We were heartbroken to learn of the passing of our co-founder, Jan Allen over the weekend. Twenty-two years ago Jan founded Lillian’s List with Laura Edwards and together they changed the fabric of our state and made North Carolina a better place to be a woman. Jan got her start as one of the first women managers at IBM in Research Triangle Park. After she retired, she funneled her abundant energy into getting North Carolina to pass the ERA. She was heavily involved in NOW before she moved on to co-found Lillian’s List. Through their political efforts Jan and Laura had the opportunity to meet the few progressive women who were serving in the NCGA in the 1990s. The legislators told Jan that there was a need for a organization only focused on electing pro-choice women in North Carolina. So Jan, Laura, and the first group of Board members, started the Lillian’s List PAC and created a path to leadership for women in North Carolina politics. Jan was such a force in Chapel Hill that September 3, 2015 was declared Jan Allen Day.
How can we quantify Jan’s impact? It’s impossible to know which women wouldn’t have served in the NCGA if Jan hadn’t recruited them and provided an infrastructure of support for them to thrive. It’s impossible to know which progressive laws that make our state a better place for women and families wouldn’t have passed. Which ERA activists got their start because of Jan? Who ran for local office because of Jan? What candidates, donors, board members, staff, and friends were inspired by Jan to go on and make their own impact on North Carolina progressive politics? It’s impossible to say just how deeply Jan impacted North Carolina.
In addition to her political work, Jan will be remembered as a witty storyteller with a sharp sense of humor and a big smile. We’re so lucky that Jan gave so much of herself to the women of this state. She was a champion of reproductive rights, a fierce feminist, and a visionary trailblazer. If anyone changed the face of power, Jan did.
Lillian’s List Staff and Board