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Honoring the Women Who Built Tanenbaum

Tanenbaum Founder and President, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, Interreligious Affairs Senior Advisor, Dr. Judith Banki, and Tanenbaum CEO Emerita, Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq.

This Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting the women whose contributions have made Tanenbaum the organization we are today. We start with our three pillars, who laid the foundation that Tanenbaum so proudly sits upon: Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, Judith Banki, and Joyce Dubensky.  

Continuing the legacy of her late husband, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett founded Tanenbaum in 1992. Dr. Bennett combined her vision for peace among difference with her issue-oriented approach and fierce determination to transform Tanenbaum from a one-woman operation out of her NYC apartment into a global thought leader. Thirty years later, Tanenbaum is known for helping individuals and institutions manage behaviors of respect through solutions-based approaches to interfaith collaborations within and across religious, spiritual and faith traditions. Georgette continuously shows us what can be created when you merge passion with a relentless resolve.  

Alongside Georgette, is a woman who continues to lead Tanenbaum’s very first program focused on Interreligious Affairs well into her 90s, Judith Banki. Judy’s groundbreaking work in Catholic- Jewish relations, pushed through the male dominated spaces of interreligious affairs at a time when women weren’t even considered part of the conversation. An early proponent of women’s interreligious dialogue, she was a founding member of the Women of Faith Task Force, and the only woman to give a paper at the 1993 Vatican-Jewish conference in Baltimore. Judy teaches us that when people don’t make room for you, make it yourself. 

Joining these two forces is Tanenbaum CEO Emerita, Joyce Dubensky, Esq. A powerhouse herself, Joyce spearheaded the development of what are now our four core programs and has seen many firsts during her 18 dedicated years leading our organization. Joyce oversaw the first toolkit for workplace managers on addressing religious diversity at work, the first comprehensive manual on the intersections of religion and health care, and the first two books sharing the stories of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action. Today, there are few Tanenbaum resources that don’t trace back to her guidance and direction. Joyce reminds us that our perspectives are powerful and when you use your voice, you can educate hearts and minds to change the world. 

You cannot accurately understand Tanenbaum’s accomplishments without acknowledging the women who led them, along with all of the female identifying staff and board who have provided their remarkable talents these past 30 years. And I could not be CEO of Tanenbaum today were it not for the dedication, kindness, and support of these three women. This month and beyond, we ask that you spend a little more time truly recognizing the contributions of the women around you and give them the credit they richly deserve.   

With humility,

Rev. Mark Fowler, CEO, Tanenbaum