Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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  Betsy Shure Gross
  Environmentalist and Community Preservationist
  Boston WWD Event 2001
  Born in 1940
  Advocates for the preservation of open spaces, historic sites, and affordable housing
 
Biography  up to top

Betsy Shure Gross was born in 1940 and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. Her paternal grandmother, Dora, lived with her family and was an important influence in Shure Gross's life. Her family was not observant but celebrated holidays together over a festive meal. Images of the concentration camps in Europe haunted Shure Gross, who developed a determination to fight prejudice.

Shure Gross attended college in the South, but withdrew to get married. She and her husband returned to New Haven for his medical training. Influenced by the problems of poverty and changing urban neighborhoods that she witnessed as a teacher in the local elementary school, Shure Gross began to advocate for improving parks and open space. She helped restore Edgewood Park, which she had loved as a child. When Shure Gross and her husband relocated to Brookline, she turned her energies to the Emerald Necklace, organizing residents and city government to take responsibility for restoring it. Through her advocacy for the Emerald Necklace, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Shure Gross helped found the National Association for Olmsted Parks, coordinating its national conference in Boston. Through this conference, she brought together environmental activists with historic preservation professionals. Ultimately, their joint efforts resulted in a $32 million restoration program in Massachusetts. Shure Gross entered state government to work on the state's Urban Heritage State Park Project. Since 1999, she has served as the Special Assistant for Community Preservation in the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, working to pass the Community Preservation Act of 2000, which helps communities protect open space, historic sites, and affordable housing.

Shure Gross and her husband raised two activist children and live in Brookline, Massachusetts.

 
What She Said  up to top
ON JEWISH VALUES
I do [see my work as connected to Jewish justice values.]... It seems to me that the activism and the commitment to environmental justice and social justice comes from ...More 
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
We certainly were not observant. We held holidays, but the line was always if someone asked if we were religious, one of my aunts or uncles or somebody would say, 'Yes, we get together for the holidays and eat.' ...More  Audio available
[I knew] maybe too much [about the war while growing up.] One of my father's college roommates was part of the Nuremberg legal staff and sent photographs ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
I think [my grandmother Dora] is the most significant influence. She just had a capacity to survive and a determination to do things her way ...More  Audio available
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
My father said I could do two things: he said I could be a teacher or a nurse. And that box was so small and I was so resentful of the idea ...More 
ON WORK AND FAMILY
It's hard to separate my advocacy from my paid work. I think that I think of myself as someone who works to change situations and so there's never really been a line between ...More 
ON TRADITIONAL ROLES
I think medical school was extremely hard because I only had two years of college and the choice was, whose tuition is going to be paid and obviously it was Gary's tuition ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
When [Gary, husband] was at medical school, I was student-teaching, and the school in which I did my student-teaching was the school at which I had been a grammar school student ...More 
ON IMPACT ON WORLD
So we created a program and had a piece of the Open Space Bond Bill and created a $32 million restoration program ...More 
I think [my biggest impact is] drawing people to something that they might not have done otherwise, whether it's ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
[My work] has probably kept me from a padded cell somewhere. I need to be able to feel that I'm making a difference ...More 
ON CHALLENGES
Sustaining activism [is the greatest challenge]. People always respond with great energy to a threat and to an immediate problem-solving situation ...More 
ON REWARDS
[The most rewarding thing is] seeing all these degraded, ignored, really truly degradated public spaces restored and populated again ...More  Audio available
 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Role Models (Betsy Shure Gross)
Answer - Rewards (Betsy Shure Gross)
Answer - Family Upbringing (Betsy Shure Gross - observant)
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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Betsy Shure Gross." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pbshuregross>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Betsy Shure Gross," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pbshuregross>.