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In Memory of Janet Axelrod

January 2022


Our board member and long-time activist and philanthropic organizer Janet Axelrod died Sunday, 12/26, at her home in Cambridge, after a fierce 3-round battle with cancer.

Even after living in Cambridge for more than 40 years, Janet still exuded her Bronx-ness in directness, humor and energy. She brought all of that to her work for social justice, of which Grassroots International is one chapter in a long and storied history. Her engagement spanned from co-founding South Africa Partners, participating in the production of “Eyes on the Prize,” fundraising to build a state-of-the-art library in Cambridge, drumming with Sheboom (and taking Brazilian drumming lessons), serving as the first staff member of Haymarket People’s Fund, and participating in Grassroots International’s first donor engagement group on Palestine several years ago.

We knew Janet would be a perfect fit to join the board in 2016 when, during a meeting, she succinctly described in one sentence the work of Grassroots International with powerful clarity and some humor as “a one-stop shop for funding anti-imperialist work.”

Even as her cancer returned this last year, Janet stayed engaged. She showed up, prepared, for the Personnel Committee meetings redrafting our personnel policies, and participated in Board meetings the day after receiving chemo. She did it because she wanted to do it, and there was no stopping Janet! Somehow it also feels meaningful that Janet died the same day as Desmond Tutu, a giant of the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, a struggle so central in Janet’s own work.

After a lifetime dedicated to creating a better world, including with us at Grassroots International, we have no doubt that the path Janet has prepared will continue forward.

Janet Axelrod, presente!

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