The PR Woman Who Created the First Earth Day

Apr 22-1970-- Before she joined AT&T and eventually become its first woman to head PR, Marilyn Laurie helped create the first Earth Day. To accommodate the thousands of protesters planning to march in NYC, she managed to convince NYC's Mayor Lindsey to close off Fifth Avenue to traffic for most of the day. She also managed to convince actor/activists Paul Newman and Ali McGraw to lead the march and address the crowds, calling for Washington to enact environmental protection legislation. So strong was this wave of social activism, that in Dec. 1970, Pres. Nixon signed an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency.

In an oral history recorded a few years before her death in 2011, Marilyn said this about her time as an environmental activist: "I would like to think I changed a few things along the way. I’d like to think that I caused a fair number of people to care about the environment at a time when it was not an issue. I’ve tried to work with entities that I think make the world a better place and I’ve tried to help them be more successful at what they do well. It’s so important that what you do when you go to work in the morning matters to you. And I hope the people who worked with me felt that way."