Toni Van Pelt is president of the left-of-center feminist advocacy group National Organization for Women (NOW). 1 She is the former owner of travel agency International Travel Associates, Inc. from 1978 to 2004.
In 1989, she became an activist for secularist and feminist causes. She became a full-time liberal activist after leaving her business; she was vice president at the Center for Inquiry, which opposes religious values in government, before she became Southeast Regional Director for NOW and founded the Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV).
Since 2017, Van Pelt has headed NOW’s national chapter.
While Van Pelt owned International Travel Associates, Inc. until 2004, her LinkedIn page explains that she was an activist with NOW starting in 1989. As a NOW representative, she rose through the organization’s ranks in Florida and the southeastern United States. 2
Van Pelt has registered to lobby at the federal level for two secularist groups, the Center for Inquiry and the Institute for Science and Human Values. 3While with the Center for Inquiry, Van Pelt issued a statement in support of state recognition of same-sex marriage. 4 She also backed President Barack Obama’s expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. 5
Institute for Science and Human Values was co-founded by Van Pelt in 2010 and set up as an advocacy organization for “humanist” values. Those values included “population restraint” and “transnational planetary institutions” for environmental protection. 6 The organization does not appear to have engaged in action since Van Pelt left in 2017.
Toni Van Pelt took office as national president of the National Organization for Women in 2017. Under Van Pelt’s leadership, NOW has pushed an “intersectionality” agenda focused around left-leaning priorities such as abortion, the decades-old Equal Rights Amendment, voting rights, and looser immigration laws. 7
According to NOW’s 2017 990, it raised $1,180,104 that year, an increase of more than $300,000 over 2016. 8
Van Pelt’s salary in 2017 was $73,299.
Opposition to Brett Kavanaugh Nomination
When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct during his Senate nomination hearings in 2018, Van Pelt said in a statement that Senators should oppose Kavanaugh. According to Van Pelt, Kavanaugh was part of a “toxic male culture,” and Senators should oppose Kavanaugh to “begin to tear…down” the culture. 9
Van Pelt also opposed Kavanaugh because he has a generally pro-life judicial record. 10
Opposition to Title IX Rule Changes
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education proposed rolling back policies which were designed to engage schools as arbiters when accusations of sexual assault are made. Introduced by the Obama administration, they were reversed under Secretary Betsy DeVos on the grounds that the Obama-era directives did not adequately ensure due process for accused students.
Van Pelt opposed these policy changes in a statement and an op-ed. 1112
- National Organization of Women, Toni Van Pelt, Accessed April 15, 2019. https://now.org/staff/toni-van-pelt/
- LinkedIn, Toni Van Pelt, Accessed April 15, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/toni-van-pelt-ab3a5823/
- See Center for Inquiry, Inc. Office of Public Policy, Lobbying Report, Q4 2008 https://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=getFilingDetails&filingID=B85452C6-2BC0-40EF-A94A-48E8768EB145&filingTypeID=78 and Institute for Science and Human Values, Lobbying Report, Q3 2017 https://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=getFilingDetails&filingID=FF874A2F-66B8-4CD6-BE1C-868FFFE993D9&filingTypeID=71
- Center for Inquiry, “Same-sex marriage now in four states,” April 8, 2009. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://centerforinquiry.org/news/same-sex_marriage_now_in_four_states/
- Center for Inquiry, “Obama unleashes stem-cell research asserts integrity of science,” March 10, 2009. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://centerforinquiry.org/news/obama_unleashes_stem_cell_research_asserts_integrity_of_science/
- Institute for Science and Human Values, “New-humanist statement of secular principles and values: personal, progressive, and planetary,” Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.com/FP/about-us/neo-humanist-statement.htm
- National Organization for Women, National Action Plan, Accessed April 15, 2019. https://now.org/nap/
- National Organization for Women, 2017 990, Accessed April 16, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/521477004/201832339349300328/IRS990
- National Organization for Women, “Toni Van Pelt: Stop Brett Kavanaugh and End the Toxic Culture of Male Fury,” October 2, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019. https://yubanet.com/opinions/toni-van-pelt-stop-brett-kavanaugh-and-end-the-toxic-culture-of-male-fury/
- National Organization for Women, “Kavanaugh must no longer be a nominee for the Supreme Court,” September 16, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019. https://now.org/blog/kavanaugh-must-no-longer-be-a-nominee-for-the-supreme-court/
- National Organization for Women, “Proposed Title IX changes would gut critical protections for students everywhere,” November 16, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019. https://now.org/media-center/press-release/proposed-title-ix-changes-would-gut-critical-protections-for-students-everywhere/
- Toni Van Pelt, “DeVos revamp of Title IX rules would aid sexual predators, discourage reports of rape,” December 10, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019. https://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/columns/guest_columns/toni-van-pelt-insidesources-devos-revamp-of-title-ix-rules/article_d6b3d346-b72e-5a13-85e9-1d7eb1d61778.html