Marjorie Fine recalls trick-or-treating for UNICEF as her first conscious activism. “I realized there were children in trouble someplace, and if we collected money, something good could happen from it.” Social justice values were strong in her family, along with a Judaism steeped in the Talmud’s instruction that ‘One is not expected to finish the task; neither is one permited to put it down.’ “We were called to pay attention, to give back,” Margie says.
As a high school activist, Margie organized a shut down of her school to protest the Vietnam War. In college, when abortion was illegal in most of the U.S. but newly legal in New York State, she started a pregnancy counseling center to make sure women had the information they needed. After college, she was the first director of the Reproductive Rights National Network, and was active in the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA), an early North Star Fund grantee. She was also a volunteer hotline counselor for New York Women Against Rape, a past North Star Fund Frederick Douglass Award recipient.
Margie joined North Star’s Community Funding Board in the mid 1980s, bringing her commitment to connecting feminism with economic justice and class issues. “I learned so much, being among smart and passionate people really engaged in social justice. It turned on a light: I could do this for my livelihood.” Margie became North Star’s first development director in 1987, then served as its executive director from 1988 to 1993, leading and shaping North Star’s activist-led grantmaking and progressive donor programming. “I’m really proud to have been part of developing North Star workshops to help people of wealth move into the right relationship with their money, use it for living well and also living out their values.”
As executive director at the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program from 1993 to 2005, Margie directed the funding of social justice organizing groups nationally. Margie then began working with the Center for Community Change, looking at fundraising as a way for grassroots organizations to maximize community and individual resources, commitment and involvement. This has been the focus of her writing and workshops over the past six years. Now director of The Linchpin Campaign, Margie works to expand resources available to community organizing. She believes fundraisers are the unsung heroes of social change.
Central to Margie’s activism and life is her Judaism and her affiliation with Kolot Chayeinu, a Brooklyn independent synagogue rooted in social justice. Equally fundamental are her experiences and friendships in Morocco, gained through regular visits starting in 1997. “My time with friends there, who have become family, has colored what Islam means to me, in the way people practice it, and in their own reaching out to social justice.”
“My work finds me standing in the midst of people all over the world doing activism and social justice, in the spot where money and organizing and love get together and move things forward.”