When it comes to activism and advocacy for women, Carolyn Casper has been carrying the baton since at least 1974.

That's when her mother took her to her first meeting of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for Women.

"She said, 'You need to be a part of this,' " Casper remembers. "I've been a member ever since."

In November, Casper was elected president of Ohio NOW, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting feminist ideals, leading societal change, eliminating discrimination and achieving and protecting the equal rights of all women and girls.

There are nine local NOW chapters in Ohio, as well as the state chapter that Casper will lead in 2017 and 2018. The groups are affiliated with the National Organization for Women, which was established in 1966.

"Carolyn is a longtime advocate of women's causes and she's a longtime member of NOW," said Anita Rios, Ohio NOW's immediate past president. "She was an ideal candidate to be president.

"Being an elected official, she was familiar with the public outreach and public speaking abilities this position requires, and having run a campaign, she's very organized. She's also very willing and able to energize other people."

Casper doesn't readily volunteer her age, but notes she was "around" 30 when she attended her first NOW meeting, and she'd already had seen her 71st birthday when she was elected to Upper Arlington City Council for the first time in November 2015.

What she's more apt to discuss are some of the struggles and successes she's had throughout life.

They've included going back to college after the birth of her first daughter and to completing degrees in social and behavioral sciences from Ohio State University, being a working mother who raised three daughters and twice serving as president of Ohio Women Inc.

She's also lived in Upper Arlington for nearly 65 years, been a member of numerous local organizations, aided school and community beautification projects and been a member of the National Women's Political Caucus steering committee.

"I used to shelter battered women in my home before we had a shelter," Casper said. "I went to school to be a CPA (certified public accountant), but I got totally engrossed in women's studies.

"I have this deep sense in me of fairness and right and wrong. I've had some very strong women in my life, but I also subscribe by, 'If something's wrong, you need to change it.' "

On Jan. 15, she was part of an estimated more than 2,000-strong Sister March in downtown Columbus that called on state and federal leaders to push for women's rights and gender equality.

As Ohio NOW president, some of her focuses will be lobbying for equal wages for women who hold similar jobs to male counterparts, voter participation, child abuse prevention and upholding the Affordable Care Act.

"It's just very important to me that we are all treated fairly and equally," Casper said. "Women's rights are human rights.

"It's very satisfying to know people think I have the ability to do this. If we all stand together, I think we'll come out better on the other side."

Rios confirmed her belief in Casper's ability to mobilize and lead women and supporters of women's rights in Ohio, and said the NOW constituency should have faith, as well.

"She just instills a tremendous amount of confidence," Rios said. "Carolyn brings to the position a tremendous amount of goodwill and level-headedness. She's just a very kind person."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate