On November 17, 2021, we celebrate the 140th birthday of our founder, Mary Harriman. It’s a monumental birthday in its own right, but even more amazing when it takes place during the Centennial Anniversary of the Association.

We can look back and see the trajectory from Mary’s insightful, compassionate belief at the turn of the century—that, “…women…had the opportunity and the responsibility of making an important contribution to the New York City community…[to] do what we could do to improve conditions…”— to the powerhouse organization we are today, an international collective of passionate civic leaders seeking connection with their communities in the pursuit of long-term system impact.

Mary and other early leaders laid a foundation for an organization that was set in motion a century ago and is needed now more than ever. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work for an organization to stay focused on its ideals, values, and core Mission and to ride out the inevitable ups and downs.

Together, we’ve accomplished so much since Mary gathered that original group of friends together to raise funds for the Settlement House on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.

It has been a century of bringing together women who share a passion for community.

Believing in a greater good beyond ourselves as individuals.

Partnering with our communities to identify and address the most pressing issues.

What would Mary Harriman think if she were here today to see the outcome of her ideas come to fruition? As we move forward to be a more diverse and inclusive organization and to be effective and authentic partners in our communities, we can only imagine the pride and amazement she would feel with the knowledge of the incredible number of women and communities who have benefited from her vision.