In July, the Person-to-Person family sadly lost our founding Executive Director, Jean Davis Sherman. Jean passed away at the age of 91 at her home in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lived with her husband Bill.
Jean is remembered for having “established P2P to address the inherent racism in each of us as well as to provide for the needs of those most impacted by poverty and racism,” by Janet Evans, P2P’s Executive Director from 1987 until 2003.
Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, St. Luke’s Rector Dr. Robert Nelson Back asked Mrs. Sherman to design a local outreach program that would give the parishioners an opportunity to express their concern. As part of the planning to create P2P, Jean and Bill, along with Dr. Back and the Darien Superintendent of Schools visited Black Panther headquarters in Harlem.
“We were welcomed, arranged for Black Panther representatives to come to an evening program at St. Luke’s, well attended by Darien residents, for a showing of “Up the Pig” and another Black Panther film,” said Bill Sherman.
Jean was instrumental in launching a series of “Dialogues” on race, which later formed the basis of collaborations with the YWCA Darien/Norwalk and others to explore and educate the community on topics related to racism.
Nancy Coughlin, P2P Chief Executive Officer, is honored to serve in the position once held by Jean Sherman. “I am inspired by Jean’s bold vision and fearlessness.” said Nancy. “She was a woman of action. By honoring her life, we celebrate the succession of strong, passionate women who have led this organization over the past 50 years.”
A licensed therapist and lifelong educator, Jean lived a life of generosity toward her family, through her work, and by means of a lifetime of volunteerism. Through P2P’s continued commitment to creating equitable access to resources, we hope to honor Jean’s lasting legacy.
Jean’s lifelong passion was finding an end to racial injustice. In her honor, P2P has established the Jean Sherman Scholarship. Funds raised will support the annual MLK Scholarship, which is awarded to students for their deep commitment to community service, and other promising students who embody the ideals of MLK. If you would like to make a contribution, please click here.
Learn more about this year’s MLK Scholarship recipient here.