In 1972, Sally May, Gail Griffith, Holly Greer, Karlyn Rapport, and Patricia Micklow, known as the "Founding Mothers," held a conference at Northern Michigan University titled "The Changing Role of Women in the 70's.” It was organized in collaboration with Sarah McClellan, Marilyn Gorski, and Mary Soper. This conference led to the establishment of the Women's Center, which in 1973 became an official program of Northern Michigan University's Office of Continuing Education as a social and educational support group for women. The Center provided public educational workshops and programs such as assertiveness training, active listening, and a displaced homemaker program; it also offered sexual assault counseling and support services and fielded a sexual assault response team. Some of the Women’s Center staff and volunteers, notably Holly Greer, Karlyn Rapport, and Marilyn Marshall, were responsible for founding the Spouse Abuse Shelter Project, an independent non-profit organization offering a refuge for victims of domestic violence; this organization became part of the Women’s Center in 1986 and was renamed Harbor House in the early 1990s. Northern Michigan University ceased its funding of the Women's Center in 1980 owing to budget cuts. However, the Women's Center was reorganized as a non-profit community-based organization by the Women’s Center Community Advisory Council that same year and, after a period of transience, the Women’s Center found a permanent residence in the Marquette community in 1986.