Kip Tiernan is a longtime, militant, social activist dating back to the late 50’s. In her relentless crusade to help poor and homeless people she has protested, lobbied, advocated, fundraised, rabble roused and made a general nuisance of herself with a degree of conviction and commitment rarely seen.
Kip is a native of Connecticut who was orphaned as a child and raised by her grandmother. Always unorthodox, by the time she was 16 she was taking flying lessons and playing jazz piano.
She arrived in Boston in her early 20’s and embarked on a career in advertising, writing direct mail programs and TV commercials. She began writing articles for the “Catholic Left” which appeared in The Boston Globe, The Phoenix and Boston After Dark. In the 60’s she discovered St. Philips/Warwick House, a Boston based Catholic civil rights and anti war movement ministry. She eventually joined their “team” because, as she says, “Poor people need public relations, too.” She hasn’t looked back since!
On Easter Sunday in 1974, Kip founded Rosie’s Place, the country’s first drop-in emergency shelter for women. Today, Rosie’s Place has evolved from providing shelter, to offering solutions. In addition to founding Rosie’s Place, Kip was a founder of the Boston Food Bank, the Boston Women’s Fund, and Healthcare for the Homeless. In 1980, Kip and Fran Froehlich co-founded the Poor People’s United Fund and they have been working as a team ever since. In 1981 they co-founded Community Works, from 1988 to 1990 they were fellows at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and from 1993 through 2002 they taught a class in Ethics, Moral Principles and Social Policy at UMASS, Boston.
Kip has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees over the years, and today, at the age of 77, she works tirelessly, continuing to focus her energies on eliminating the root causes of poverty. She continues to work closely with the Board of Directors and staff at Rosie’s Place, and with Fran Froehlich, continues as Co-Director of Poor People’s United Fund. Kip is a founding member of the Ethical Policy Project. In Kip’s words, “We seek justice, not charity and the journey to justice can only be made in the company of others”.