Serving as an international flight attendant for Pan American Airways for seven years from 1967-1975, Ms. Ireland gained a political, business and cultural understanding of the Caribbean, Central and South America.
With a degree from the University of Miami law school, Ms. Ireland practiced a dozen years in Miami, focusing primarily on business transactions. She assisted clients with effective affirmative action plans and successful guidance through federal contract compliance review. Ms. Ireland now consults with clients on how to avoid the high cost of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, analyzing their workforces, reviewing policies and practices, and making recommendations.
As NOW President from 1991 to 2001, Ms. Ireland led the largest, most visible and most successful organization of feminist activists in the United States. Ms. Ireland's major contributions included organizing NOW activists to defend women's access to abortion, elect a record number of women to political office, work more closely in coalitions with other social justice and civil rights groups, and champion international feminist issues.
Ms. Ireland is especially adept at challenging people to make the connections between women's rights and other human rights issues. She has forged stronger links with welfare and poor women's rights activists; nationally known civil rights leaders; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups.
Her efforts on behalf of lgbt rights have included organizing activists to fight punitive ballot initiatives around the country; getting arrested at the White House over the continued ban on gays and lesbians in the military; and serving as a speaker and major organizer for the 1993 March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian and Bi Civil Rights.
Currently Ireland serves on the national advisory board of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, a national organization working to end discrimination and violence based on gender identity and gender expression.
In May 2003 she was named chief executive of the American Y.W.C.A., leading to protests by some Christian and conservative groups, at no avail.