Jane-Kerin Moffat, 90
February 28, 1931 - December 10, 2021
—A passionate champion of the environment—
Jane-Kerin Moffat, 90, of Skillman, a noted environmentalist, died on December 10.
A resident of Greenwich, CT, for almost 60 years, she had moved to Stonebridge at Montgomery in 2019 to be near her sister. Daughter of the late Abbot Low Moffat, former Princeton Township Committeeman, and Marion Adams Moffat, Jane-Kerin spent much of her early childhood on the family farm in Fitzwilliam, NH, fostering a love of nature which shaped her life’s work.
After graduating from Chatham Hall, in Virginia, she moved to London and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Somerville College, Oxford University in 1952, followed by a master’s degree in education.
Returning to the States, she taught at the Potomac School in VA for seven years, then moved to Greenwich, where she taught at Greenwich Country Day School for another six years. Throughout her studies and teaching career, she had been interested in the role of television in society and she left teaching to obtain her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University, completing her dissertation, “Toward a Theory of Education for Television: A Phenomenological Perspective” in 1978.
After completing her doctorate, she found she was considered overqualified for teaching in secondary school, so she set out on new pursuits. Upon taking a walk at Greenwich Point in the early 1980s, she noted piles of rotting leaves that had been left by the town to decompose on the beach. Offended by the smell, she joined the Greenwich Point Committee and helped draft a comprehensive park and beach management plan, which was adopted by the town in 1990.
She then turned her efforts to saving the Jay property in Rye, New York, from development into condominiums. A 23-acre parcel that stretched from the Boston Post Road to the Long Island Sound, and bordered the environmentally sensitive Marshlands Conservancy, it also happened to be the place where her forebear, founding father John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, had spent his childhood.
Helping to organize an alliance of over 65 environmental, historical, government, and nonprofit groups, her efforts led to the property being purchased by Westchester County in 1992 and added to the Marshlands Conservancy. A nonprofit entity, the Jay Heritage Center, was chartered by the New York Board of Regents to manage the property for public purposes, and the site was ultimately designated as part of the Boston Post Road Historic District with the Jay Mansion, its acknowledged centerpiece, designated a National Historic Landmark.
Known by now as an organizer and coalition builder, Jane-Kerin was hired in 1990 by the National Audubon Society to be the coordinator of the Long Island Sound Watershed Alliance, which pulled together over 180 groups interested in preserving the Sound.
Through Audubon, she organized hearings in towns along the coast to determine the extent and nature of the degradation of the Sound due to population growth and pollution, and co-authored a report on the information collected to become the foundation of the Alliance. She coordinated a Citizens Summit Conference, drawing over 200 environmentalists to discuss proposals to rejuvenate the Sound with legislators from NY and CT, in the hope of creating a model for national estuary restorations.
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She also coordinated a meeting at Greenwich Point with the United Nation Summit Conference in Brazil. As part of her Watershed Alliance work, she also founded the Greenwich Network for Long Island Sound, a network of 23 organizations, to promote education and coordinated environmental action. She also served as vice president and conservation chairwoman of the Greenwich Audubon Society.
For her leadership in these efforts, she was awarded the Greenwich Garden Club Conservation Award in 1992. The town of Greenwich also gave her its Conservation Award for her contributions to the environmental movement in 1994, and a Shadblow tree was planted at Greenwich Point in her honor.
Her work did not end there, however. In 1997 she became president of the Audubon Council of CT and in 1998 she set up an email network, linking the leaders of all of the environmental groups in the state, later doing the same for the state’s Audubon members. The National Audubon Society gave her its Audubon Activist Award and published a feature article about her in their magazine entitled “One Sound Lady” in 2000. She went on to serve on its board from 2007-2013.
In addition to her environmental activism, Jane-Kerin was known for her kindness, charm, wit, and magnificent storytelling skills, which also made her a compelling public speaker. Beloved by her friends and family, including many nieces, nephews, and cousins, she is survived by her brother, Burnham Moffat of Reno, and her sister Nancy Lifland of Skillman.
Jane-Kerin will be interred at the Jay Family Cemetery in Rye, NY, in the spring of 2022. A ceremony of celebration and remembrance will be held at that time.
Donations in her memory may be made to the National Audubon Society at 225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, https://act.audubon.org.
Notes and condolences may be addressed to Nancy Lifland at 900 Hollinshead Spring Road, F-202, Skillman, NJ 08558.