Ann Richards had only begun her political career by the time of the National Women’s Conference, but her reputation was already on the rise. After successfully managing the legislative campaigns of Sarah Weddington and Wilhelmina Delco, she challenged three-term incumbent Johnny Voudouris in the 1976 Democratic primary for Travis County commissioner. Richards won the primary and general election, becoming the first woman to hold that office.
Richards attended the National Women’s Conference as a member of the Texas delegation. Commissioner Bella Abzug personally selected Richards to speak for the Equal Rights Amendment resolution. “I rise on behalf of those few of us who are fortunate enough to be in the positions we are in,” she remarked, “but also for those who are speechless and voiceless, the divorced who may not get credit, the widows who are incapable of making a living.”
Richards remained Travis County commissioner until 1982, when she was elected state treasurer. In 1988, Richards rose to national prominence after delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Two years later, Richards successfully ran for governor, serving a single term. Richards then worked as a political consultant. The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders opened in Austin in 2007, a year after the former governor’s death.