Skip to main content

Paul, Dorothy, 1927-



  • Existence: 1927-

Human rights activist and educator Dorothy Marion Bouleris Paul was born in Cohoes, New York, in 1927 to Elizabeth Frances Quinn Bouleris and Joseph Napolean Bouleris, a mechanic who was unemployed at times during the Depression. Dorothy Bouleris, the second of four children, graduated from Catholic Central High of Troy, New York, in 1944 and then worked at various secretarial jobs for nine years. She married physician David M. Paul in 1953, and the couple moved to Iowa City where David Paul joined the medical faculty of the University of Iowa. The Pauls raised two children: Phillip, born in 1954, and Elizabeth, born in 1957.

Dorothy Paul entered the University of Iowa where she completed a BA in general studies with a concentration in global studies in 1981 and an MA in American studies in 1984. Her graduate work focused on Third World women in the United States.

Paul became involved in the United Nations Association of the United States of America ( UNA-USA) in 1965 as a volunteer for the United Nations International Children's Educational Fund (UNICEF). She served as president of the Iowa City chapter of UNA-USA from 1972 to 1974, and was named executive director of the Iowa Division in 1979, a position she held for over twenty years. Following her resignation in 2000, Paul continued to serve the UNA-USA Iowa Division as chair of the program committee.

UNA-USA (known as the American Association for the United Nations until 1964) is a national organization dedicated to strengthening the United Nations and enhancing U.S. participation in international institutions. Paul stated in a 1990 speech that UNA-USA carries out its mission through a combination of "public outreach, policy analysis, and international dialogue." UNA-USA consists of a network of over 150 regional chapters and divisions, and belongs to the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), which is composed of chapters from over fifty nations.

The UNA-USA Iowa Division began in 1953 after Eleanor Roosevelt, at the invitation of Dorothy Schramm, visited Iowa and spoke in Des Moines. Several local chapters were soon established across the state; the Iowa Division held its first Annual Assembly in 1955 and began publication of its newsletter, Iowa UNA Forum, in 1964. The UNA-USA Iowa Division also developed two annual statewide programs?Model UN and the Iowa Youth Symposium.

During Dorothy Paul's tenure as executive director, the UNA-USA Iowa Division organized numerous local and international conferences, and conducted several major studies. Paul emphasized the connection between global and local issues and actions in her speeches and essays about the work of the UNA-USA Iowa Division, and through the structure of the forums and conferences she organized. The executive director of the national programs of the UNA-USA praised Paul's work by stating, "The Iowa Division annual report [for 1991] is in a class by itself, not only because of its heft, but because of the truly outstanding work that it documents."

Paul's work reflects her interest in women's issues. She attended several UN conferences on women (including Copenhagen, 1980; Nairobi, 1985; and Beijing, 1995), and participated in "feminist" tours of China and Scandinavia. These tours, organized by Meg Bowman, a sociology professor at San Jose State College, highlighted women's work and their international connections.

Paul networked with many local organizations including the University of Iowa Women in Development Committee, the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and the Iowa City Human Rights Commission. She played a central role in organizing local programs to celebrate International Women's Day for many years. In 2000, following her resignation as executive director of the UNA-USA Iowa Division, Paul took a volunteer position with the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. From 2002 to 2004, she coordinated the local Spring Walk for Women in Afghanistan, a program initiated by the United States Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM/USA).

Paul has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. In 1995, she received the Arnold Goodman Award from UNA-USA at the national convention in New York. The UNA-USA Iowa Division bestowed on her its highest award, the Scroll of Honor, in 2001. Numerous local organizations, including the Emma Goldman Clinic, the Iowa City Human Rights Association, and the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, have also honored Paul for her contributions to furthering women's and human rights.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Dorothy Paul papers

Identifier: IWA0349
Abstract Iowa City peace activist and educator who was executive director of the UNA-USA Iowa Division from 1976 to 1996.
Dates: 1955-2014