For New London native Elaine Maynard Adams, the call into public service literally came knocking at her door in 1991. She was visited by individuals on the Democratic Town Committee, and they were in need of people to run for New London’s Board of Education.
Maynard Adams, a single mom with a child in the New London Public School system, was working multiple jobs at the time and was also concerned that she didn’t have the background needed for the job. But hearing naysayers with questions like, “Why would you send your kids to New London Schools?” gave her a personal reason to run. As a product of the New London School system with a child attending those schools, she put her apprehension aside and decided join the ballot.
Maynard Adams served on the Board of Ed from 1991 to 1999, stepping down to spend more time with her daughter, who was in high school and would soon be off to college in 2001. That was not the last the New London Board of Ed would hear from her though - she picked up the baton again, serving on the board from from 2007 to 2008. She has also just recently announced her candidacy for this years Board of Ed elections.
Noting that in a town with demographics like New London, where schools play expanded roles including serving breakfast, offering school based health services, and sometimes even providing students with cold weather apparel, Maynard Adams says that one of the biggest challenges was not having enough money in the school system’s budget. Despite that, during her time on the on the Board, they spearheaded a technology initiative that brought computers into all classrooms, began plans for the construction and renovation of the city’s elementary schools, and then started the transition of city schools to magnet schools.
Maynard Adams, 59, is the granddaughter of Lebanese immigrants, and her parents settled down in New London in the 1950’s to make a life here. She graduated from New London High School in 1977, and has spent her life here in the city. She recently completed the “New London Street Challenge,” which challenges participants to run, walk or bike all 378 streets in the city. Her love for the city is apparent when she describes the city’s neighborhoods as “absolutely beautiful.”
Education is not the only area in which Maynard Adams has served, either. From 1999 to 2007, she served on the New London Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, which she says challenged her with financial struggles similar to those faced on the Board of Ed. During her time on the Board of Commissioners, an initiative was launched to transform Bates Woods and Briar Cliff Apartments, turning them into new and improved middle income housing. They became more updated, giving residents pride in where they live, and providing clean, safe and sanitary living conditions. Maynard Adams says that “Providing moderate income families with this housing was a victory for everyone.”
After decades of service to the city, Maynard Adams is still always willing to lend a hand when called upon, saying “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for. And, those who have done well have a special responsibility to do good.” With that approach to service, she has also spent time on the City’s Charter Review Board in addition to doing volunteer work with organizations like the Homeless Hospitality Center. In her free time, she loves to cook and entertain, and tend to her vegetable and flower gardens.
Brenda’s Note: This profile is part of my “Small City, GREAT Women” Photo Project, which celebrates the women of New London, CT who are doing great things. If you know a woman who would be a good fit for the project, NOMINATE HER HERE.