Nicki Newman Tanner

b. September 2, 1936

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Nicki Newman Tanner until we are able to commission a full entry.

Nicki Newman Tanner, at the tenth anniversary celebration of the Jewish Women’s Archive.

As part of her lifelong devotion to Wellesley College, Nicki Newman Tanner chaired a record-breaking capital campaign for the college in 1993, raising $168 million from alumnae and disproving the assumption that women give less than men. Tanner graduated from Wellesley with a BA in English in 1957 and studied at UCLA before earning a master’s in Oral History from Columbia University in 1980. In 1981 she became founding director of the UJA–Federation of Jewish Philanthropies Oral History Project, which she ran for more than 20 years. In the early 1980s she also did interviews for oral histories both for Columbia’s Oral History Archive and as freelance projects, preserving the stories of Lives of a Cell author Lewis Thomas and Commissioner of Parks Gordon Davis, as well as the histories of the Salvation Army and Pace University. A founding board member of the Jewish Women’s Archive, she served as board chair from 2004 to 2007. As of 2024, she is on the board of WNYC (New York Public Radio), She chaired the educational programs committee of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and was a trustee of Auburn Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. In 2000 she established the annual Tanner Conference at Wellesley to celebrate student participation in the larger world. She won the Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award in 2018 from American Jewish Historical Society. JWA’s Oral History Collection is named in her honor.  

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Nicki Newman Tanner." (Viewed on May 23, 2024) <>.