1991 American Woman Award
Sarah McClendon began her journalism career as a newspaper reporter in the 1930s in Tyler, Missouri. The Women's Army Corps brought her to Washington as a public relations officer during World War II, and she continued working in the nation's capital, covering the White House from the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For many of her fifty years as a correspondent, McClendon worked independently for her own organization, McClendon News Service, Inc. She has also appeared on a wide variety of television and radio news programs as a political commentator.
However, McClendon has been more than a journalist and political correspondent. She has served at different times on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, the Veteran's Administration Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, and in various positions in the National Woman's Party. Her involvement with these and other organizations demonstrates the commitment to women's issues and equality that McClendon has always shown in her professional life, most prominently as a political reporter not afraid to ask the tough questions.
McClendon has also spent her long career paving the way for the women who have followed her into journalism. In 1963, she organized a press briefing group for female reporters in Washington, designed to push them toward more hard-news reporting. Twenty-seven years after initially applying, she was finally admitted to the traditionally male National Press Club in 1971 and went on to serve as vice president.
Besides receiving WREI's American Woman Award in 1991, McClendon has been named a Woman of Achievement by the National Press Club, received the Woman of Conscience Award from the National Council of Women, a Public Life Award from the Older Women's League, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Headliners Foundation of Texas, and was given the first Presidential Award for Covering Washington. This list represents just a few of the honors bestowed upon McClendon during her career, but all of them seem to recognize her professional success and trailblazing spirit.
Born in Tyler, Texas, in 1910, McClendon graduated from Tyler Junior College and the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Today, she is the author of two books about her professional life and tours as a speaker.