Marlene Hammerman, St. Louis Section


“I advocate for changes in public policy that will impact everyone, but that’s often a slow process, so I do what I can to make a difference one life at a time.  I strive for a time when all people have the support they need to live with dignity and fulfill their potential.”–Marlene Hammerman

Marlene Hammerman epitomizes what it means to be a volunteer leader and advocate for social justice.  She is a charismatic and visionary leader who has changed and enhanced the lives of many people in St. Louis, and nationally, over her 35 years of volunteer service.

A dynamic leader with boundless energy, Marlene’s commitment to social justice work is endless.   She has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of women’s empowerment and civil rights for many years, including her tremendous impact as a dedicated volunteer with NCJW. She is Immediate Past President of the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, served as NCJW’s Vice President of Advocacy and Education (1986-88), and State Policy Advocacy Chair (two terms 1991-96 and 2004-2009). Marlene also served a three-year term on the National NCJW Board of Directors (2008-11) where she chaired a task force creating a new national campaign, Higher Ground.

Marlene is an active example of what it means to fight for social justice and the rights of the underserved.  She has lobbied in Jefferson City, Missouri and Washington, DC innumerable times, and recently testified at a House committee hearing in favor of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act.  Marlene is about more than just individual action, but about systems change.  She also realizes, though, that both are necessary in the fight for social justice and equality.

“Marlene is NCJW.  She lives it and breathes it every day:  bringing together the issues of social justice with creative funding for programs and projects through spearheading several major fundraisers at NCJW-St. Louis Section. We are grateful to have Marlene as a member of our section, and we are appreciative of her priceless time, talent, and treasure, all three of which she has given to NCJW in abundance.”—Ellen Alper, Executive Director, St. Louis Section

Most recently, Marlene helped plan the NCJW-St. Louis Trafficking Conference, where more than 125 attendees learned about the issue of human and sex trafficking and what they could do to combat it.  Marlene led a workshop that explained what current laws are in Missouri and what legislation is still needed.  Her dream is for NCJW to open a shelter for trafficking victims that includes services for women, men, and the LGBTQ community.  Leaving no one out, she hopes for a holistic approach to care for trafficking survivors including medical care, mental healthcare, counseling, and more.

She was also the driving force behind NCJW-St. Louis section’s latest community service initiative, Project Renewal, which empowers underserved women by providing clothing, education, and resources to succeed at work and home. In its second year, Project Renewal attracts volunteers, including Marlene, to work one-on-one with women to teach them interviewing, financial literacy and communication skills, and allows them to select interview and work clothing from the NCJW Resale Shop.  Another new NCJW-St. Louis initiative, Healing Hearts Bank, a microlending program for victims of domestic violence and underserved women, grew directly from her work both locally and nationally on NCJW’s Higher Ground campaign.

National and regional leadership

Through her position on the NCJW National Trafficking Advisory Board, Marlene helped design the NCJW anti-trafficking campaign, Exodus, mobilizing NCJW sections nationwide through resources like Action Kits, a Program Bank, and a Social Media Guide. Thanks to her work, thousands of NCJW members have access to the tools they need to be powerful advocates in their own communities to fight human and sex trafficking.

Involved in other organizations throughout the region, her commitment to social justice work knows no bounds.  She is a champion of NCJW, bringing new coalition partners to the table through her work in the community, and expanding NCJW’s profile in the community through her involvement.  She advances the mission of the organization by acting on progressive ideals.  She helps to ensure individual rights and freedoms, which in Missouri, often means speaking out against that which limits those rights.  She has never stopped.  She has never given up.  Bad bill after bad bill, she knows our cause for our community is worth it; locally, nationally, and internationally, Marlene will continue to be the mission as well as further it.  She understands that fighting off bad legislation is just as important as promoting good legislation and that it takes work on both sides of the aisle for that to happen.

Thank and honor Marlene Hammerman with an ad in the Washington Institute 2016 Recognition Book. For more information click here.