The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill 30th Anniversary

The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill
30th Anniversary
We Would Never Have Made It Without You
Inside front cover
This history is dedicated to all of those
who have helped keep Mrs. Roosevelt’s
voice, spirit and ideals alive:
The Group Who Saved Val-Kill—
Sandy Bloom, Nancy Dubner, Bill Emerson, Joyce Ghee,
Edwina Gilbert, Robert Gilbert, Warren Hill, Leslie Hyde,
Rhoda Lerman, Curtis Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.,
Joan Spence, Jean Stapleton, Ken Toole, and
Margaret "Peg" Zamierowski
The Officers and Members of the Board
The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Friends Committee
Staff and Directors
Program Staff, Presenters and Participants
Girls’ Leadership Workshop Committee, Staff and Alumnae
Community Partnerships with Schools and
Business Participants
Diversity Coalition Members
Elderhostel Presenters and Participants
Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medalists and Presenters
Funders and Donors
And the many, many individuals who have generously
given their time to a cause greater
than us all
This non-definitive history of ERVK was compiled from our files and may be incomplete due to flood damage and human error.
Building the Future…
Dear Friends,
In December 2005, I joined the Eleanor Roosevelt Center as its Executive Director. I did not know much about Mrs.
Roosevelt; however, I shared her passion about social justice, human rights, and human dignity. Indeed one of the
great pleasures of this position has been discovering this remarkable individual.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s life reflects someone who lived fully into her capacity as a human being. She used all adversity—
the tragedy of being orphaned by the age of 10, demeaning remarks about her physical appearance by her mother,
and her less than demonstrative childhood—as stepping stones to compassion rather than bitterness. Born into a life
of privilege, she used it as a powerful vehicle to exercise this compassion in the service of humanity rather than just a
comfortable life. She worked to overcome personal shyness to become a spokesperson for the voiceless. Eleanor
Roosevelt not only saw the big picture; she saw the human face of each issue. She sought creative ways to overcome
injustices—holding an all women’s press conference in the White House to push for more women reporters; sitting in
the aisle rather than in segregated church pews. She was unconventional, yet attended to very conventional tasks of
working, entertaining, and mothering. Everything that Mrs. Roosevelt did formed a connection between her and
others and ultimately to our own humanity.
Eleanor Roosevelt was a person ahead of her time. And the world needs her
spirit and inspiration now more than ever.
I am honored and humbled to be at the helm of the organization working to build on her living legacy—a legacy of
leadership, activism, diplomacy, citizenship, social change, social justice, courage, and hope. I believe the programs
and initiatives that the Eleanor Roosevelt Center undertakes over the next five years will build on the strengths and
achievements of the past 30 years and ensure that Mrs. Roosevelt’s legacy remains vibrant for many decades to come.
In the process of preserving and building on her living legacy, we will help to create the world she so boldly
envisioned—a world where social justice, peace, and human dignity prevails. As Mrs. Roosevelt reminds us:
“We can build the kind of world we want. Nothing can stop us but inaction,
lack of imagination, and lack of courage.”
I invite you to be part of her legacy, to help build this imagined world.
With my warmest regards,
Cathy Collins
Executive Director
…Learning from the Past
Dear Friends,
The most lasting memory I have of my time as the first Executive Director of ERVK was the wonderful opportunity to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt.
Peg Zamierowski, my indispensable assistant in every aspect of our work, and I were determined to know as much as possible about her and her life so
that we would have a solid foundation for our work carrying out the policies of the Board, both in program development and in fund-raising. ERVK
can never be a substitute for Eleanor Roosevelt, but we recognized that the more the organization knew about her principles and her approach to
solving problems the better the organization could promote her legacy. We read and saw how she involved not only those who might have the power
to resolve an issue, but also those to whom the problem had personal significance.
Learning about Eleanor Roosevelt could almost seem to be a luxury, but really it was
the raw material from which we and the Board began to fashion the organization.
Peg and I worked in a small office at Bellefield where the National Park Service had its headquarters. We were in constant communication with
Superintendent Warren Hill, site manager Margaret Partridge, and Park Rangers, including Franceska Macsali-Urbin. Both organizations were
feeling their way in carrying out the cooperative agreement. At that time the NPS was in charge of restoring the grounds and making the buildings
structurally sound. The Park Service was also preparing the "factory" building, which had served as Mrs. Roosevelt's home, for interpretation for
visitors. We eventually moved to Stone Cottage, which we used for office space and for programs. At one time, the stable was considered as a site
for environmental and/or crafts programs to be undertaken by ERVK.
The very first ERVK program was a collaboration with the organization Women in Government, which sponsored and underwrote the event.
For programs with which there was another organization involved, our approach was to begin with a brief overview of Eleanor Roosevelt's life and
ideals and then to allow the other organization to proceed with its program. We also sponsored our own programs such as Youth and Citizenship,
Women and Work, an environmental program with Poughkeepsie Day School, and a planning conference involving representatives of national
organizations that shared Mrs. Roosevelt's beliefs. The Friends group began the yearly celebration of Mrs. Roosevelt's birthday with a party at
Bellefield. We and the Board were feeling our way in developing program, as we had learned that Mrs. Roosevelt had an insatiable curiosity and
was really interested in everything! Still, the programs committee continued to work to develop a more focused approach. I suspect that program
ideas continue to abound today.
Peg and I also provided support to the Board as it worked to secure a solid financial base, a task which continues to be a primary responsibility
of the Board today.
I have very happy memories of my tenure as Executive Director, working with Peg and the Board. If I were to give any advice, it would be to spend
the time learning about Eleanor Roosevelt.
The more I learned, the more I came to admire her integrity, her courage, and her
willingness to respect the innate humanity of every individual regardless of race,
class, or any of the categories which so often divide us.
Warm wishes for continued success,
Joan Spence
First Executive Director
"About the only value the story of my life may have is to show that one can, even without any
particular gifts, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable if one is willing to face the
fact that they must be overcome." ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
That Eleanor Roosevelt’s life story is one of determination to overcome obstacles is evident.
That she lacked special gifts is debatable. That she developed and dedicated her abilities
to public service and became one of the great humanitarians of our time is undeniable.
"I was a shy, solemn child…" Christened Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, she was the only
daughter of three children born to Anna Hall and Elliot Roosevelt. Considered plain
in appearance, she was a disappointment to her mother who was a belle in New York
society. But her father, Elliot, adored Eleanor and she in turn worshiped him. Eleanor
was eight years old when her mother died. Two years later she lost her beloved father
to alcoholism—a loss Eleanor would feel the remainder of her life.
"This was the first time in my life my fears left me." Until Eleanor went to Allenswood
School in England at the age of 15, she lived a lonely life with her grandmother. Eleanor’s
time at Allenswood, under the tutelage of Headmistress Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre,
instilled in her the seeds of self-confidence and independence as well as an awareness of other
cultures and the world around her.
Three years later she returned to the United States where she was expected to conform to the
established rules of her social class. This meant that at age18, regardless of any reluctance on her
part, she had to attend an endless round of parties and similar functions to "come out" into society.
"My chief objective as a girl was to do my duty. I did whatever was required of me, hoping
it would bring me nearer to the approval and love I so much wanted."
She would bring this sense of duty to her marriage. In 1905, on St. Patrick’s Day, Eleanor Roosevelt
married Franklin D. Roosevelt, her 5th cousin.
During the first 10 years of her marriage Eleanor Roosevelt’s main focus in life was being a wife and
mother. Between 1906 and 1916, she gave birth to six children. Her focus changed dramatically and
irrevocably in 1921 after FDR contracted polio. From that time until her death she would
become an increasingly public and political person. She became more involved in various
organizations including the League of Women Voters, the Women’s Trade
Union League, and the Democratic State Committee. The more she
participated in these groups the farther away she grew from her old lifestyle.
She became interested in teaching through her friendship with Nancy Cook
and Marion Dickerman. Together the three women purchased the Tod Hunter
School for girls and Mrs. Roosevelt taught there. They also started a furniture
factory at Val-Kill in Hyde Park as a joint experimental venture to provide
additional income for farm youth. "The function of democratic living is
not to lower standards but to raise those that have been too low."
FDR’s election to the Presidency completed her transition from a dependent family-oriented individual to and self-sufficient public-minded
woman. During the Roosevelt Presidency, she managed to change forever the public’s concept of the First Lady.
Eleanor Roosevelt traveled extensively throughout the country, returning with detailed reports of all she had observed. She visited povertystricken rural areas, city slums, and even coalmines and prisons. She brought to her husband’s attention the conditions in the country that
she considered unjust or intolerable, urging swift action to alleviate them. Women, African Americans, youth, the unemployed, and the
impoverished were all groups in which Mrs. Roosevelt took a personal interest.
Though her official duties were demanding, she managed to write a daily newspaper column called "My Day," seeing it as a means of
keeping the public informed and engaging them in the work of the White House. She continued this column until her death.
When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, Mrs. Roosevelt told the press, "the story is over." Her thoughts of a relatively quiet retirement to her
cottage at Val-Kill were never realized. In 1946, at President Truman’s request, she became a member of the delegation to the organizational
meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. She served as a delegate to the UN General Assembly for six years and was the United States
representative on the UN Human Rights Commission. She became the chair of this commission and worked tirelessly in the drafting and
acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "During my years at the UN, it was my work on the Human Rights
Commission that I considered my most important task."
In 1952, following her resignation from the UN, she became in effect a good will Ambassador for the United States—a first lady to the world.
Her interest in and concern for humanity throughout the world remained boundless.
Mrs. Roosevelt continued to be an important force in the Democratic Party. In 1960, John Kennedy sought her support for his candidacy.
She also worked for the American Association for the United Nations, hosted a T.V. talk show from 1950 to 1962, became a visiting lecturer at
Brandeis University, served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Peace Corps, and presided on the commission on the Status of Women.
And still she found time to entertain, listen to, or advise the endless stream of friends, family, and foreign dignitaries who visited Val-Kill.
Only death, in late 1962 at the age of 78, would end Eleanor Roosevelt’s fight for the betterment of humanity and her daily
connection to it. In 1960 during a reflective moment, Eleanor Roosevelt summarized the struggles and achievements of her life:
"In the beginning, because I felt, as only a girl can feel it, all the pain of being an ugly duckling, I was not only timid, I was
afraid…my one overwhelming need in those days was to be approved … and I did whatever was required of me … As a young
woman, my sense of duty remained strict … It was not until I reached middle age that I had the courage to develop interests of my
own…From that time on, though I have had many problems, though I have known grief and the loneliness that are the lot of most
human beings, I have never been bored, never found the days long enough for the range of activities with which I wanted to fill
them. And, having learned to stare down fear, I long ago reached the point where there is no living person whom I fear, and few
challenges that I am not willing to face."
Stone Cottage was the idea of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who
heard his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, and her friends complain
during a picnic at their favorite site, that they had no place
of their own where they could entertain their guests and
work for their causes. FDR worked with architect Henry
Toombs to build the Dutch Colonial style cottage that Nancy
Cook and Marion Dickerman made their home from 1925
until 1947. Eleanor Roosevelt shared the cottage with them
on weekends and vacations. The three were deeply involved
in the New York State Democratic Party, and Stone Cottage
became the center for their political and social activism.
FDR visited frequently and many notable guests were
entertained there, especially during the summer.
The Story of Val-Kill
Shortly after Stone Cottage was built, the three women along with their friend Caroline ODay,
established Val-Kill Furniture, a shop training local people in furniture-making crafts, in an effort
to help boost the local agricultural economy during the winter so they would not have to leave
the area. The effort soon grew to earn the name Val-Kill Industries and included a pewter forge
and homespun weaving component. Although not a financial success, the business survived
during the worst years of the Depression. The effort concluded in 1936, when the factory was
"Val-Kill is where I used to find myself and grow.
At Val-Kill I emerged as an individual."
The factory’s demise provided Eleanor Roosevelt with her first opportunity to create a home of
her own. In 1937, she converted the old factory into an apartment for herself and her personal
secretary, Malvina "Tommy" Thompson. She called it Val-Kill Cottage. Although she lived with
her husband at the Roosevelt home, Springwood, Val-Kill became her private sanctuary and a
comfortable place to entertain her guests, and after the death of President Roosevelt in 1945,
her permanent home. Eleanor Roosevelt considered Val-Kill to be her one true home where she
could be herself. She continued to entertain family, friends, and prominent figures of the day.
After Eleanor Roosevelt’s friends moved from Stone Cottage, son John Roosevelt and his family
moved in and added the dormer and enclosed the porch. In 1970, the house was sold to private
developers who intended to convert the property into a nursing home/retirement community.
In the fall of 1975, members of the Hyde Park Visual Environment Committee and a staff
member of the New York State Lieutenant Governor’s Office began efforts to save Val-Kill.
By the spring of 1976 a subcommittee, the Eleanor Roosevelt Cottage Committee, had been
formed to give full focus to these efforts. A presentation to the community was made in June
of 1976, which included a special staging of Rhoda Lerman’s play Soul of Iron, performed by
Jean Stapleton.
Legislation was introduced into Congress to establish the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic
Site. After only 66 days—record time–in May of 1977, a bill was signed into law establishing
the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. As part of the legislation, a unique cooperative
agreement was allowed between the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill and the National Park
Service. The Eleanor Roosevelt Center offices have been housed in Stone Cottage since Val-Kill
officially opened in 1984.
The programming work undertaken by the
Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill during the
last 30 years has concentrated on preserving and
building on her legacy in human rights and human
dignity. Although the world has witnessed many
changes—the explosion of technology, the fall of
the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, the rise
of terrorism, and the expansion of available
consumer goods
sadly, the humanitarian
concerns championed by Mrs.
Roosevelt have remained
Indeed many of these changes have placed
additional pressure on our capacity to uphold
human rights and social justice. Now is a time
of momentous choices: unity or division; civic
responsibility or a decline in democracy; human
dignity or human oppression. Yet we are also
faced with unique opportunities for connection,
community, and collaboration.
Now, more than ever, the world
needs Mrs. Roosevelt.
Since its inception, the Eleanor Roosevelt
Center at Val-Kill has been committed to
being Mrs. Roosevelt’s voice and presence—bringing her ideals, her sense of
action, her compassionate leadership,
and her vision of humanity to people in
her beloved Hudson Valley, across the
nation, and increasingly throughout the
world. The Eleanor Roosevelt Center has
created significant small-scale projects
and ongoing programs inspired by
Eleanor Roosevelt’s values and example.
From Val-Kill
to the World
Friends Committee of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill
The Friends Committee of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center–a group of dedicated volunteers (some of whom
knew Mrs. Roosevelt)—provides year-round weekend docents to welcome visitors to Stone Cottage and
conducts four seasonal programs designed to bring the Eleanor Roosevelt Center into closer contact with
the local community.
Commemorating Eleanor Roosevelt’s Birthday—Since 1979, the Friends Committee of the
Eleanor Roosevelt Center hosts a special reception close to Mrs. Roosevelt’s October 11th
New Citizens Event—Since 1988, the Friends Committee carries forward one of Mrs. Roosevelt’s
favorite traditions–welcoming new U.S. citizens to celebrate the 4th of July and hear the
Declaration of Independence read.
Spring Brunch/Picnic—Each spring, the Friends Committee invites the public to Val-Kill to share
stories and reminiscences about Mrs. Roosevelt. For the 30th Anniversary, the Eleanor Roosevelt
Center partnered with the National Park Service, Save America’s Treasures: Honoring Eleanor
Roosevelt: A Project To Preserve her Val-Kill Home, and the Roosevelt Vanderbilt Historical
Association to host a celebratory picnic, which will become an annual event.
Candlelight Ceremony—Each December, special people in Dutchess County are honored for
the difference they make in the lives of individuals and their community. A special Candlelight
Award is given to a person who has contributed tirelessly to their community without the
expectation of recognition.
1987 Convened invitational Conference on Eleanor and the Arts
Held authentic Eleanor Roosevelt Picnic and Exhibition of Crafts by disabled artisans
Hosted a lecture on the King and Queen of England’s 1939 visit to Hyde Park (given
by William Emerson of FDR Library at Stone Cottage)
1991-2006 Conducted programs about Eleanor Roosevelt
1978 Hosted a Conference for the Center for Women in Government—
Leadership Training for Union Women
1981 Commissioned report completed: Eleanor Roosevelt:
Women and Work—Considerations for the1980s
1983 Conducted panel discussion: Women, Money, and Politics
1985 Held weekend program at Stone Cottage with National
Women’s Democratic Club
1989 Participated in special exhibition on important women in America
1990 Conducted Women’s History Conference:
Women as Community Standard Bearers Working Cooperatively—
workshops included Women and Law, Women and Health Care,
Women Earning a Living, Women as a Force for Good in the Community,
Women in the Changing American Family
1996 Co-sponsored Women’s Worth: Beijing and Beyond
Inspired by the 1995 Beijing UN World Conference on Women,
the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill developed the Girls’
Leadership Workshop. Two nine-day programs each summer
educate, empower, and activate adolescent girls to become the
next generation of social justice leaders.
rigid gender-role expectations, and plummeting self-esteem.
As a counterbalance to these challenges, GLW carries out the
mission and legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt by promoting human
rights, gender and racial equality, and the responsibilities of
citizenship. The Girls’ Leadership Workshop:
At Val-Kill, high school girls celebrate the life and legacy of
Eleanor Roosevelt, develop their leadership skills, and strengthen
their commitment and confidence to make a difference in their
communities. The Girls’ Leadership Workshop helps girls
believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.
The participants of the Girls’ Leadership Workshop constitute
a diverse group of exceptional girls from across the United
States and increasingly from around the world. Each year, 25%
of the spots are reserved girls residing in the Hudson Valley.
Girls are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to
community service and social justice, maturity and leadership
potential, and academic and extracurricular achievement. The
costs of the program are underwritten by grants and donations.
In this inclusive environment, learning and growth occur through
the rich interplay of the diverse regional, racial, cultural, and
socioeconomic backgrounds of those who gather at Val-Kill.
"GLW is a perfect little nine-day package
that celebrates both the individual and
the power of collaboration. It feels like
GLW has issued me a sort of friendly
mandate: ‘Go out into the world and
assert yourself!’" Stasha R.
The Girls’ Leadership Workshop reaches girls during a critical
period in their development when many young women may
become distracted and sometimes derailed by societal pressures,
The girls report substantive growth in their understanding
of and appreciation for the leadership exercised by Eleanor
Roosevelt. They leave with enhanced personal confidence,
knowledge of women's history, commitment to community
service, leadership skills, and expectations for their own
futures. They are ready to live the life described by Eleanor
Roosevelt as "brave, exciting, and imaginative.”
Nurtures active citizenship, sisterhood, and concern for social justice
Teaches leadership skills, attitudes, and behaviors
Builds the self-awareness and self-confidence needed to exercise leadership
Encourages personal strength, discipline, courage, and compassion
Introduces positive role models and presents a wide range of future career options
Increases knowledge about women’s history and women’s current concerns
Exposes girls to examples of positive leadership action locally and globally
"Because of GLW I have more interest in social change. Learning about Eleanor
Roosevelt, her life and her career, I find myself seeking to emulate her compassion
and fervor for helping to better the world she lived in, so that I may, in turn, better
the world I live in. I do not believe anything is out of my reach just because I am a
woman. I have found my voice and speak out against things I feel are wrong and
speak up when things I care about go unseen. There are many things in the world
that can be improved and it only takes one person who cares to start a reformation."
—Sara B.
Girls return to their schools and communities feeling as if they are starting new
lives of purpose and action where they can make a difference. They apply their
new self-awareness to social justice projects in their home communities. The
Center supports these projects through a Girls in Action competitive mini-grant
program ($50-$400). The Eleanor Roosevelt Center also extends the GLW
experience through maintaining a network of communication and hosting
periodic reunions and symposia, which build on and highlight themes
introduced in the GLW sessions and provide an invaluable vehicle for re-engagement and networking.
The graduates of the Girls’ Leadership Workshop are making a positive impact on the world. They continue the work of Eleanor
Roosevelt to promote human rights and human dignity, racial and gender equality, and the responsibilities of citizenship. Indeed,
the alumnae of GLW become part of her living legacy.
The Girls’ Leadership Program has been generously supported by the Dyson Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America,
and the Handel Foundation as well as numerous corporate
and individual donors. We invite you to make an investment in keeping the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt alive.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force behind the United
Nation’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(UDHR)—hailed as one of the 20th century’s most important
achievements, if not the Magna Carta of the modern age.
It has been observed:
"What Eleanor Roosevelt wanted…
was that the UDHR should be a ringing
declaration that could be easily memorized
by school children all over the world."
She considered her work on creating the UDHR to be her
greatest achievement.
Since its inception, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center has actively
promoted human rights and human rights education through
programs focusing on racial harmony, women’s and children’s
rights and empowerment, community involvement, and the
promotion of peaceful mediation of conflicts. It has focused
much of its programmatic attention on human rights in
general and in specific areas such as youth, work and race.
Public Health, Environment, Right to Work
Work and Craft Conference—intended to continue ER’s interests, show dignity of work,
finding personal fulfillment through it
• The Eleanor Roosevelt Center Public Lecture Series
• Collaborated on environmental project with Poughkeepsie Day School—
Focus on The Fallkill – Development of an Interdisciplinary Environmental
Education Curriculum
1986 • Architecture and the Environment
• Report on Nairobi Conference
• Presentation on black athlete Jack Johnson (black history, sports, rights)
1988 •
The Drug Lady: An Insider’s View of the Teenager’s World
An American Tribe: The Roosevelt Family
Facing Your Own Mortality—Death and Dying as a Part of Life
Civil Liberties of the Mentally Ill
South Africa and Apartheid
Public Lecture—Dangers of Lyme Disease
1998 • Collaborated with several Mid-Hudson Valley environmental groups on the
Mohonk Conference on Environmental and Human Rights. The Eleanor
Roosevelt Center developed an environmental rights component within the
definition of UDHR. The groups that planned the conference formed a
coalition that seeks to continue to work in the area of environmental justice.
Human Rights and Welfare Reform Monitoring Program
Testified before the New York State Assembly on the impact of welfare reform on children.
Instituted a welfare reform monitoring program examining human rights issues emerging
from the transition from welfare to work. The monitoring effort was a collaboration
between the Eleanor Roosevelt Center and more than 25 human service agencies and
more than 30 monitors in Dutchess County. Four reports were presented to the
Dutchess County Legislature, the Dutchess County Department of Social Services (DSS),
the media, and the community detailing violations and positive developments affecting
children, immigrants, and DSS caseworker client relationships.
Participated in a New York statewide conference on Welfare Reform and Human Rights
that took place at Vassar College. Those attending this conference returned to Val-Kill to
form a coalition of groups that now meets regularly to discuss and define an agenda for welfare
reform-related issues.
Surveyed those being transitioned off public assistance. A report synthesizing the results
of these efforts was published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Center: What Would Roosevelt Think?
Human Rights and the Impact of Welfare Reform on the Residents of Dutchess County, New York.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Lectures on Human Rights:
The Unfinished Agenda
1998-2002• Torture and Inhuman Punishment, Ambassador Morris Abram, Chairman of United Nations
Watch, Brandeis University
• Rights of the Child, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Georgetown University
• Gender Equality, Gloria Steinem, Spelman College
• Genocide, Judge Richard Gladstone, former UN War Crimes Prosecutor, Marist College
• Social and Economic Rights, Oscar Arias, Nobel Prize Laureate and former Costa Rican
President, Hunter College
• Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Jane Alexander, Eleanor Roosevelt College
of the University of California, San Diego
• Political Rights, Harold Hongju Koh, professor of international law at Yale Law School and
Assistant Secretary of State for human rights in the Clinton administration, Vassar College
Summer Teachers’ Workshop—Teaching Human Rights
1998-2000 Conducted human rights education training programs for high school and
middle school teachers from New York’s Mid-Hudson region.
Held public Lectures Forum on Overcoming Barriers.
Conducted Racism Symposium to bring Dutchess County, community together to
research racism locally and bring about change.
1987-1999 With support from United Way of Dutchess County ERVK, created Enhancing Racial
Harmony program which resulted in the following initiatives:
• Children at War
Explored the roots of racism. A, which sponsored a visit by the Children of War, a
group of young people from war-torn countries (Israel, South Africa, Palestine,
Namibia) who visited local high schools, took part in a racism conference, and
participated in a public forum at Vassar College.
• Youth Against Racism (YAR)—An outgrowth of the Children at War program, ERVK
created a program for high school students in Dutchess County raising awareness about racism
and ways to combat it. The program continued through 2005 under the direction of the YWCA
of Dutchess County.
Responding to heightened interracial tensions following the Tawana Brawley case in 1988, the Eleanor
Roosevelt Center co-sponsored with the Martin Luther King, Jr. New York State Commission a groundbreaking electronic town meeting that brought out public concerns about institutionalized negative racial
and ethnic attitudes. A series of "focus groups" were created to promote dialogue in areas of education,
housing, employment, criminal justice, and the media. During its four-year tenure, the program was
successful in bringing together diverse constituencies in the community to explore solutions to social problems.
••Held symposium—The Role of the Media in Shaping Racial Attitudes
• Convened a day-long National Issue Forum in 1999:
Economic Opportunity in a Culturally Diverse
Community. Four task forces were formed by the
Race Relations Committee to address issues identified
at the forum and resulted in the creation of the
Diversity Coalition.
Eleanor Roosevelt Center Diversity Coalition
The Eleanor Roosevelt Center Diversity Coalition is a group
of committees and initiatives designed to address barriers to
employment and promote diversity in the workplace and
includes more than 100 local businesses, nonprofits, and
educational facilities. The work of the Diversity Coalition
continues at quarterly networking events where educational
components are offered, along with other special educational
Conducted Museum Education Project to train teachers as site
interpreters to students visiting Val-Kill
Hosted Russian teachers’ visit to Val-Kill
Participated in IBM Executive on Loan. The executive gave
numerous lectures about Mrs. Roosevelt and Val-Kill—to a school
in Maine, to Marist history students, and to local high schools.
Community Partnerships with Schools and Business
An alliance with the Poughkeepsie Central School District created
the Partnership with Schools and Businesses in which the Eleanor
Roosevelt Center facilitated an internship and mentoring program
for high school students, pairing them with businesses to provide
after-school employment and career exploration.
The CPSB program, designed to be a year-long experience for the
participants, has three main components: orientation/work skills
education, the community internship, and academic/social support.
Some school districts have integrated the program into their own
curricula. Other schools rely on a community organization to
coordinate the efforts. ERVK facilitates communication among the
partners to ensure consistency in program practices.
Urban and rural school districts in the program reported success in
keeping kids in school and preparing them for employment or higher
education, ultimately helping keep them off welfare as adults.
Convened a conference on workforce education involving members
of the Dutchess County business community, the local school systems,
the universities, and the members of the public.
Participated in conference on world hunger – sponsored by Marist College and held at
Val-Kill—to build awareness about world hunger and the importance of ending it
Acted as host to the Marist Conference—International Peace Studies
Participated in Human Rights Roundtable Education Committee: sponsored Beyond Tolerance
workshops with one of them held at Val-Kill.
ERVK was a founding organization with a committee of 125 non-governmental organizations, led the Franklin and
Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR). ERVK granted Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status in association with UN’s
Department of Public Information.
Celebrated 60th Anniversary of the Weaving Experiment—cooperative venture
with National Park Service and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential
Library and Museum—to display original loom used by Nelly Johannesen
at Stone Cottage—and guest weaver demonstrated techniques used during
time of Val-Kill Industries
Collaborated on the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum with programs at
the Museum and at Stone Cottage to introduce Eleanor Roosevelt to
children as a relevant role model and heroine.
Collaborated with and supported efforts by the Women’s Action
Coalition, a women’s network in Dutchess County, on a Beijing Women’s
Conference follow-up. The coalition worked to advance a local agenda
dedicated to the goals of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held
in Beijing in 1995. The Women’s Action Coalition held a series of
subject-specific meetings to promote the agenda.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Center participated in dedication of Franklin D.
Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, and sponsored the Eleanor
Roosevelt film
Membership in the Partners of the Americas program that links locales in
the U.S. with those in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Partners of the
Americas has sponsored the participation of high-school girls from Dominica
in ERVK’s Girls’ Leadership Workshop.
Eleanor Roosevelt Center sponsored public panel discussion to welcome
publication of the Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia
Celebrating the Legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt
The history of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill would be incomplete without acknowledging the tireless efforts of literally
thousands of volunteers and donors. The extraordinary dedication of the Friends Committee deserves special recognition.
Without them and countless others the work would not have been possible. Moving forward we warmly invite new generations
to give, to support, and to volunteer.
We wish to specifically acknowledge with gratitude the efforts of our esteemed Board Members:
Board Service
Ad Hoc Committee for Val-Kill 1976
Anthony O’Brien, Chairman
James E. Spratt, Jr.
Marty Stuart
Adrienne Weise
Alan Bloom
Raymond Connelly
Glen Raymond
Roger Golden
Barbara Adams – 1990-1992
Frances Adams – 1987-1992
James Abourezk – 1982-1983
Maureen Andola – 1996-1998
Lark-Marie Antón – 2005 to Present
Jacquelyn Appeldorn – 2007
Claudia Archimede – 1991-1992, 1994-1996
(Secretary, 1996)
Cortland Pell Auser –- 1983, 1985-1987
(Vice President, 1985)
Bernice Baer – 1978-1983
David Bagley – 2007
Hazel Barcher – 1996
Robin Bell-Stevens – 1998-1999
Victoria Best – 1987-1989
(Vice President, 1989)
Barbara Ann Birleffi – 2007
Allida Black – 1995-1999
Leon Bloom – 1982-1983
Antonio Borrero – 1992-1993
Roland Butts – 1995-2001
(Secretary, 1998)
Angela Cabrera – 1998-2003
Anthony Campilii – 2005 to Present
Ernest Cannava – 1988-1991
Eleanor Charwat – 1980-1983
(President, 1981, 1982)
Sey Chassler – 1983-1984
Glen Clarke – 1999-2001
Lucy Cohan – 1993-1999
Blanche Wiesen Cook – 2007
Gladys Cooper – 2000-2003
Thomas Cooper – 1987-1992
Gregory Craig – 1983-1984
Beverly Denbo – 1982-1985
Sudhir Desai – 1991-1993
Nancy Dubner – 1977-1985
(Vice President, 1977-1981)
Michael Englert – 1989-1995
Wendy Roosevelt Fahy – 2002 to Present
(Vice President, 1990; President, 1991-1992)
Paul Ganci – 1988-1992
Felice Gaer – 2004 to Present
Meera T. Gandhi – 2005 to Present
Joyce Ghee – 1977-1979; 1981-1989
(Vice President, 1977-1979;
Vice President, 1983-1984; President, 1985-1988)
Nina Roosevelt Gibson – 1982-1985
(President, 1983-1984)
Lou Glasse – 1982-1984
(Secretary-Treasurer, 1983)
John Golden – 1992
Diana Goldin – 2001-2006
(Vice President, 2003-2004)
Doris Kearns Goodwin – 2000-2002
Phyllis Greenfield – 1989-1992
(Vice President, 1990-1992)
Edna Gurewitsch – 2002-2003
Reginetta Haboucha – 1995-2003
(Vice President, 2000; President, 2001-2002)
Shirley Handel – 1995-1997; 1998-2001
(Treasurer, 1998, Secretary, 1999)
Benjamin Hayden – 1986-1988
(Vice President., 1987)
Joanne Hayes – 1988-1989; 1994-1999
Mary Lou Heissenbuttel – 1998-2003
Eileen Hickey – 1994-1998
David Hill – 2007
The Hon. Maurice Hinchey –1984
Nancy Hodgkins – 1995-1998
(Secretary, 1997)
Patricia Howe – 1978-1981
Leslie C. Hyde –1977-1980
(Secretary-Treasurer, 1978-1979)
Glen Johnson – 1986-1989; 1993-2001
(Secretary-Treasurer,-1988; Vice President, 1989,
1995-1996; President, 1997-2000)
Thad Jones – 2004 to Present
Yolanda Kaake – 2005 to Present
Bernard Kessler –1977-1979
Rev. Gordon Kidd – 1980-1984
Margaret King – 1998-2003
Lewis C. Kirschner – 2001-2006
Susan Marshall LaPine – 2004-2006
Linda Lamel – 1983-1984
Rhoda Lerman – 1977-1980
Judith Lewittes – 1994-1999; 2001-2006
(Vice President, 1997-1999)
Patricia Lichtenberg – 1996-2001
Estelle Linzer – 1991-1997
(President, 1993-1994)
Brian Lukacher – 1991-1992
Cora Mallory-Davis –2003 to Present
(Secretary, 2005; Vice President, 2006 to Present)
Lawrence Mamiya – 1991-1997 (Secretary 1992)
Timmian C. Massie – 2000-2006 (Secretary, 2002)
Edith P. Mayo – 2001-2003
Sally Mazzarella – 1985-1987
(Secretary-Treasurer, 1986-1987)
Mary McGowan – 2004 to Present
(Treasurer, to Present)
Betty McMicken – 1986-1989
Helen Michalosky – 1990
Joyce Mintz – 1986-1990
Mary L. Moody – 2004 to Present (Chair, 2005-2006)
JoAnne Myers – 2006 to Present (Vice President, to Present)
Kip Bleakley O’Neill – 2002-currently
(Secretary, 2003-2004; First Vice President, 2005-2006)
Hannah Pakula – 2002-2004
James Passikoff – 1998-2003
(Treasurer, 1999-2003)
Floyd Patterson – 1982
Lucille Pattison – 1978-1982
Esther Peterson – 1983-1984
Jane Plakias – 1989-1994; 2004 to Present
George Prisco – 1991-1992
Gerry Raker – 1979-1984
Bernice Regunberg – 1992-1998
Richard Reitano – 1990, 2004
Lorraine Roberts – 2002 to Present
(Treasurer, 2004-2006; Secretary, to Present)
Curtis Roosevelt – 1977 (Chairman)
FD Roosevelt, Jr. – 1977-1979
James Roosevelt – 1982-1984
Manual Rosa – 1995-1998
Pamela Conrad Rosenberg – 2006 to Present
Stephen Schector – 1990
William Scheuerman – 1999-2001
Betty G. Schlein – 1982-1985
Peter Schoonmaker – 1982-1984
Sheila Scott – 1991-97
(Secretary-Treasurer, 1991; Treasurer, 1992-1997)
Paul Scudiere – 1990
Eleanor Roosevelt Seagraves – 1980-1984
Elayne Seaman – 1991-1997; 1999-2004
(Secretary, 1993-1994; Vice President, 2001-2002; President, 2003-2004)
Brianne Seipp – 1980, 1982
Lisa Semple – 2000-2001
The Hon. Gail Shaffer – 1984
Sandra Shapard – 1979-1982 (Secretary-Treasurer, 1982)
Hollis Shaw – 1992-1993
Nancy Shear – 1985-1989
Elizabeth Shequine – 1980-1981
Michael Shore – 1990
Ruth Shulman – 1983-1989
(Vice President – 1983, 1984)
Sandra Sias-Valenti Reichelt – 2001
Diane Simmons – 1992-1994
Kathleen Tenere Smith – 2000-2002
Dr. Virginia Smith – 1983-1984
Joan Spence – 1977; 1980-1981; 1985-1990
(Vice President, 1988; Secretary-Treasurer, 1989-1990)
Thomas Spence – 1999
Jean Stapleton – 1977-1984
Lawrence Sullivan – 1981 (Secretary-Treasurer, 1981)
Frances Taft – 1998-2006
John Tarleton – 1999-2000
Marie Tarver – 1991-1998; 2003 to Present
Arabella Teal – 2004-2005
Kenneth Toole – 1977-1986;
(President, 1977-1980; Vice President, 1981-1983; Secretary.-Treasurer, 1984-1986
Marc vanderHeyden – 1993-1998; 2001-2006 (Vice President, 1994; President, 1995-1996)
Mary Jane Von Allmen – 2004 to Present (Chair, to Present)
Benjamin Walker – 2000-2001 (Secretary, 2001)
Felicia Walker – 1989-1990
Hulda (Patsy) Walsh – 1980-1982
Donald Weber – 1979-1983 (Secretary-Treasurer, 1980)
Evelyn Wengrofsky – 1980-1982 (Vice President., 1981-1982)
Lillian Weigert – 2004-2006
John Willmott – 1984-1988 (Vice President, 1985-1988)
Stephen Wing – 2002-2004
Margaret Zamierowski – 1985-1990; 2000-2005 (President, 1989-1990)
Herbert Zohn – 1998-2003
Paul Cole III, National Park Service
William Emerson – Ex-Officio Director, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Presidential Library and Museum
Dixon Freeland – Ex-Officio (Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historic Sites)
Michael Henderson, – National Park Service
Cynthia Koch – Director, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Franceska Macsali-Urbin – Supervisory Park Ranger/Secretary, Friends of Val-Kill
Verne Newton – Director, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Sarah Olson – Superintendent, Roosevelt Vanderbilt National Historic Site
Duane Pearson – Superintendent, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site –
Hyde Park, NY
The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal
Starting in 1987, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center launched the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal to recognize exceptional people
who embody Mrs. Roosevelt’s spirit and legacy. This medal symbolizes her humanitarian concerns evidenced in today’s society.
It celebrates individuals and organizations of high ideals and courageous actions in their fields.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Ceremony honors individuals and organizations that make significant contributions in
citizenship, education, the arts, community services, philanthropy, and other humanitarian concerns. The ceremony, held at
Val-Kill on the grounds of the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York, presents inspirational role
models for the world at large and sets a standard for community values..
Cherie Blair
Pumla GobodoMadikezela
Curtis Roosevelt
Scenic Hudson
John Dyson
Helene Gayle
Colette Lafuente
Gabe Pressman
Anne Tatlock
M. Farooq Kathwari
Elayne Seaman
Harold A. Seaman
Kate Roosevelt Whitney
William D. Zabel
Michael R. Bloomberg
Clara Lou Gould
Kitty Carlisle Hart
Ruth J. Simmons
Joyce Ghee
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Donald M. Stewart
Mike Wallace
Eleanor Charwat
Bill Moyers
Sadaka Ogata
Franklin A. Thomas
Trude W. Lash
Rachel Robinson
Hollis W. Shaw
Margaret R. Zamierowski
John Chancellor
Mary Hart Keeley
Norman Vincent Peale
John C. "Chips" Quinn
Dorothy I. Height
Mathilde Krim
Christopher Reeve
Joan Sherman
Jonah Sherman
Dennis J. Murray
Her Majesty, Queen Noor
of Jordan
Lea Rabin
Frances S. Reese
Hamilton Fish, Jr.
Schuyler M. Meyer
Cynthia Parsons
Marie N. Tarver
Ruth Cardos
Emilie B. Dyson
RoberT R. Dyson
Richard Gere
Jessye Norman
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hamilton Meserve
Helen Meserve
Pete Seeger
Johnetta B. Cole
Vartan Gregorian
Hannah C. Pakula
Martha Settle Putney
H. Peter Stern
Anne E. Dyson
Frances D. Fergusson
Richard C. Holbrooke
James Earl Jones
Mariam Wright Edelman
Mary Lou Heissenbuttel
Lucille Pattison
Fred Rogers
Edward Asner
Barbara Jordan
Jack A. McEnroe
Ethel C. Torgesen
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Esther Peterson
Father Bruce Ritter
Rabbi Erwin Zimet
Mother Clara McBride
Eugene M. Lang
Helene Hayes McArthur
Richard K. Wager
Harry Belafonte
Trevor Ferrell
Celeste Holm
John E. Mack III
Jean Stapleton
"Surely, in the light
of history, it is more
intelligent to hope
rather than to fear,
to try rather than not
to try. For one thing
we know beyond all doubt. Nothing has
ever been achieved by the person who says,
It can’t be done.’"
Inside back cover