Oral Histories

Interview of Gladys Meade

Vice president of environmental health for the American Lung Association of California. Governor's appointee to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board and the California Air Resources Board.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Vice president of environmental health for the American Lung Association of California. Governor's appointee to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board and the California Air Resources Board.
Collings, Jane
Meade, Gladys
Persons Present:
Meade and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Meade's home in Torrance, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing material about the history of the air quality struggle in the Southern California area, including Backroom Politics: How Your Local Politicians Work, Why Your Government Doesn't, and What You Can Do about it., Bill and Nancy Boyarsky, 1974. Collings also reviewed notes supplied by Meade on the controversy surrounding the original requirements to fit cars with catalytic converters in California.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Meade was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
7 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Family background— High school education—Attends university— Meets future husband—Future husband’s military career—Gets married and moves to Washington D.C. — Starts a family— Husband completes university training and secures a position at Alcoa in Los Angeles—Expands size of family and moves to Redondo Beach—Husband earns an MBA degree—Family moves to Seattle—Joins League of Women Voters (LWV)—Interest in international issues—Encouraged while in high school to pursue a career in diplomacy— Participates in League study program and expands interests in local politics—Land use politics on Mercer Island—Observes at Mercer Island City Council on behalf of League—Makes transition from interest in international to local issues—Influences attire of city council in Mercer Island— Moves to Winter Park, Florida—Florida gardens—Joins League of Women Voters in Winter Park—League support of the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act—Segregation in Winter Park—Coordination between the NAACP and League on minority voter registration—Meade’s neighbor’s concerns when she entertains an African-American couple in her home—Obstacles to African Americans registering to vote in Florida—More on coordination between the NAACP and League on minority voter registration—Moves to Wichita, Kansas—Attends Wichita State University—The social climate in Wichita—Joins Wichita League of Women Voters—Bias of Wichita newspapers toward Barry Goldwater—Participation in Johnson campaign.
Characteristics of the LWV volunteers in the 60s—Difficulties for women’s volunteer organizations to retain membership in the 70s and 80s —Social activism with League members —Women For: —Difference between women For: and League of Women Voters —Discussions in the Meade home while growing up —Social justice teachings at Meade’s Catholic high school and college —Great-grandfather’s sense of social justice —Impact on Meade’s thought of the Christopher Society —Great Aunt Agnes’s abilities in the home—Family’s work background—Tuition payments for Meade’s education—Mother’s work background —Returns to Redondo Beach from Wichita—House renovation—Earns a bachelor’s degree with a double major at UCLA—Meade’s senior thesis —Resumes participation with LWV —Serves as a LWV observer at the City of Torrance city council—LWV social occasions —Meade produces an air pollution study kit on national law in relation to L.A. region for the L.A. County LWV —Meade attends a conference in Washington, DC attended by a broad array of citizen and government groups on air pollution —LWV sponsors a conference to announce the completion of the study kit —LWV recommends the formation of a regional air pollution control district —Meade’s work lobbying the state legislature on the formation of an regional air pollution control district —Meade’s lobbying techniques —League’s position on opening up the gas tax for use on air pollution issues —American Lung Association and League join forces on the gas tax issue —Competing Bills authored by John F. Foran and James R. Mills on the gas tax issue —Meade supports a bill on the gas tax on behalf of the League—The League, American Lung Assoc. and stateside clean air organizations work to support the Mill bill —Attends American Lung Assoc meeting in support of the Mills bill —The L.A. City Council ceases to support the bill —Accepts a position with the Lung Association for the duration of the campaign —Lobbies in Sacramento on behalf of the Lung Assoc —Public education for the Lung Assoc chapters on the issue of air pollution —Lobbying governor's office on issue that a physician be placed on Air Resources Board —Appointed by Governor Reagan to Air Resources Board (ARB) —Senate confirmation process —California Thoracic Society slide shows —The predominantly male membership of Lung Association.
More on working for the American Lung Association on observing the Air Resources Board—American Lung Association publicity on health effects of air pollution—Work environment for women in the Lung Association offices—Jean Auer—Stamp Out Smog—Professions that tended to lobby Air Resources Board—Mission of Planning and Conservation League—The evolution of the initiative process under Jerry Merrel—The shift of volunteer groups to start having boards that handled foundation money that was used to hire staff—Leaves Planning and Conservation League—Meade’s efforts to keep up with technical data on health effects for Lung Association—Inherent problems with the internal combustion engine—Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit—Air Resources Board hearings-Balancing the economic and health costs of air pollution— The creation of the ARB— ARB appointees—Meade’s appointment to the ARB—Governor Reagan’s prohibition against pantsuits—Meets Ronald Reagan—Meade’s relationship with the media—Pressure from business regarding the cost of environmental regulations—Impact of pollution on tourism—Effort of the ARB to mandate an emissions device to reduce oxides of nitrogen in ’66-’70 cars—Meade’s decision that she must support a mandate for ’66-’70 car owners to install the NOx device—Fired by Governor Ronald Reagan
More on being fired by Governor Ronald Reagan
The smog layer in L.A. —Arie Haagen-Smit’s work on the production of ozone—The Air Resources Board practices in arriving at standards—Vapor pressure testing—Light duty vehicle standards—The catalytic converter—The ARB vote on the catalytic converter—The federal government’s belief that California could be the testing ground for development of the catalytic converter—More on the ARB vote on the catalytic converter—The contention surrounding the NOx device—An add-on device in the sixties —An effort to produce a public information annual report form the ARB—Combined device manufacturer suit against re-constituted ARB board due to decision to overturn requirement for after marker device—Meade’s decision to be fired from the board—Legislature changes statute concerning NOx-device in response to the Supreme Court decision upholding previous statute—Emerging consensus that air quality controls should be on a basin-wide basis—Frustration with the L.A. APCD—Meade’s support of citizen’s groups fighting smog—Gil Bailey’s prepares a minority report for the APCD with Ellen Stern Harris—Early attempts to get a voluntary basin-wide plan—Efforts to push the South Coast district bill through the California legislature—Union objections to a basin-wide district—The passage of the basin bill—Efforts by county government to derail the basin legislation—Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown’s government appointments—Meade’s appointment to the public member seat of the board of the Southern California Air Pollution Control District—The challenge of coordinating the four counties to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act—Alfred “Al” McCandless.
Home and work life balance—Hiring practices at the Coalition for Clean Air.
California’s role as a leader in clean air policy—Jerry Brown’s hands-off policy with regard to his political appointees—The NOx device manufacturer’s suit against CARB—Meade’s friendship with Mary Nichols—“The new girls network” —Meade’s efforts to get the South Coast District and the CARB to work together—The professionalization of the environmental activist area—Formation of the Coalition for Clean Air—The role of foundations in diminishing the participation of activist individuals—More on the professionalization of the environmental activist area—Meade’s interest in broader public participation at the Coalition for Clean Air—A facilitator evaluates the working relationships at the Coalition for Clean Air—More on the professionalization of the environmental activist area—Organizational transformation—Early volunteerism at the Coalition for Clean Air—Tension among Coalition affiliates—Volunteerism in the environmental justice movement—The Rose Foundation—The Meade Prize for Clean Air—Procedural changes at the League of Women Voters—Meade’s activism over the decades—The success of air pollution control in California—The emerging understanding of the health effects of air pollution—Efforts to encourage less use of private cars—Popularity of the hybrid car—ARB incentives for zero emission cars—Meade’s continued faith in the power of people to make a difference—A community of environmental leaders—How to enter public policy debates today.