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Frances Fox Piven was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her family moved to the United States in 1933. She became a naturalized citizen in 1953, the year she received an undergraduate degree in City Planning from the University of Chicago. She received her master's degree in 1956 and her doctorate in 1962, also from the University of Chicago. She married Herman Piven, with whom she had a daughter. After graduating, she became a city planner in New York City, but soon left her profession to become a research associate at Mobilization for Youth, one of the country's first anti-poverty agencies. In 1965 she co-authored the paper Mobilizing the Poor: How It Can Be Done, which helped her become nationally recognized as an expert on the welfare state. She married the paper's co-author, Columbia University professor Richard Cloward. She established the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). In 1966, she joined the Columbia University School of Social Work. In 1972, she became a professor of political science at Boston University. In 1982 she joined the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has co-authored with Richard Cloward several books and papers, including Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare (1971), The Politics of Turmoil: Essays on Poverty, Race and the Urban Crisis (1974), Poor People's Movements (1977), The New Class War (1982), The Mean Season (1987), Why Americans Don't Vote (1988), and The Breaking of the American Social Compact (1997).She earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1962. In 2006-2007 she served as the President of the American Sociological Association. She was married to her long-time collaborator Richard Cloward until his death in 2001. Together with Cloward, she designed the Cloward-Piven Strategy, outlined in an article written in the may 1966 issue of The Nation entitled The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty. is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America.