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Nielsen, Joyce, 1933-



  • Existence: 1933-


Joyce Elaine Jensen Nielsen, feminist, activist, and legislator, was born in Askov, Minnesota, in 1933. She graduated from Cloquet High School in Cloquet, Minnesota, in 1951 and continued her formal education in a variety of settings. She took classes in child development and psychology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; investment management and insurance coursework at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and staff development seminars at Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, Iowa, and the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri. She also independently gained expertise in such varied fields as domestic violence victim advocacy, privacy investigation, and rental property management. Joyce Jensen married Eric Nielsen in 1955. They have one daughter, Cindy.

Nielsen coordinated neighborhood tutoring programs and worked as an Urban Center supervisor for the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) in Cedar Rapids from 1965 to 1976. In 1977, she started a number of companies that offered services ranging from group therapy to driver's education for newly single adult women. As president of Nielsen Financial Consultants, she directed a network of professional women who combined their skills to provide actuarial, insurance, legal, and financial advice to women in Iowa.

Although employed or self-employed in a variety of jobs, community service was the primary focus of her forty-year professional career. Â In 1969, Nielsen was a driving force behind the Cedar Rapids League of Women Voters' study of high school dropouts. Through the 1970s, she was an advocate for housing code reform and tenants' rights in Cedar Rapids. Nielsen was an early supporter of liberalizing Iowa's abortion laws (1970) and was involved with the YWCA Women's Emergency Shelter in Cedar Rapids and Planned Parenthood. Nielsen founded Women Unlimited in 1979, believing that women needed a resource to learn about financial investing. Through her activism, she gained additional experience in public speaking, grassroots organizing, and management. She won numerous awards for her distinguished record of community service.

In 1988, Nielsen was elected to the Iowa General Assembly as the Democratic State Representative for District Fifty in Cedar Rapids. During her tenure as a state representative, Nielsen was particularly interested in issues of human services, education, and child welfare. She served two terms in the Iowa General Assembly.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Joyce Nielsen papers

Identifier: IWA0665

Feminist, legislator and community activist who worked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Dates: 1951-1996