As a woman coming of age during the Women's Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Goodnow faced sexual discrimination. She worked in factories during the summers of her undergraduate degree and earned a full $2 less per hour than her male co-workers. Goodnow would not let gender discrimination stand in her way though and went on to help other young women find a career path that suited them. With a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Goodnow started her post-baccalaureate life working at a rehabilitation center to help emotionally challenged individuals find a career path in which they would thrive. It was while working there that she started a Master's degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling. She left the center to work with women on government assistance to evaluate their career potential. It was in this position that she first had the opportunity to work with a community college—an experience that would change her life and put her on the higher education trajectory. The president of Kirkwood Community College asked her to work as their Rehabilitation Counselor; she had a challenging case load of 300 students, but was successful in writing grants and moving forward to help Kirkwood establish a developmental education program, competency-based curriculum (which gained national attention), experiential learning, and other programs. Goodnow left administration and went into a faculty position, although she had taught while in her other roles. She left Kirkwood when she was recruited to become the Dean of Students at a three-college district in Iowa. She was then recruited to be a Vice-President at North Iowa Community College. At that point, she knew that she wanted to be community college president. Her goal was achieved in the mid-1990s when she became the first female president at Illinois Valley Community College. When she heard that a position for President of Delta College was open, she applied and successfully obtained the position becoming the first female college president in the mid-Michigan area.
Jana Nidiffer and Carolyn Terry Bashaw, eds., Women Administrators in Higher Education: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001).
Mimi Wolverton, Beverly Bower, and Adrienne Hyle, Women at the Top: What Women University and College Presidents Say About Effective Leadership (Stylus Publishing, 2008).