Elinor Guggenheimer (1912 - 2008)
Elinor Guggenheimer was a living example of how much one individual with an unrelenting passion for social justice and concern for others can accomplish.
One of New York City's most eminent civic leaders, she was an activist for more than half a century, working to improve conditions especially for women, children, and the elderly. From her early years at the Educational Alliance, where she worked with teenage girls, to the founding of the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City in 1979 and the founding of New York Women's Agenda in 1992, Ms. Guggenheimer energized others to push aside barriers that stood in the way of people achieving their highest potential.
Ms. Guggenheimer, an urban planner, became the first woman on the New York City Planning Commission in 1961. In the 1970s, she served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Her vision of women's and families' needs inspired her to found the Day Care Council of New York in 1948, and the Day Care and Child Development Council in 1958. She was also the founder of the Child Care Action Campaign.
Her activism in women's causes moved her to found the New York Women's Forum in 1973, the National Women's Forum in 1981, the International Women's Forum in 1983, and NEW YORK WOMEN'S AGENDA in 1992.
Many of the organizations she gave birth to have grown and prospered far beyond her dreams. For example, CSPS has become the voice for seniors' the leader of a huge family of senior centers serving more than 300,000 older New Yorkers.
NEW YORK WOMEN'S AGENDA, now celebrating its 19th anniversary, has grown from a small coalition of organizations formed to serve women into a proud body of nearly 100 organizations that advocate for women and their families across a broad range of areas. The organization has improved health care for women and their children and worked with local hospitals to provide better services for victims of domestic violence. NYWA also has stimulated growth and development of women-owned businesses, and spearheaded better services for the aging.
She was showered with numerous honors, such as the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1997 and the Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Award. Ladies Home Journal named her one of the 100 Most Important Women in the United States. Crain's New York Business Magazine named her in 1996 One of the Most Powerful Women in New York.She held honorary degrees from Marymount Manhattan College, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and other institutions.
In 1932, she married Randolph Guggenheimer, who died in 1999. She had two sons, and three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.