Five facts you may not know about our founders

Five facts you may not know about our founders

CCC is lucky and proud to have a group of smart, pioneering women as its founders and early leaders. The accomplishments of the highest-profile of the bunch, Eleanor Roosevelt, are well-known – she was an iconic international champion of women, children, and civil rights who upended the notion of what a first lady could be and continues to be a hero to countless women and men around the world. Her co-founders, who helped her establish CCC in 1944, also made remarkable contributions to civic life and children’s causes that continue to inspire us today. In honor of Women’s History Month, we rounded up a few facts about some of them – Judge Justine Wise Polier, Trude Wenzel Lash, and Adele Rosenwald Levy – that highlight the trailblazing work they did and the inspiring legacies they left.

  1. They were not afraid to ruffle feathers. Polier was fired from an early job in Passaic, New Jersey for ‘agitating’ workers to organize for better labor conditions. In Lash’s work at the Human Rights Commission, she often sent undercover volunteers to investigate conditions at child-serving institutions – and continued to do so despite regular clashes with officials. Faced with the daunting prospect of raising a record amount of money to support Holocaust survivors after World War II, Levy told her fellow committee members at the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) that they faced odds “which not even the most pessimistic of outstanding governmental authorities had foreseen” – and proceeded to raise $170 million.
  2. They smashed gender barriers and cultural norms. Polier served as the first woman referee in the Workmen’s Compensation Division of the New York State Department of Labor and went on to become the first woman to hold a judicial office above magistrate in New York. Lash earned a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Freiburg in 1930, decades before Ivy League schools in the United States admitted women to their programs. Levy became the first chair of the National Women’s Division at UJA in 1947 and later became the first vice president of the Wiltwyck School for Boys.
  3. They were fierce advocates for social justice. Lash participated in Nazi resistance efforts in Germany and continued human rights work in the States, assisting European refugees and investigating abuses of power. Polier actively opposed racial and religious discrimination, speaking out forcefully against anti-Semitism and encouraging members of the Jewish faith to oppose oppression in all forms and against all ethnic groups. Levy, an heir to the Sears Roebuck fortune, dedicated her money and influence to advancing a number of philanthropic causes, including children’s rights, refugee issues, and arts education.
  4. They understood the urgency of protecting and empowering children and families. Besides helping to establish CCC, the women have a long record of working for children and family causes. Lash served as lead investigator on two tremendously influential reports, ”State of the Child: New York City I and II,” and was instrumental in the work of the Foundation for Child Development. Levy served as a delegate at two White House conferences on children and families in 1950 and 1960. Polier advocated passionately for increased resources and supports for disadvantaged children and used her role as a judge to advance child well-being.
  5. They never stopped advocating for a better world. Levy was involved in 35 philanthropic and community organizations when she died at 67. Lash became heavily involved in the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute after retiring and was still a Roosevelt memorabilia consultant working to advance the social justice goals of the couple when she died at 95. And though she retired from her work as a family court judge in 1973, Polier kept fighting to protect kids as the director of the Juvenile Justice Division of the Children’s Defense Fund until she passed away at the age of 84.



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  • Diana Elghanayan says:

    Brava to our founders and followers!

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