In 1973, a radical choice that Jill Derby made while under pressure changed the trajectory of her career from a potential profession in academia to that of a lifelong political activist. When You Dare to Say Yes is a decades-spanning account of how a conservative and conventional upbringing, which began in rural Nevada, evolved into progressive political activism that influenced the course of the state’s education system and advanced women’s gender equality in public life.
Derby’s account of the awakening of her post-college experience living abroad and stories of her global travels infuse this memoir with an international perspective and entertaining vignettes. Ultimately, Derby shares her personal understanding of the transformative power of living among different cultures.
Jill Derby grew up in Los Gatos, California, but spent her early childhood on the family Flying Flapjack Ranch near Lovelock, Nevada, and every summer through college on the shores of Lake Tahoe in Glenbrook. She earned a BS from the University of California, San Francisco, and after living abroad and traveling widely, returned to Nevada to earn her BA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and both her MA and PhD from the University of California, Davis. Her political activism started in the mid-1970s with her involvement in Nevada’s effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1988, she was elected to the first of three six-year terms on the Nevada Board of Regents. She was the Democratic candidate for Congress in Nevada’s Second Congressional District in both 2006 and 2008. Derby is currently a Senior Fellow with the Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges, and past Chair of the Board of the American University in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Derby makes an important contribution to our understanding of the rise of women’s political activism in Nevada as she relates how the international travels she experienced as a young adult led her to question women’s restricted roles back home. Her message is simple: Say ‘yes’ to political opportunities for it will lead to many unexpected and rewarding possibilities.” —Caryll Batt Dziedziak, director, Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
“When You Dare to Say Yes: Jill Derby and Nevada Activism covers a significant piece of Nevada history that is not reported elsewhere. Derby’s recounting of the Women’s Movement in Nevada is important, [and] her service on the Nevada Board of Regents afforded her an inside look into the University system that [is] relevant to today’s issues.” —Patricia D. Cafferata, former Nevada State Treasurer, coauthor of Barbara F. Vucanovich: From Nevada to Congress and Back Again
“Dr. Jill Derby has been in the forefront of every positive social movement in the state of Nevada for the last 50 years. She not only had a seat at the table. She set the table for others to join her. She is passionate about our democracy and the importance of all citizens getting involved in the political process. She led the way for so many others to follow her example. A great read for anyone who believes that one person can make an enormous difference. Jill Derby is that one person and now she shares her journey with the rest of us.” —Shelley Berkley, U.S. Representative for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District (1999-2013)