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JRF Remembers Betty Phillips Adams

Betty Adams

Betty Phillips Adams
April 9, 1942-July 5, 2013

The Jackie Robinson Foundation deeply mourns the death of its former president Betty Phillips Adams. Adams died in New York City on July 5th. Betty Adams became JRF's president in 1987 and led the Foundation for a decade. Adams' tenure was pivotal in the development of the Foundation's robust education and leadership program that accompanies the generous scholarship grants given out each year. She also spearheaded the start of the JRF Alumni Association. In her first year, she led the fortieth year commemoration of Jackie Robinson's barrier-breaking entry into major league baseball by engaging the Coca-Cola Company to sponsor the "Jackie Robinson: An American Journey" exhibition, which traveled to seven major cities in three years. Said JRF Founder Rachel Robinson , "Betty was an integral part of the tremendous growth of the Foundation and in carrying forth Jack's legacy. The Foundation and I, personally, are deeply saddened by her untimely death."

We asked a few members of the JRF family to share their thoughts as we remember the life of Betty Phillips Adams.


"When I think of Betty Adams I remember how she was able to be both leader and listener. She helped move the Foundation ahead as an organization and at the same time she was sensitive to what was going on in the lives of individual scholars. Betty cared deeply about JRF and its mission. Whether she was at the helm, or on a committee, or one of the leaders of what we called our "family sessions", Betty gave generously to the Foundation. Her generosity was even more precious when, in spite of physical challenges, she continued to be a part of JRF's life and served with dedication and grace. I am glad to have been able to work with her over the years."
- June Jackson Christmas,M.D. - JRF Board Member (since 1987)


"The tireless work of Betty Phillips Adams during her employment with the JRF is evident today. Betty served as Vice President Administration at the National Urban League, prior to coming to JRF, and I worked under her direct supervision, as Contract Assistant. When she informed me of the position of Program Manager at the JRF, I eagerly accepted the job, and joined in her enthusiasm for the scholarship program. During the years to follow, staff, students, alumni and volunteers increased under her leadership. While facing medical battles of her own, Betty never forgot when we began to make herself available to the needs of staff. I am truly grateful for Betty's friendship, guidance and leadership both at the JRF and in my personal life--reminding all who knew her to accept, with gratitude, inherent freedom, embrace its potential and use it to create a full and satisfying life."
-Emma Roberson, former Director of JRF's Education and Leadership Development Program



"A formidable leader and manager, Betty left the Jackie Robinson Foundation better, stronger and secure after ten years. She didn’t toot her own horn about that –not to me and not to others we speak to about Betty. She just continued to raise the professional standards of the institution she revered. She profoundly appreciated JRF’s vital function in a society that still tolerates inequities and an uneven playing field. She got it. And she put her powerful work ethic into boosting JRF’s effectiveness."
-Della Britton Baeza, President and CEO of Jackie Robinson Foundation


Gifts in memory of Betty's extraordinary life may be given to:
The Jackie Robinson Foundation - Betty Adams Scholarship Fund
75 Varick St., 2nd Floor, New York, New York 10013-1917
or donate online by clicking below

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"When I first met Betty in a crowd with other JRF Scholars, I was amazed that with all of the many students in the bustling room that evening, Betty knew who I was! Not only did she know my name, but she knew that I wanted to be a teacher and, right away, she started speaking with me about opportunities in education. As a college freshman and a brand new scholar with the Foundation, I did not know much about what Betty had accomplished, but I did know how this contact with her made me feel that night. I felt that JRF was another home for me and that those who ran and worked with the Foundation brought with them a personal touch and dedication that was so crucial to my development."
-Elizabeth Gil, JRF Alumnae


"Betty Adams was a compassionate, caring person who was committed to the principles and values of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. As our first woman President and Chief Executive Officer from 1987-1997, she was in her own right a trailblazer. Betty represented the Foundation with dignity and inner strength and advanced the program and impact of JRF thru her consistent leadership. She is missed."
-Norman Siegel, JRF Board Member (since 1979)

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