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MARGERY TABANKIN Printer Friendly Page
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  • Former board member of the Arca Foundation
  • Executive director of Barbra Streisand Foundation
  • Executive director of Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Chairwoman of Proteus Fund
  • Board member of Defenders of Wildlife



Born in 1948 in Newark, New Jersey, Margery Tabankin was inspired to become part of the New Left as a result of a speech she heard Tom Hayden, then-president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), deliver in her hometown in 1963. “He had an absolutely profound effect on me,” recalls Tabankin.

From 1965-69 Tabankin attended the University of Wisconsin, where she became an anti-war activist and civil-rights demonstrator while pursuing a degree in political science. She also joined SDS. Recalling that “part of being a woman [in the Sixties] was this psychology of proving I was such a good radical, 'better than the men,'” Tabankin says: “Most guys didn't take women seriously, however. They [women] were things to f**k.... You went through this intense experience [at demonstrations], and you went back and had sex. [But] It was much more on men's terms.”

After completing her formal education, Tabankin studied community organizing at Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago. She then went to Washington, DC to work on the Youth Citizenship Fund's campaign to pass a Constitutional Amendment lowering the legal voting age from 21 to 18.

In 1971 Tabankin joined the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), dedicated to the legalization of that drug. That same year, she was elected as the first female president of the National Student Association, a group that was vocal in its opposition to America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Upon her election, Tabankin said she felt a "deep commitment to the eradication of white racism and a sincere desire to work with minority students in the common struggle to change priorities."

In 1972 Tabankin, who believed that the Vietcong “were fighting a liberation struggle,” was one of 300 Americans whom the North Vietnamese government invited to take part in a friendly meeting.

Also in '72, Tabankin became executive director of the Washington, DC-based Youth Project, a Center for Community Change initiative that funded efforts by young people to administer community self-help programs.

In May 1977, at the request of Tom Hayden, Tabankin took a job as director of Americorps VISTA. According to the Heritage Foundation, Tabankin, during her four-year tenure in that post, sought to develop a “nationwide network of radical organizations” that would “work towards more equitable distribution of income and opportunities.” She helped VISTA institute a federally funded grant-making program that quickly developed a reputation as a significant source of cash for leftist activists and organizations nationwide. Among the more noteworthy beneficiaries of these funds were ACORN and the Midwest Academy.

From 1981-88, Tabankin served as executive director of the Arca Foundation's board. From 1988-94, she was executive director of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee (HWPC), an organization of entertainers that raised millions of dollars to support leftwing candidates and causes.[1]  At one point during her time with HWPC, Tabankin took a sabbatical to serve as a Fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

In 1989 Tabankin traveled to the West Bank and met with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, in a trip supported by the Arca Foundation. Acknowledging that “[t]his one was a huge dilemma for me as a Jew,” Tabankin justified the visit by reasoning “that the survival of Israel meant hearing out a peaceful solution to the situation as opposed to taking a rigid view of 'don't negotiate, don't be flexible.'”

On another occasion, Tabankin also met with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Tabankin, who claims to have formed “a close friendship” with entertainer Barbra Streisand, has been executive director of the Barbra Streisand Foundation since 1988. She has also served as a board of directors member for Defenders of Wildlife, an advisory board member of the Liberty Hill Foundation, a board of directors member of People for the American Way, chairwoman of the Proteus Fund, and executive director of Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation. Moreover, she is president of Tabankin and Associates, a consulting firm “servicing several private, progressive family foundations and individuals with their philanthropic and political giving.”

In 2013 Tabankin received a Campaign for America’s Future Lifetime Achievement Award.

Since 1990, Tabankin has made numerous monetary contributions to Democrat and leftist political candidates, including such notables as Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Rahm Emanuel, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, Jim McGovern, Walter Mondale, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Tom Udall. She also has given money to the Progressive Majority and a number of other political activist organizations.[2]

For additional information on Margery Tabankin, click here.


NOTES:

[1] HWPC was particularly important in helping Barbara Boxer and Bill Clinton. Indeed the Committee raised more than $4 million for Clinton’s presidential re-election campaign in 1996.

[2] Donor information courtesy of Open Secrets.org.

 

 

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