Dr. Lois Higgins-Grote
Heritage Award Recipient
The Heritage Award is an honor bestowed upon an individual member
when warranted due to substantial and significant contributions to women police
and the International Association of Women Police over a period of years and
especially during milestones of the organization. The honor is meant to ensure
the recording, recognition, and appreciation for outstanding and dedicated
service to IAWP. The IAWP's Heritage recognition is the highest tribute given by
the IAWP. This year’s recipient of the IAWP Heritage recognition is
Superintendant Phyllis Nolan.
In the late 70’s, Phyllis Nolan was introduced to the IAWP through a friend from
the International Police Association (IPA). At that time, the organization’s
membership was mainly drawn from North America, which had 11 Regions. Region 12
represented the rest of the world. Nolan joined. In 1985, Nolan was selected as
a finalist for the International Scholarship Award. What an honor this was! But
when the Chair of the International Scholarship Committee advised Nolan’s
department of the honor, the department would not support Nolan’s attendance at
the conference which would be held in Alaska that year. Recognizing this
opportunity, Nolan was not going to be dissuaded, so she arranged her own
transportation to Alaska. She traveled to Alaska via St. Paul, Minnesota where
she was graciously hosted by Carolen Bailey, then Chair of the International
Scholarship Award Committee.
The Alaska training conference was a life changing experience for Nolan. Aside
from global exposure to various styles in policing, training sessions were
offered which were interesting and relevant to her style of policing in Ireland.
While at this conference, she was also able to forge new friendships and
international collaborations. She recognized and seized the opportunity to
exchange ideas and experiences with other participants and she began to build a
global network of resources.
Nolan returned to her homeland (Ireland) with a very positive perception of
IAWP. A couple of years later, she was elected as the Regional Coordinator for
Region 12—the world outside of North America. Still later, Nolan was elected to
2nd and then 1st Vice President. In total, she served on the Board from
1986—2000. Over this time and since, Nolan saw many changes not only in IAWP,
but in Ireland. “Today women make up 24% of the Police Force. Only last month, a
woman made history when she was appointed Deputy Commissioner, a position that
is second in command of the police force, with responsibility for operational
policing at a national level.
“My proudest experience with the IAWP was while serving as Vice President. I was
the first person outside of North America to be elected an Officer of the Board.
It wasn’t just my election, but that I had the opportunity to play a role in the
growth of IAWP outside North America and the development initially of two
Regions. That growth has continued to expand, making the organization truly
International; thus providing opportunities to police women everywhere to
enhance their opportunities” (Phyllis Nolan)
"During my term as IAWP President, Executive Director Angie Holt and I were
blessed to have Superintendant Nolan serve as 2nd Vice-President. Superintendant
Nolan was ever an advocate for our Board and the sometimes difficult decisions
to be made, yet her true advocacy resided with what would be most beneficial to
the membership as whole. The strength of her decision-making, along with her
collaborative nature, served to make IAWP a healthy organization for the
betterment of law enforcement world-wide. At a time when our international
membership numbers were small, Superintendant Nolan consistently ensured our
sisters in law enforcement around the world were remembered and attended to
their needs” (Gale Buckner, Past President).
Perhaps the greatest asset Superintendant Nolan brought to the IAWP was that she
came from a country on the western edge of Europe where as a member of a
National Police Force, she brought a wider experience to IAWP, which at that
time was mainly operating within the USA and Canada. She also was serving on the
Permanent Executive Board of the International Police Association, with contacts
in many parts of the world. These networks provided a wide platform for
Superintendant Nolan to promote the IAWP.
What many people don’t know about Superintendant Nolan is that she was the first
police woman in the Garda Siochana (National Police Force of Ireland) to gain
Office rank on promotion to Superintendent; 30 years after the first Ban Gardai
(women police) were trained. She is also the first woman to be elected to the
International Board of the IPA, where she served for 12 years.
Superintendant Nolan is now retired from policing, but she continues her
involvement with IPA at the local level as Chairman of the Dublin North Region
and Manager of the Dublin IPA House. Superintendant Nolan also stays connected
with her colleagues and friends at the IAWP.
“Superintendant Nolan has been a humble law enforcement leader who gratefully
served Ireland in a law enforcement capacity and has been an advocate and mentor
for all women in law enforcement” (Gale Buckner, Past President).
It is with great honor that this year we recognize Superintendant Nolan for her
substantial and significant contributions to women police and the International
Association of Women Police.