_Stimpson grew up in a small town in Washington State in the 1940s and 1950s. She became a radical activist in the '60s, but as the era ended, turned her sights from the streets to schools. Rising up academic and philanthropic ladders, she joined the English department of Barnard College, became dean of graduate studies at Rutgers and president of the Modern Language Association before being appointed to her current post at the MacArthur Foundation.
_A feminist, Stimpson has said her ultimate goal is for "a multiracial, multicultural, multispecied world." She is the author of numerous articles and essays and the novel Class Notes.