Ivy Young Willis Award winner changing face of Philadelphia

By Megan Bernatavitz
March 16, 2010

Poor neighborhoods in Philadelphia, like many cities, during the mid-20th century became defaced by graffiti. One woman, however, transformed the face of Philadelphia and started the now-world-famous mural arts program.

Jane Golden, the recipient of the Cabrini College’s Ivy Young Willis award, developed the community program that works with residents to imagine and express their dreams and ideals on public walls throughout Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, March 9, Dr. Marie A. George, college president, presented the award to Golden. Golden accepted this award in front of faculty, students and others in the Cabrini community.

In 1985, she came to Philadelphia at the request of former Mayor Wilson Goode. Goode hired her to help with the graffiti problem that was overtaking the city.  Golden worked with the Philadelphia anti-graffiti network for over 11 years. During those years she not only helped with the graffiti problem in Philadelphia, but also developed a community organization that is known worldwide for the exceptional outdoor murals that make Philadelphia recognized for its public artwork.

In 1992, Cabrini College began giving recipients the Ivy Young Willis Award. William G. Willis created this award and lecture program in the memory of his late wife. The Ivy Young Willis award is given yearly to a woman who has made a difference in the world of public affairs.

“I really admire Jane Golden for trying to help Philadelphia with all of the graffiti, but at the same time she noticed that each individual piece of graffiti represented artwork. Not many people can do that,” Caitlin Santora, senior communication major, said.

Golden has received many honors throughout her years for her work in helping the Philadelphia community. She has been received the Philadelphia Award, The Girl Scout of America Take the Lead Award, along with many others. She has been recognized not only by Cabrini College, but also LaSalle University, Bryn Mawr and Moore College as well.

Golden has degrees in fine arts and political science from Stanford University. She started her career as director of the Los Angeles Public Art Foundation.

Perhaps Golden’s most prestigious honor was being chosen for the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship. According to the Eisenhower Fellowship Web site, about 12 individuals who show skills in leadership and “want to broaden their professional capabilities and deepen their perspectives and unite in a diverse, global community” are chosen for this fellowship.

“I am really glad that she was given this award by Cabrini. After learning about all of her accomplishments, especially how she was given the Eisenhower Fellowship, I see what an impact she has made,” Aisling Carroll, junior business administration major, said.

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Megan Bernatavitz

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