We bid farewell to our former board presidents: Judith Russ Leon and Marjorie Jenney

The YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts would like to pay tribute to two beloved former Board Presidents, Marjorie Jenney (1962-1967) and Judith Russ Leon (1988-1990). Thank you for your dedication to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. You will be missed….



Marjorie Jenney

~October 14, 1921 – May 12, 2017~

Please click HERE to be directed to Mrs. Jenney’s obituary

Marjorie ” Marge” Jenney took on responsibility early in life.  After her father died when she was just ten years old, she ran the house as the youngest of four children.  At the age of 12, she ran her mother’s thirty-room boarding house. At this time, she went to the YWCA quite a few times a week and became highly involved as a teen.  In 1937, she was the youngest drum majorette in the marching band at New Bedford High School, and remained a member of band and orchestra throughout school.  She was President of her high school class. She even met her husband-to-be playing clarinet in the band, at the age of 13. He played the flute.

Marjorie put her husband through medical school working at an accounting office, and later working at an insurance company, she put herself through school at the University of Hartford. At the YWCA, she taught financial and investment classes to women. As president, she held two to three hundred person meetings and went to Washington D.C. for conferences.  Marjorie also started a widowed persons program, the West End Investment Club, and the Next-to-New Shop. As president, she brought several items to the attention of the YWCA board of directors, as a result of her foresight.

Marjorie also opened, furnished, and ran her husband’s medical practice.  She held office with the American Field Service, and brought the first AFS students to New Bedford with a total of four students starting in 1954.  She was a member of St. Luke’s Hospital Auxillary, as well as the League of Women Voters. Marjorie was also a board member of New Bedford Library Investment, Coastline Elderly, Schwartz Center for Children, Child and Family Services, the Investment Board for Pilgrim United Church of Christ, and she was one of only two women to serve on the New Bedford Institute for Savings board of directors. Marjorie and her Husband also played in the Tri-County Symphonic band.  Recognizing a Lifetime of contributions to New Bedford, she was chosen as the Standard Times 2007 New Bedford Woman of the Year.

Marjorie has always reached for higher goals, relying on her inner strength. Her mantra has been to give everyone a chance, particularly women.  She has pushed women to stand up for themselves, and to decide if they can work or not, instead of allowing others to decide for them.  With her constant positive thinking and open door policy, Marjorie Jenney has always thought of others in doing good for other people.


Judith Russ Leon

~June 22, 1940 – March 2, 2017~

Please click HERE to be directed to Mrs. Leon’s obituary

Judy encountered deeply ingrained religious, racial, gender, and class prejudice in her extended family, schools, and community.  Her childhood in a Detroit, Michigan working class neighborhood had a diverse population of assorted whites, African Americans, and European immigrants.  Each sub-group had deep animosity towards the “other,” and people of color were the perennial scapegoats.

Judy envisions and egalitarian society.  She and her husband Steve are secular humanists and consider their philosophy is best preserved in a free, pluralistic environment where people possess the power and responsibility to shape their own lives independent of a supernatural authority.

She received a BS in Medical Technology from Wayne State University in Detroit.  Judy worked and taught in hospital medical diagnostic and university research laboratories affiliated with the WSU School of Medicine and at other laboratories around the country.  She co-founded a successful organization to improve the pay, benefits, and status of the profession, and served as its first president and lead negotiator.

Judy and Steve moved to Utah in the early 1970s and discovered another set of prejudices towards Mexican descendants, Native Americans, women in the workforce and African Americans.  She joined the local YWCA and championed its campaign to pass Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Utah, lobby for abortion rights, and support Planned Parenthood Programs.

Upon moving to the SouthCoast, Judy joined the YWCA Investment Club as a novice.  Soon she was teaching investment education classes at the YWCA, throughout Massachusetts, and at national conferences.  She founded another YWCA club, The Plum Tree Shakers, and mentored clubs around the state.

Judy is currently a director of InvestEd Incorporated, a national non-profit investment education organization she co-founded in 2007 with a group of experienced friends.  They are dedicated to creating and nurturing an informed community of investors capable of making its own investment decisions to help build better financial futures.  InvestEd Inc. teaches free online classes, publishes a free monthly newsletter, and produces a yearly conference for beginning, intermediate, and advanced investors.


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