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Phyllis Passman Kornicker’s interest in politics began when she volunteered for the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and continued throughout her life. Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and raised in New York City, Kornicker was a natural leader who did everything in her power to advance women’s involvement in politics.

After a successful career in accounting with Johnson & Johnson and a marriage of almost 50 years to Maxwell Kornicker, Phyllis Kornicker retired to The Ponds in Monroe, New Jersey, where she was introduced via a guest speaker to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics.

As a result, Kornicker, who believed in the importance of preparing women for political engagement, began attending CAWP and Eagleton events and providing financial support to CAWP programs such as Ready to Run, a bipartisan program for women who want to run for office, seek higher office, work on a campaign, get appointed to office, or learn more about the political system.

“It was a treat to have Phyllis engaged in our programs for so many years,” recalls Kathy Kleeman, Eagleton’s senior communications officer. “She rarely missed the opportunity to connect with students at an event or mingle with candidates at Ready to Run.”

Excited about the work CAWP was doing, Kornicker, who died in 2010, included a $500,000 bequest in her will, providing an immediate and substantial boost for CAWP’s programs.

Kornicker’s vision and generosity will support a variety of CAWP education and outreach programs aimed at channeling more women into politics and public leadership, including the national Ready to Run Development Network and The 2012 Project, a national campaign designed to urge accomplished women to take advantage of the once-in-a-decade opportunities that will exist as a result of redistricting in the 2012 elections. Kornicker’s gift allows a nationally respected Rutgers program to leave an indelible mark on our nation’s future.

Says CAWP director Debbie Walsh, “We are honored that she entrusted us with her dream of spurring more women to seek political leadership.”

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