Toni Van Pelt, a longtime feminist and humanist activist, was elected president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in July 2017, taking office in August of that year. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chairwoman of the NOW Political Action Committee and serves as the principal spokeswoman for all three entities. Van Pelt oversees NOW’s multi-issue agenda, which includes: achieving constitutional equality for women, advancing reproductive rights and justice, promoting racial justice, stopping violence against women, winning civil and human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community, and ensuring economic justice.
Spurred to action by the 1989 Supreme Court decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, Van Pelt has served in leadership positions at all levels of NOW since 1989. She is a past president of Florida NOW (1996-2003) and served two terms as the regional director on the national board (2010-2014). Van Pelt began her journey with the organization as the treasurer of the Upper Pinellas NOW chapter and remains fiercely devoted to grassroots activists working at the local level.
Van Pelt is a longtime advocate for secular humanism and the separation of church and state. She serves on the board of the Institute for Humanist Studies. She is the co-founder and served as the president and public policy director for the Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV). Currently, she is the chairwoman of the board of directors of ISHV. A former vice president and public policy director of the Center for Inquiry, Van Pelt organized and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington, D.C. She lobbied for law and policies driven by the empirical scientific evidence as opposed to faith.
Van Pelt is a former member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers when she worked for Northwest Orient Airlines. Her past career as the owner of a travel agency, International Travel Associates, Inc. specializing in international travel gave her the opportunity to expand her worldview through global travel. She is committed to building an inclusive, intersectional, and intergenerational feminist movement.