Throughout our nation’s history, women have played an important role in securing and protecting workers’ rights. However, genuine, systemic equality for women in the workplace, in their unions, and in the labor movement is still unrealized.
The Berger-Marks Foundation seeks to radically change the gender balance in the labor movement’s leadership by supporting, promoting, and developing young women in leadership roles at every level. Through grant-making, education and research, and awards, we provide support, opportunities, and recognition to women labor leaders.
The Berger-Marks Foundation was established in 1997 to honor the memory of Edna Berger, the first woman lead organizer for The Newspaper Guild-CWA, and her husband, the legendary Tin Pan Alley song-writer Gerald Marks who bequested his fortune to set up the Foundation.
Formerly a clerical worker at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Click magazine, Berger rose through the ranks of The Newspaper Guild to become the first woman organizer on the international staff. Berger was a feisty, remarkable woman and first-rate union organizer who paved the way for other women in the labor movement.
When Berger died in 1996, Louise Walsh, a reporter who had evolved into a union activist and educator herself, set up a scholarship fund in Berger’s name. Walsh invited four other pioneering women unionists, including current Foundation Trustees Linda Foley, Carolyn Jacobson, and Kitty Peddicord, to serve on the board. They launched the fund with several thousand dollars in donations from individuals and the Guild.
Touched and impressed by the tribute to his wife, Berger’s widower Gerald Mark left three-quarters of his estate to establish the Berger-Marks Foundation when he died in 1997. Royalties from Marks’ prolific Tin Pan Alley catalogue, including his most famous song, “All of Me,” have provided funding for the Foundation ever since. (Hence, the musical note in our logo.) The Foundation sold Marks’ song catalog to Sony and Round Hill Music and is now spending down the proceeds.
Meet Edna Berger