Joyce Samuels

Honored by:League of Women Voters of Ames
Brick location:K:26  map

Joyce Samuels is the recipient posthumously of the 2014 Carrie Chapman Catt Award for her service to the League of Women Voters and her many years of advocating for multiculturalism in the Ames community and Iowa.

Joyce served as membership co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Ames from 2011 until 2013. She was an enthusiastic force in successfully attracting younger members and persons of color and increasing the overall League membership. Before coming to Ames in 1973 she served on the state board of the League of Women Voters in West Virginia.

The Ames League and its members are far better for what Joyce taught us about diversity and acceptance. What she specifically taught was that the need for acceptance goes beyond race and gender. We need to welcome every individual into our membership regardless of the person's differences and treat that person the same as any other member. She believed in the value of every individual and was there to fight for the rights of all.

Described by community leaders as an energetic, civil rights, diversity and community service advocate, Joyce served on many boards and agencies which promote justice such as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Ames Human Relations Commission, American Civil Liberties Board, The Ames Few and The Archie A. and Nancy C. Martin Foundation for which she was vice president. The Martin Foundation is an on-going project to preserve the memory of Iowa State University’s segregated past and those who worked to end it.

Joyce was a pioneer in working with others to establish Dialogues which led to FACES, a festival designed to promote diversity, cohesiveness and understanding in Ames. It annually celebrates the city’s diversity and unity.

Joyce was employed with the National Animal Disease Lab, Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University Extension. She led affirmative action and equal opportunity programs for ISU Extension and worked with field staff involved in a variety of diversity efforts throughout Iowa. In 1997 Joyce was quoted in Inside Iowa State saying “Progress can be slow but we’re beginning to see more awareness and concern for diversity issues. Iowans in rural communities have never had to encounter people of color or people who don’t speak their language, but we’re finding that people really want to help each other.”

In May 2008 Joyce received an Unsung Hero Award for her many years of advocating for multiculturalism in Iowa and building a supporting network for the city’s growing black community. One such example is The Ames Few, a support group for black women in the community.

She received two degrees from Iowa State University -- a Bachelor of Science in Sociology in 1978 and a Masters in Higher Education in 1985. Joyce served in the Navy for 4 years (1952-1956). She died December 17, 2013.