Vivian Stromberg became MADRE’s director in 1990 after a lifetime of political organizing and more than two decades of teaching school in New York City. In fact, it was a harrowing exchange with one of her students that moved Vivian to become the director of MADRE.
“It was the eve of the first Gulf War,” Vivian recalls. “I was leading a discussion with sixth graders about the impending war. This was the South Bronx. Many of the children knew people being deployed to the Gulf as US soldiers. I asked the students if they thought there might be a class of kids in Iraq like themselves having a similar conversation about the coming war with their teacher. One young boy looked at me with disbelief. He raised his hand and said, ‘But Ms. Stromberg, there are no children in Iraq.’ I knew then that I had to be at MADRE full-time. I had to put all of my energy into political work; for the children—in Baghdad, in the Bronx, everywhere.”
Based on an assessment that its Central America partnerships were strong enough to sustain an expansion, MADRE began working in the Middle East. Through her leadership, we began partnerships with grassroots women in Africa. And thanks to her tireless work, MADRE's original partnership with the women of Nicaragua is still going strong, and our partnerships with grassroots women's organizations worldwide continue to flourish.
For over 20 years, Vivian served as MADRE's Executive Director. Today, she remains a vital part of the MADRE family. Her vision continues to guide our work worldwide, and our sisters feel her presence as they fight for their rights.
Messages from Vivian
Tribute to Vivian: Click here to read messages to Vivian of love and gratitude from the MADRE family