Marie Hilson Katzenbach (1882-1970)
Jersey gem: Born and raised in Trenton
Marie Hilson Katzenbach worked throughout her career to improve education in New Jersey. She was one of the first two women to be appointed to the State Board of Education, and eventually rose through the ranks to become its first female president. During her tenure on the board, Katzenbach played a crucial role in the formation of the state college system. For instance, Katzenbach helped transform three two-year schools into four-year state colleges. An additional three state colleges were founded as a result of her fruitful reign. Katzenbach was active on the board for 44 years.
In 1947, Katzenbach was elected vice-president of the State Constitutional Convention. She was in large part responsible for altering the language of the New Jersey Constitution to ensure that women were considered “persons” under state law. Katzenbach also dedicated 50 years of service as a board member to the New Jersey School for the Deaf which, in 1965, was renamed in her honor. Her lifelong committee to education was officially recognized in 1960 when Katzenbach was presented with the first annual Higher Education Service Award.