Dorothy Ginsberg Lemelson
As chairman of the Lemelson Foundation, which she founded with her husband, Jerry,
one of the world's most prolific inventors, Dorothy Ginsberg
Lemelson is today fostering the couple's dream of encouraging
and supporting the next generation of inventors, innovators
and entrepreneurs. In forming new avenues of opportunity for
tomorrow's creators, this family foundation focuses on understanding,
documenting, and promoting invention and innovation as significant
contributors to the strength and sustainability of social
and economic life. In the United States, the Lemelson Foundation
has forged alliances with institutions such as the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and the Smithsonian National Museum
of American History. With the launch of its International
Program in 2002, the Lemelson Foundation is unleashing invention
and innovation to meet human needs and support sustainable
development through initiatives in developing countries.
|Dorothy Ginsberg Lemelson
In addition to her work with the Lemelson Foundation,
Dorothy also leads and funds the Lemelson Education and
Assistance Program (LEAP), which works to improve children's
lives primarily through the support of public education.
A steadfast believer that the positive, life-long lessons
today's students need are the products of inspired teachers
and mentors, Dorothy has awarded LEAP grants for 75 elementary
school teachers to earn master's degrees in literacy education
through the University of Nevada, Reno. LEAP's outreach
includes scholarships, grants to individual schools and
special programs designed to provide opportunities for at-risk
students to thrive and learn.
Prior to pursuing her philanthropic interests, Dorothy
was a successful interior designer and owner of Dorothy
Ginsberg Associates in New Jersey. The mother of two sons,
Eric and Rob, she supported her family financially while
her husband worked as an independent inventor from their
home. Automated manufacturing systems, bar code readers,
automatic teller machines, fax machines and personal computers,
as well as the toys such as the flexible racetrack and the
crying baby doll were derived from Jerry's inventions. Jerry
Lemelson ranks among the most prolific U.S. patent holders
with more than 600 registered patents.
Born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1926, Dorothy Ginsberg
is the eldest of three sisters. Her father, Louis, was a
self-employed glazier, who specialized in store-front construction.
Her mother Lena, born in Latvia, served as a bookkeeper
for the family business before opening an antique store
in 1939, which up until early 2003 was run by Dorothy's
sister. Until her death at the age of 104, Lena continued
to instill in her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren,
the pride in being an American citizen, as well as the responsibility
of embracing and acting upon that citizenship.
Following her parents' examples of hard work and self-sufficiency,
Dorothy channeled her early efforts into earning the money
to further her education. After working several small jobs,
she enrolled in one of the country's most respected design
schools, Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. Upon graduation
in 1947, she taught briefly at the Newark School of Fine
and Industrial Arts, while establishing herself professionally.
Dorothy began dating Jerry in 1953 when they were reintroduced 15 years after their first meeting as children on the Staten Island Ferry. At the age of 12, Dorothy recalls thinking, "I'm going to marry him." And marry him she did, in 1954. Four years later, Jerry quit his job as an engineer to dedicate 100 percent of his professional time and attention on invention. Their son Eric was born in 1959; Rob was born two years later.
In 1990, Dorothy and Jerry moved to Nevada, seven years prior to Jerry's death from cancer. Today, Dorothy spends her free time with her family that now includes three grandchildren.
The recipient of many awards of recognition for her philanthropic
efforts, Dorothy was presented with the Order of James Smithson,
the Smithsonian Institution's highest honor for individuals
who make transcendent contributions to the Institution,
on May 5, 2002. She is only the eighth recipient to receive
the award since its inception in 1984.
In her home state of Nevada, she was recognized at the
2001 commencement exercises and awarded the University of
Nevada's President's Medal for her contributions to higher
education. Additionally, she was named the 2001 Friend of
Education by the Reno-Gazette Journal for programs
she initiated to benefit the local school districts. Dorothy
was inducted into the Nevada Women's Fund Hall of Fame for
her exemplary contributions, which continue to benefit the
lives of Nevada's women and children. In 2003, she received
an honorary fine arts degree from Pacific Northwest College
of Art in Portland, Oregon.