen, equally at home in the university and in the world of politics. Frances is the recipient of our 2011 Community Change Champion Award for activism.

She collaborated with the late George A. Wiley, the leader of the 1960s welfare rights movement in the United States, and developed the strategy that led to a liberalization of welfare in the 1960s. These reforms resulted in a major reduction in extreme poverty.

She was a founder in 1983 of Human SERVE, an organization that promoted the idea that if citizens were allowed to register to vote when they apply for aid from government programs or for drivers licenses, historic administrative obtacles on the right to vote could be overcome. Human SERVE’s approach was incorporated in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, popularly known as the “motor voter bill.”

Today, she is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center, CUNY, where her accomplishments as a scholar are intertwined with her political reform efforts.

To learn more about Frances and the other recipients of the 2011 Community Change Champion Awards, visit

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