American temperance leader and reformer, well-known lecturer, writer, and educator, born in Churchville, New York, graduate of Northwestern Female College, Evanston, Illinois, 1859. She was president of Evanston College for Ladies and dean of women at Northwestern University. After leaving the university, she helped organize the Chicago Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1874, and became president of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1879. In 1891 she was elected president of the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
Willard turned away from a solid career in education to devote herself to the temperance crusade. For many years she worked for the Temperance Union with no pay, living on money made at speaking engagements. She was instrumental in the formation of the Prohibition Party, and was later elected president of the National Council of Women, largely for her belief in women's right to vote.
Willard is remembered among Methodists for her strong stance in favor of women's participation in the church. She was elected by the Rock River Conference as a lay delegate to General Conference in 1888, but was denied the seat by the General Conference. Along with Anna Oliver, she began the long slow struggle towards women's full participation among Methodists.