“It’s always necessary to tend to justice.”
Listening to Mary Waldron reflect on her life of 80-plus years, it’s easy to see why she established the Justice Fund at the Community Foundation to confront discrimination endured by marginalized people.
Decades ago, Waldron labored to crack the glass ceiling in premier New York City-based investment firms dominated by men. Meanwhile, she served 15 years on a nonprofit board, assisting formerly imprisoned people striving to re-establish their lives. On another board, she advocated for women impacted by the criminal legal system.
“I wanted to do nonprofit volunteer work most people wouldn’t think of doing,” she recalled.
“Justice has followed me all my life as a source of inspiration,” Waldron said. Compassion was instilled in her at an early age by family members, especially her grandfather. Disturbed by the injustices Indigenous people endured, he once refused a military assignment to “corral” Native Americans in Kansas.
In many ways, it was a revelation to Waldron. “I landed on the thought that the color of one’s skin was critical to whether you got justice or not.”
The notion has guided Waldron’s tenacious volunteerism — and her philanthropy — for decades. In fact, the Urban League of Southern Connecticut, which supports African Americans and other minority groups in achieving economic self-reliance, honored Waldron as their 2011 “Woman of the Year” in recognition of her service.
Through her will, Waldron has entrusted the Community Foundation to allocate grants from the Justice Fund now and after her lifetime to local nonprofits fighting discrimination. Women’s rights, immigration advocacy, racial justice, and defending unjustly incarcerated people are just a few of the causes benefiting from her fund thus far.
“It’s always necessary to tend to justice,” Waldron said. “It doesn’t happen automatically. It needs human help.”