An international organization that advances women’s leadership across careers, cultures and continents has named NAU President Emerita Clara Lovett a 2011 Woman Who Makes a Difference.

Lovett is among a select group of women worldwide to receive the honor this year from the International Women’s Forum, which recognizes women “who make a difference and are game changers and icons across disciplines and who grow prospects for women and girls in their communities and beyond.”

Lovett will be honored Oct. 28 during the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame Gala in Washington, D.C.

Lovett served from 1994 to 2001 as the 13th president of Northern Arizona University and is the first woman to hold the top post at one of the three Arizona state universities.

“Clara Lovett has long been admired for her extraordinary contributions to education here in Arizona certainly, where she served as president of NAU, but nationally as well,” said Sue Clark-Johnson, president of the Arizona Women’s Forum. “She has served both the state and international forums with dedication and deep conviction. In Arizona we consider her one of our state treasures.”

Born in northeast Italy, she received her undergraduate education in English and German at the University of Trieste and at Cambridge University in England. She came to the United States in 1962, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in history at the University of Texas, Austin.

Lovett’s accomplishments as a scholar have been recognized through fellowships and grants from organizations such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her extensive record of public service includes work with the Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Information Agency, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges, numerous corporate boards in the fields of banking and technology and other agencies.

In 1989, she was named by Washingtonian magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women” in Washington, and in 1992 the Virginia Federation of Business and Professional Women selected her as Educator of the Year. In 1993, the American Association for Higher Education invited her to head a national project on faculty work.

Following her retirement from the NAU presidency, Lovett became president of the American Association for Higher Education. In that role, she advocated for expanded access to higher education, diversity in curriculum and staffing and effective use of technology in instruction and institutional operations.

Six other women also are being honored this year as Women Who Make a Difference:

  • Leah Chase, venerated “queen of Creole cuisine” and James Beard Hall of Fame Honoree (Louisiana)
  • Martha P. Farmer, honored women’s advocate and founding director/executive director of Leadership America (Kentucky)
  • Cheong Koon Hean, urban transformer and CEO of the Singapore Housing and Development Board (Singapore)
  • Wilhelmina Holladay, arts patron and co-founder of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.)
  • Hennou Allali Maamar, national women’s health advocate (Morocco)
  • Guadalupe Rivera Marin, celebrated arts leader (Mexico)