Ann Giordano was born in Brooklyn, New York. She is a member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg-Greenpoint. Ann learned the relevance of collective action at an early age when she volunteered to run a candy store after the owner, an elder member of the community, collapsed. Throughout the years she became a community leader, organizing the residents of Williamsburg-Greenpoint to solve problems facing their community. She led Operation Main Street to rehabilitate Grand Street through a process of beautification and business improvement. Continue reading
Margaret Carnegie was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, on April 27, 1910. She moved to New York in 1920 where she attended the Florence Garnett Training School for Girls, Junior High School 136, and Morris High School in the Bronx. In 1953, Carnegie moved to the recently built Cooper Park Houses. For the next forty years of her life, she became deeply involved in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg community. Carnegie had a special interest in improving the livelihood of seniors. She worked for better housing and safety for the elderly, as well as activities for their mental and physical health. She is credited with bringing ‘Grandparents Day’ (first Sunday after Labor Day) to New York. Grandparents Avenue, located along a section of Continue reading
Tish and Guido are married partners in life as well as in advocacy. Lifetime Brooklyn residents, they were members of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation (GREC). In 1978 they formed the Concerned Citizens of Withers Street and Area Block Association. One year later, Tish graduated from the Neighborhood Women College Program with Continue reading
A native of North Carolina, Mildred served as president of the Cooper Park Tenants Association for many years. A devout worshiper in the Free Gift Baptist Church, Mildred manifested her faith in the community by establishing youth and headstart programs, getting sidewalks and play areas built, and revitalizing the community center. She represented Copper Park Houses on GREC Community Coalition. Continue reading
Marie Leanza talks to Jan Peterson about how she became a neighborhood activist and leader with the support and guidance of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women. This interview was made during the summer of 2016.
Marie is a lifelong Williamsburg resident. She became involved in 1975 with the National Congress of Neighborhood Women through the Neighborhood Women College Program. Marie Leanza worked for over three decades at St Nicks Alliance specializing in senior housing. She led the fight against redlining in Williamsburg, which resulted in a commitment from Anchor Bank to invest five million dollars in the neighborhood. She was key to the establishment of the Building Survival Fund.
Betty was an active community volunteer for many years. From her first floor apartment and porch in the Neighborhood Women Houses, accompanied by her faithful dog, Rocky, she functioned as a neighborhood ambassador, talking and listening to everyone, offering wisdom and friendship. A member of Neighborhood Women Renaissance Housing Board for ten years,
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In 1971, Geraldine Miller founded in New York City the Household Technicians, a group that fought for equal rights for women who worked informally as maids, nannies and cooks. Geraldine understood the struggles of being a household worker because she had started doing domestic work at an early age. The group pressured employers to comply with minimum wage standards and Social Security laws. In 1974, Miller worked closely with Rep. Shirley Chisholm to help household workers win the right to be included in the Federal Minimum Wage Act.
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Jan is founder and director of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW), and a founder and representative to GREC. The women credit Jan as a source of their empowerment. They had done fundraising for their organizations, but were left out of decision-making. “She brought us together and helped us find our power.” Continue reading
Caroline was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Her interest in social justice led her to join the Young Christian Workers in her youth. Her experience working in development transformed into a commitment to empowering grassroots women globally. In the mid-1980s she became leader and board member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW), where she co-designed the Annual Institute on Women and Community Development. Caroline’s vision of a network of grassroots women’s organizations that would act and speak on their own behalf in global development arenas became Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Continue reading
President of Neighborhood Women Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Mary Alice pioneered work on economic development as the first director of a Community Action Program in the 60s. She created the first women’s political party, Williamsburg-Greenpoint Action Alliance Political Club. Continue reading
In this interview with Jan Peterson, Juanitz Orengo-Rodriquez talks about how she found out about the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, learned to become a community activist, and worked for her neighborhood. The interview was made in the summer of 2016.
Juantia Orengo-Rodriguez has been a community activist in Brooklyn for 28 years. She is a member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW), the Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg-Greenpoint (NWWG), GROOTS International, and the Huairou Commission. As a community organizer, she has worked to better the school systems Continue reading
In 1986, Sandy joined the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW). She coordinated the NW College Program, which allowed grassroots women to attend a college that reflected their values, used their neighborhood as the campus, and fostered and formalized their community leadership. At the height of welfare reform in the late 1980s, she protested at City Hall with single mothers in NW’s educational programs, successfully rallying political support to shift job Continue reading
In 1968, grassroots women leaders Elizabeth Speranza, Molly Manna, Tillie Tarantino, Millie LaCioppa, Margaret LaPolla, Marion Varriale, Agnes Grappone, Anna Barone, Frances Anella and Anna Mae Pecora founded the Conselyea Street Block Association (CSBA) to improve the lives of those in Williamsburg-Greenpoint.
In 1969, under the guidance of woman activist Jan Peterson, the CSBA founded the Small World Day Care and Swinging Sixties Community Center to bring services to children, parents and seniors in the community. In 1975, Tillie Tarantino became the Executive Continue reading
In June 1953 Mildred Tudy-Johnston moved into Cooper Park Houses with her three young children. She helped to form the Cooper Park Houses Tenant Association and served as President for many years advocating for issues including fair treatment and racial equality, housing maintenance and better services in the property, better jobs for teens, modern and clean recreational facilities at Cooper Park Continue reading