Historian Stephanie Coontz has chiseled a niche as one of the country's go-to experts on family and marriage. Her writing about matrimony's evolution has swayed top legal minds. The U.S. Supreme Court cited Coontz's work twice in its landmark 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage.
It wasn't the first time the limelight reached the longtime Evergreen State College faculty member. She was called "perhaps the best-known radical woman in the Northwest" in the early 1970s. Journalists stressed, though, that the "petite co-ed" didn't look radical or slip into revolutionary jargon. She thought a practical, nonthreatening style would reach a wider audience. Her myth-busting 1992 book about American nostalgia, The Way We Never Were, had her basking in national attention from Oprah Winfrey and CNN.
She's kept her optimistic debunking style while she's been drawn back into the "nostalgia trap" in recent years. Her view of persuasion has been "that you start to reach people where they are, not where you want them to be."Read more about Stephanie Coontz