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A member of a pioneer Mill Valley family, Jean Barnard graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College in 1940, first in her class with degrees in political science and music. Concern for good government and the environment led her to monitor board meetings at various levels of local government, which ultimately resulted in her election to the Mill Valley City Council, where she served for eight years, including two years as mayor. In 1982 she ran unopposed for the Marin Municipal Water District Board, and served two terms.
Ms. Barnard worked on a variety of environmental causes, including the creation of the Marin County Open Space District. She led the battle to keep a high-rise community from being built in the Marin Headlands, and the struggle to keep Bolinas Lagoon from being turned into a yacht harbor. She pioneered the early recycling efforts in Mill Valley, and the effort to convince Congress to finish acquiring Point Reyes National Seashore.
Ms. Barnard was active in the AAUW since 1970, and was president of the Southern Marin Branch. She has been Chair of Common Cause Marin and the Marin Chapter of the World Federalist Movement. Ms. Barnard was active in the early years of Planned Parenthood of Marin and the League of Women Voters, and helped to launch the National Women’s Political Caucus of Marin.