conversion happened during the 1952 presidential campaign
when she started out for Eisenhower over Taft and
then fell for Adlai
Stevenson, the Democratic candidate. This led
to many 'spirited' debates
with her father. She was
never politically the same again.
primary campaigns, over the last 25 years, most Democratic
Presidential candidates have made it a special point to seek
her advice, often stopping at her home.
became politically active, after moving
to Hanover NH in 1957,
in the League of Women Voters and local government. Hennessey
worked to clean up the water pollution in the Connecticut
River, and helped create a "Greenbelt" around
the town of Hanover. NH
Governor King appointed her to several statewide
bodies and she was invited to Lady
White House Conference on Natural Beauty in 1965.
"She became consciously connected
with environmental issues," said husband John Hennessey,
the former dean of Tuck School.
Hennessey in-formed herself about environmental laws and regulations
and, in the process, developed a deep appreciation of the good
that government can do for people, her husband said. The scope
of her interests widened to include women's and children's issues.
1968 to 1977,
she helped to build the New
Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Affiliated Trusts [NHCF]
and served as its first executive director. New
Hampshire Charitable Foundation incorporated with funds
from the Spaulding-Potter Trusts. During Hennessey's tenure
it grew to
$5.3 million in assets with grants of $770,000 in 1977. The
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is now one of the country's
largest community foundations, with assets in excess of
$289 million, NHCF awarded over
$17 million in grants, program initiatives and scholarship
funds in 2003.
accepted the Presidency of Women & Foundations
/ Corporate Philanthropy in 1977. In
that same period, she was a board member and chair of
on legislation and regulation of the Council
She wanted to challenge New Hampshire's dominant political
ethos that emphasizes a small role for government, a
position that she felt "left people behind," said
John Hennessey. Being
a practical woman with natural instincts for working with people, she
set out to help strengthen the NH's Democratic
Party, friends say. She became a leader in the NH
Democratic Party (and
was a national Democratic Committeewoman).
common refrain among Democratic activists was, "We'll
have to call Jean Hennessey. She'll know what to do," Hancock
never held a statewide elected office herself, preferring
to work "behind
her list of 10,000 potential activists and donors
to organize support and and raise funds to make
the world a better place. "She
had a great sense of what needs to be done and
the practical, financial means by which it can
be accomplished,'' said friend and former State
Planner Mary Louise Hancock of Concord.
One of her proudest political victories
was the election of Hugh
Gallen as NH governor in 1978. She had helped run the
Democrat's campaign, and later served as his budget director.
recognition of her environmental accomplishments President
Carter appointed her as the first woman on the International
Joint Commission - an independent bi-national organization
between the US and Canada as an environmental rule maker and
boundary steward, in 1979. She joined the Environmental Studies
faculty of Dartmouth College in 1981, and later became Director
of Dartmouth's Institute on Canada and the US.
1996 she worked to support NH State Senator Jean
Shaheen's successful campaign for Governor,
and again in 1998 worked for Shaheen (successfully).
In the 2002 election campaign she was active,
especially for Jeanne Shaheen's Senate campaign
and seven Democratic candidates for the NH
won). In October 2002,
she received the Eleanor
Roosevelt Award of the NH Democratic
Party, at the Jefferson/Jackson dinner.
was appointed in 1994 to the Commission
for International Environmental Cooperation (NAFTA)
as the American Executive Director, in Montreal.
Clinton appointed her to the Board of Trustees
of the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars in
1994 and again in Oct. 1996.
her many efforts, for
twenty years she was a trustee and chair of the finance
committee of the Population
Research Center in Princeton. She
was chair of the NH
Chapter of Nature Conservancy, author
of the NH power plant
siting act. She
also served on the boards of the NH Civil Liberties Foundation,
Environmental Law Institute,
the Association for Canadian
Studies in the United States,
for Northern Studies, the NH
Commission on the Status of Women, the Planned
Parenthood Federation of America,
the Montessori School in Hanover, as well as the NH
Rhodes Scholar Selection Committee, the Advisory Committee
on the Selection
of a Federal District Court Judge, and the
NH Air Pollution