Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, and our founder Lois Hogle

International Women’s History Month has made me reflect on trailblazing women I have known who stood up and stood out to improve our lives. One of these women is Lois Crozier-Hogle who co-founded Green Foothills. In musing about Lois’ life and her contribution to Green Foothills, my thoughts also turned to women who inspired Lois and to the next generation who are now inspiring me.

Margaret Mead and Eleanor Roosevelt

I first met Lois Crozier-Hogle when I was a teenager. She served on the YWCA board with my mom, Trudy Sherlock, with whom she became fast friends as they fought together for women’s reproductive and civil rights, and the environment. Courageous, driven, and passionate, they were forces with which to be reckoned. 

Inspired by anthropologist Margaret Mead who sat on the review committee for her doctorate in education, Lois firmly ascribed to Mead’s philosophy that a small, committed group can make a difference. 

It was during her time in college that Lois became involved in politics as the state chairman of the California Youth Legislature. Joining a delegation to Washington D.C., she met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at a lunch in the state dining room. She recalled how Mrs. Roosevelt came around to each table asking what they needed and how she could help. Lois, who was not shy about asking for money, did just that. It would be a skill that would serve her well after co-founding Green Foothills. Lois’ relationship with Mrs. Roosevelt didn’t end there. Later, while working with the National Youth Administration, Mrs. Roosevelt invited her to discuss politics over lunch. 

These two strong and independent women left an indelible mark on Lois who briefly went on to work raising war-relief funds on college campuses for student prisoners of war and planning conferences for the YWCA before moving back to California where she would begin her journey as an environmental activist.

Shocked Into Action

Born in the San Joaquin Valley to a family with a Quaker heritage and a strong foundation in spiritual beliefs, her love of the outdoors was spurred by family adventures in the wilderness. After moving to Palo Alto with her new husband George Hogle, a Jungian analyst, what she discovered shocked and jolted her into action. “It had developed so much, and there was every evidence of the kind of development I didn’t want to see. This really was a challenge, and it reminded me of what I visualized this place would always be ⁠— these beautiful hills threatened. And they were. They were in danger.” 

This passion to save the foothills would lead her to help organize the group that would form Committee for Green Foothills – now Green Foothills – with her other impassioned colleagues. A member of the Board of Directors for more than 6 years, Lois ended her service to the organization in 1973. She served alongside a number of other women on Green Foothills working board, no doubt inspiring one another with their persistence in pursuing the protection of our natural landscapes.

The year Lois retired from Green Foothills Board, she opened her home on Page Mill Road for the first retreat of the new board of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District which had been approved by voters in 1972. Lois continued to support Green Foothills after her departure, even writing the opening letter to the organization’s 20-20 Vision booklet published in 1982. This document also recorded Lois’ occasional trips to Sacramento to attend meetings of the Scenic Highways Committee as part of Green Foothills work to have Skyline Blvd in San Mateo County become the second official State Scenic Highway in California which came to fruition in 1968.

Encouraging A New Generation of Women Leaders

Lois looked forward to seeing Green Foothills grow and to bring in a new generation of environmentalists. It was Lois who encouraged me to serve Green Foothills’ Board of Directors., which I first did in 2004 to 2006. I returned to the board in 2017, and have been honored to serve as its President for the past 2 years. Lois as well as my mother inspired me to do more for those in need, fight for what is right, be grateful for what we have and to protect the land and our rights, for future generations.

She once said “I’m often stopped on trails, and people express appreciation for the foothills, and for this environment that is here. . . I remember many times walking the Skyline and planning what we were going to do. In a way, we’ve done it — and I think we’ve done it because we kept our enthusiasm for it.”

What the women (past and present staff, board, and volunteers) of Green Foothills have in common is the ability to believe they can change one corner of the world for the better, commit to it with all their hearts and energy, and not back down. These are huge shoes to fill.

As Lois was inspired by many strong and capable women, today I am inspired not only by her legacy but even more so by the women who now work on Green Foothills’ staff and board. While influenced by women from the past, our charge is to ensure a new generation carries on the good work. As Lois once said echoing Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “That’s one thing I would tell young people, that if they really have commitment and conviction about the thing they are after they can make a big difference.”

All quotes contained in this article are from August 2001 Palo Alto Weekly article, August 2001 “Lois Hogle’s life of ‘gracious activism’

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