More Memories from Merrily Laytner

by Merrily Laytner, friend

There was no artifice. There were No Games. What you saw is what you got. She showed up. She was present. She came through. When she walked in, you knew everything was going to be alright. She was a lady. She was elegant. She was beautiful. She was brilliant. She was ferocious. She was tender. She drank a good, dry martini with extra olives. She was my touchstone. I am one of Shirley's girls.

I assume every woman here today is one of Shirley's girls. For, if not for her, would our professional journeys have been as easy or possible? I know mine wouldn't have been. Her accomplishments are legion. She worked two jobs in order to go to the UW. She was born a feminist and never had to go through enlightenment to get there.

She helped write legislation ensuring equal pay for equal work. She founded agencies that took care of beaten women, the sick, the elderly, and on. I was fortunate to work with her on the creation of the Women's Endowment Foundation, an organization dedicated to ensuring that Jewish women who were being abused were acknowledged, cared for and that their needs came to the top of the priority list of Jewish Communal Service agencies. The work of the endowment came to fruition with the funding of many local, national and international organizations dedicated to caring for abused women and children and finally in the creation of the wonderful Project D'vorah at the Jewish Family Service. This program exposed the profound need of this unspoken and tragic problem in our community and has and continues to serve hundreds of women.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "More Memories from Merrily Laytner." (Viewed on April 19, 2024) <>.