Sol del Ande Mendez Eaton
Sol de Ande Mendez Eaton was born in San Cristobel, Venezuela on June 14, 1932, and has lived in Maryland for thirty years. Eaton is a research chemist and a leader in civil rights, women’s rights and health care, and an activist for the Hispanic community.
As a young woman, Eaton excelled at athletics, representing Venezuela at international competitions in both basketball and diving. While in high school, she was selected to represent Venezuela in the Summer Olympics in Helsinki. A detached retina, however, cut her sports career short. The disability left Eaton blind in one eye, forcing her to give up a promising career in athletics.
Looking for new direction, she earned degrees in chemistry and later in law. Her early scientific work for the federal government gave way to her concern for the condition of those who were not as fortunate as she, those who were denied the opportunities that others take for granted—members of minority and ethnic groups, women, and the disabled. As an EEO officer Ms. Eaton identified the barriers that stood in the way of minorities and women and strove to eliminate them.
As Co-Chair of the Maryland Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1976-82), Eaton convened the first statewide conference on civil rights, worked to build relations between law enforcement and the community, improved the treatment of migrant workers, and helped to reduce discrimination in employment, housing, education, and health.
Eaton has been honored for her leadership by numerous organizations and agencies including The National Conference of Christians and Jews and the United States Public Heath Service. Her extensive contributions have been acknowledged by her selection for inclusion in the 1992 Maryland Women’s History Month Kit: In Every Generation Action Frees Our Dream’s and in Women of Achievement in Prince George’s County History.
Since 1974, Eaton has served on the Prince George’s County Commission for Women, including two terms as chairperson. Her work at he local and state levels has included pioneering work in women’s health and domestic violence. At the national level, Eaton serves as Treasurer and Chair of the Health Committee for the National Association of Commissions for Women. In the words of NACW President Camille Failla Murphy, she has, “brought NACW into the 21st century” by producing a bilingual women’s health newsletter and chairing the organization’s first national symposium on the health issues of minority women. At the international level, Eaton served as a consultant on Health Issues at the Fifth International Women’s Congress and other international forums.
She is the mother of four children and worked for the Public Health Service with her husband, Harold, in Lanham.