Barbara Harshbarger Hafer was born
in 1943 in Los Angeles where her father
was stationed in the army during World War
II. The family moved back to southwest Pennsylvania
in 1946 where her father was a salesman
and the family lived in middle class neighborhoods
outside of Pittsburgh. Her parents separated
when Barbara was a teenager and, living
in a household headed by a single mother,
she was immediately plunged into poverty.
Like her grandmother, aunts and sister,
Barbara became a nurse. She graduated from
the South Side Hospital School of Nursing
in 1964 and earned a Bachelor's Degree in
Nursing from Duquesne University in 1969.
In the interim, she worked as a public health
nurse in the Mon Valley where she was radicalized
by the poverty, abuse and bad nutrition.
In 1986, Barbara married Jack Pigeon, head
of the Kiski School in Westmoreland County,
and began a commuter marriage that continued
until she retired in 2005. Her husband died
in 2008.Barbara became involved in the women's
movement in 1972, joining both the South
Hills chapter of the National Organization
for Women (NOW) and the Pittsburgh chapter
of the Women's Political Caucus. She became
the first Executive Director of Pittsburgh
Action Against Rape (PAAR) in 1974, founded
the Mon Yough/Allegheny County Rape Crisis
Center (now the Center for Victims of Violent
Crimes) in 1975 and was a founding member
of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rap
became involved in the women's movement
in 1972, joining both the South Hills chapter
of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
and the Pittsburgh chapter of the Women's
Political Caucus. She became the first Executive
Director of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
(PAAR) in 1974, founded the Mon Yough/Allegheny
County Rape Crisis Center (now the Center
for Victims of Violent Crimes) in 1975 and
was a founding member of the Pennsylvania
Coalition Against Rap in 1975.
her work in public health and crime victims'
services, Barbara saw that the real power
to implement change lay with those who control
the public purse strings. It also gave her
a taste of politics. "I was smitten,
I was won over by that," Hafer said
during her In Sisterhood interview in 2008.
She started to get politically active in
the Mon Valley, serving in a variety of
volunteer positions over five years. Given
her moderate, pro-choice stance, Barbara
was persuaded to join the Republican party
and received financial support from members
of the Women's Political Caucus when she
ran for County Commissioner in 1979. She
lost that election but immediately began
organizing to run again in 1983.
as a "little nurse from Elizabeth,"
Barbara was elected as the first female
Allegheny County Commissioner in 1983. She
became a player in local politics and was
re-elected to the County Commission in 1987.
Then, Barbara became a player in state politics.She
was elected as state Auditor General in
1989, ran unsuccessfully for Governor in
1990, was reelected as Auditor General in
1992, and elected as State Treasurer in
feminist movement really gave me an opportunity
to be able to do what I wanted to do and
step into a leadership position.But, it
was nursing that prepared me," she
said in 2008. Barbara retired from politics
in 2005 to found Hafer and Associates, a
consulting firm working with for-profit
and non-profit clients to develop successful
solutions to governmental problems.