Frances Eizenstat, who worked on family and children’s issues, dies at 68

Frances Eizenstat, who worked on initiatives to strengthen low-income families and improve the lives of children and who had leadership roles with several Jewish foundations and charitable groups, died Feb. 17 of complications from a stroke at a hospital in Miami. She was 68 and lived in Chevy Chase.

Her husband, Stuart Eizenstat, a former chief domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter and a former deputy secretary of the Treasury, confirmed the death.

(Family photo/FAMILY PHOTO) - Frances Eizenstat, who worked on projects to support children and low-income families, died Feb. 17 of complications from a stroke at a hospital in Miami. She was 68 and lived in Chevy Chase.

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After moving to Washington in 1977, when her husband joined the White House staff, Mrs. Eizenstat worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. From 1979 to 1981, she had a leadership role with the White House Conference on Families, which examined the changing nature of families in America and sought to improve services for the poor.

From 1982 to 1990, she worked in the low-income housing section of Fannie Mae.

For the past 12 years, Mrs. Eizenstat traveled the world as a member of the international board of directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which provides aid to Jewish people in distress.

She was also on the board of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, an organization devoted to preserving the memory of a group of Jewish captives at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. The prisoners overcame hunger and brutality to perform Verdi’s “Requiem” while in captivity.

Frances Carol Taylor was born Sept. 14, 1944, in Everett, Mass., and was a 1965 graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. She received a master’s degree in social work from Boston College in 1967 and a master’s of business administration from George Washington University in 1985.

Mrs. Eizenstat began her career in Atlanta in the 1960s, when she worked on the Model Cities program, a federally sponsored effort to improve services and the quality of life in urban America.

In 1972, she was a senior organizer in the congressional campaign of Andrew J. Young. She supervised hundreds of volunteers during the campaign, which resulted in the election of Young as the first African American member of Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction.

In the 1970s, while volunteering with the National Council of Jewish Women, Mrs. Eizenstat developed one of the country’s first screening programs for Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic disorder that affects primarily children of Jewish origin.

She also served on the board of Ohr Kodesh Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Chevy Chase.

Survivors include her husband of 45 years, Stuart E. Eizenstat of Chevy Chase; two sons, Jay Eizenstat of Silver Spring and Brian Eizenstat of New York City; two sisters; and seven grandchildren.

— Staff reports