In Memoriam: Adrienne Harber

Full-length Biography

Known as one of the most dynamic community organizers in Boulder County, Adrienne Harber led activists for over 40 years in what became a continuous effort to serve the greater community.  She has been an inspiration to hundreds of people and continues to be one today.  She has served the Boulder County community for over four decades --- culminating in a record of commitment which has had a tremendously positive impact on many individuals and the entire community.

Adrienne arrived in Boulder as a single mother without a job --- with two kids and a dog in tow during the summer of 1969.  Once she got her family settled, she immediately began making a difference by using her background in Early Childhood Education helping Boulder County children in the Headstart program.  Outside of her job at Headstart, she helped numerous families with advice and counsel for many years.

At the City of Boulder’s Housing Office, she worked diligently as a City employee representing the needs and interests of low-income housing residents.  She became their voice and was respected throughout the City Administration for her advocacy of those less fortunate in.  While working at the City, she took the lead on the development of programs which have made an extraordinary difference in our community --- some of them continuing decades after she helped found them.  A sample of these includes Boulder County Dental Aid, the Institute on Law & Aging (in conjunction with the University of Colorado), Mothers Time Out, and the City of Boulder’s Tenants’ Representative Council.

After retiring from the City, she established her own businesses, including Boulder Tour Guides, which promoted visits and tourism in the greater Boulder area, and Native American Art, which promoted the works of unheralded Native American Artists.  She also was the Coordinator for the Friendship City Project and its focus on Jalapa, Nicaragua.  As part of the Project, she helped organize the first national Friendship City Conference, which, of course, she made sure was held in her hometown of Boulder.

Next she developed and designed the Share-A-Ride program for senior citizens in Boulder, Longmont, and throughout the County as part of the Boulder County Transportation Task Force.  Her work involved the entire County, the Regional Transportation District, and many Boulder County communities who had unmet senior transportation needs (especially in rural and mountain areas).

At Front Range Community College, Adrienne worked on staff as an Academic Advisor to hundreds of students and began a liaison effort for faculty members, students, and staff members to provide them with a range of needed academic materials.  For several years, she assisted myriad people and guided them in their studies, work, and life plans.  She was revered at Front Range by everyone there and was given a special commendation for her work.

During much of the same time, Adrienne worked s second job as the Program Developer and Coordinator at the Community Parenting Center.  She created numerous programs and workshops for families and had a special emphasis on the youngest members of the community.  Involved with outreach efforts, advocacy, volunteer coordination, and public relations as well as serving temporarily as the Director, she covered the gamut of responsibilities for the Center.

Without any fanfare or public announcement, in 1999 she used a significant portion of her own resources to establish The Friendship Foundation --- a tax-exempt, non-profit organization.  The Foundation has supported peace efforts in the Middle East by helping a wide variety of individuals and organizations who desperately needed resources to promote dialogue on the critical issues facing Israelis and Palestinians.  People across the country have lauded her for her efforts to bring people together and have appreciated the positive contributions she made to world peace.  She operated the Foundation single-handedly for a decade and dedicated an inordinate amount of time to its mission.

Most recently, Adrienne was an active, major participant and founder of Health Care For All Colorado, an organization seeking to educate citizens about health care options with the goal of ensuring that every Coloradan has adequate health care coverage and services.  With an emphasis on the need for a Single-Payer Health Care system, she carried the message of reform far and wide throughout the State.

Adrienne also was a founder of and very active in the Middle East Study Group, a committee begun in 2006 as part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  She was a long-time member of WILPF which, in turn, was originally started in 1915 by Jane Adams.  The Middle East Study Group has sought to bring conflicting sides together in an effort to promote Middle East peace.

Adrienne also was a member of “The Raging Grannies” and sang in the group’s performances.  She was a music lover and consummate pianist.  She was known as an artist for her paper-cutting designs and framed works as well as for her water colors and photography.  She loved the outdoors and had favorite places such as Moab and Estes Park.

Not on any resume was her amazing commitment to personal action.  She participated in a record number of parades, marches, protests, and demonstrations.  She set a high standard by demonstrating the importance of community action --- from helping the needy on a one-on-one basis to marching in solidarity with the likes of the Reverend Martin Luther King and thousands in the Civil Rights era.  She has never hesitated to speak out against injustice.

Adrienne also was always active in her community.  With a strong belief in the need to act locally, she was involved in numerous causes to improve schools, parks, and facilities in her neighborhood and throughout Boulder.  Unbeknownst to many was her passion for photographing Boulder, as highlighted by her exhibit at Café Sole last August.

Adrienne also was a model of charity, but few actually saw how much she did for others.  Many times she offered her home to someone in distress who needed a place to stay or helped with a small financial gift which was enough for that person to “get over the hump” during a crisis.

Adrienne Harber died on December 28, 2009, at the age of 84.  Adrienne is survived by her children, Becca Harber of Ithaca, NY, Leah Vandersluis of Lafayette, Colorado, and Aaron Harber, of Lafayette, Colorado, and two grandchildren: Joel Vandersluis and Holly Harber.  For more information, please contact Aaron Harber at (303) 666-6161 or