Nora Ephron may not be the type of activist we think of today -- camping out in Zuccotti Park taking on Wall Street. But through the trailblazing, stalwart qualities of her work, the author and screenwriter has long been an advocate for people and causes in need of a spotlight.

Ephron, who died Tuesday in New York, where she was being treated for myeloid leukemia and pneumonia, may be most remembered for her keen, snappy cultural observations and inspirational witticisms, but she also leaves us with a body of work that created real change, waves of which we feel today.

Ephron is best known for writing movies such as "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle," but her most defining work may be bringing to life such characters as Karen Silkwood, a whistle-blowing activist whose story was the inspiration for the 1983 movie "Silkwood." In that film, Meryl Streep played the title role, and Cher played Dolly Pelliker, a lesbian who pushed for union rights and fought against Big Energy.

In an interview with The Advocate in 2009, Ephron said of Cher's character: "That I really do think was a breakthrough. I don't mean that she was the first gay character in a mainstream movie, but this was no joking, winking, interior decorator gay person; it was a person.”

Ephron also paved a new kind of women's movement. The founding editor of HuffPost's Divorce section, who was married three times, used her own experiences and views on relationships to make both heartbreak, success and empowerment part of the dialogue.

HuffPost senior columnist Lisa Belkin writes about Ephron:

She toppled barriers -- starting as a mail girl at Newsweek because the magazine didn't hire female writers; writing screenplays because it allowed her to work from home when her children were small; becoming a director at a time when there were no women at the helm of big-budget feature films; writing bestsellers, and a Broadway show, and succeeding at each one. "Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim," she said in a 1996 speech to the graduating class of Wellesley College (from which she graduated in 1962).

But most of all, she opened doors. By putting the female experience on the screen and on the page, she made it visible, and worthy, and she elevated it to the level of art.

Though Ephron wasn't a hugely vocal advocate for specific causes, when she believed in something, she made it known. Becoming one of the great blogging evangelists -- so ascribed by Arianna Huffington -- Ephron used her platform to call attention to issues she deemed important.

In 2007, Ephron, who got her start in journalism and worked for titles such as Newsweek, the New York Post, and Esquire, called on readers to make a contribution to the Innocence Project. The litigation and public policy organization seeks to exonerate individuals serving time for crimes they did not commit.

Ephron wrote in her HuffPost blog:

It seems to me that the Innocence Project has done a huge amount to undermine support for the death penalty -- which this week was outlawed in the state of New Jersey. What's more, they're a relatively small organization that my contribution will make a difference to.

Perhaps Ephron, as an advocate, most importantly leaves us with a number of inspiring phrases to remember her by. As she penned in her book "Heartburn":

“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”

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  • Nora Ephron

    Actress Marcia Gay Harden and writer Nora Ephron speak at the 55th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards at the Pierre Hotel March 8, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)

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    Cherry Jones and Nora Ephron join Diane Lane at a luncheon celebrating her New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role in 'Unfaithful' at the Four Season's in New York City. January 14, 2003. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect

  • Nora Ephron

    Honorees James Schamus, Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron and Executive Director of WGA East Mona Mangan pose together at the 55th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards at the Pierre Hotel March 8, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)

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    Writer/director Nora Ephron and writer Nicholas Pileggi arrive at the 101 Greatest Screenplays gala reception at the Writers Guild Theater on April 6, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

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    Actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, actor Chris Messina, director Nora Ephron, actresses Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and producer Laurence Mark arrive at the special screening of Columbia Pictures' 'Julie & Julia' held at Mann Village Theatre on July 28, 2009 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    Director Nora Ephron, actresses Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams arrive at the special screening of Columbia Pictures' 'Julie & Julia' held at Mann Village Theatre on July 28, 2009 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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    US actors Stanley Tucci, Meryl Streep, US director Nora Ephron and US actor Chris Messina pose during the photocall of the movie 'Julie and Julia' directed by US Nora Ephron on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Producer Amy Robinson, actor Stanley Tucci, actress Meryl Streep, actress Amy Adams, actor Chris Messina, and writer/director Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere after party at Metropolitan Club on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    Actress Amy Adams and writer Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    Martha Stewart and writer Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    US director Nora Ephron (L) arrives with US actors Stanley Tucci (2ndL), Meryl Streep and Chris Messina for the screening of her movie 'Julie and Julia' on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    US director Nora Ephron (L) arrives with US actors Meryl Streep and Chris Messina for the screening of her movie 'Julie and Julia' on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Nora Ephron

    Playwright Nora Ephron, Rosie O�Donnell and Playwright Delia Ephron attend the after party for the Off Broadway opening night of 'Love, Loss and What I Wore' at Bryant Park Grill on October 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

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    U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and writer/director Nora Ephron attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)

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    Actress Zoe Kazan and director Nora Ephron attend the Juror Welcome Lunch At The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival at Tribeca Lofts on April 21, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

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    Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington attend TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 at Pier 94 on May 23, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/Getty Images for AOL)

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    Actress Meryl Streep (R) poses with award recipient Director Nora Ephron at the 2011 Directors Guild Of America Honors at the Directors Guild of America Theater on October 13, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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    Lesley Stahl (R) interviews Nora Ephron (L) on SiriusXM's "The wowOwow Radio Show" at SiriusXM Studio on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)