Education & Youth

April 13, 2024

Elizabeth “Betsy” Goodspeed Frederick Fund

Elizabeth (Betsy) Goodspeed Frederick (1939 – 2023) was an esteemed educator, technology pioneer, dance enthusiast, and staunch advocate for civil rights. A Donor-Advised Fund was established to honor her multifaceted legacy, providing the family with flexibility year-to-year to support causes dear to Betsy’s heart, from promoting STEM opportunities for girls to backing Planned Parenthood or a friend’s dance company.

Betsy’s journey spanned coasts, from her birth in Falmouth Foreside, Maine, to Tucson, Arizona, then to Oakland, California, where she studied dance and mathematics at Mills College. After earning a teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley, she instructed dance at Berkeley High School. She married her first husband, Michael (Mike) Allen Janssen, in 1963, and they had two children, Aaron and Liza.

After a divorce, she eventually settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her two kids, where she taught math and computing in the public school system until her retirement in 2005. Her dedication earned her a master’s degree in education from the University of New Mexico in 1988 and the Mark Orchant Maximum Impact Award from the New Mexico Technology Council in 2011.

A true trailblazer, Betsy played a pivotal role in integrating computing into education, serving as Director of Technology for Albuquerque Public Schools and spearheading initiatives like the first internet services installation for the entire school system. She also contributed to programs like the Supercomputing Challenge and Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), promoting STEM education and working with underrepresented communities throughout New Mexico.

Beyond her professional achievements, Betsy was an active global citizen who traveled throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe as part of the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN). This nonprofit empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. She hosted many teachers from other countries at her home.

Betsy was a member of New Mexico Women and Science in Engineering, which organized conferences to increase the participation of young women in technical careers. She was also a member of the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Computing Teachers and SIGTelelearning, parallel arms of the International Society for Technology in Education.

In her later years, Betsy moved to Guilford, Connecticut, where she continued her community involvement, notably establishing a yoga and movement class for seniors in Shoreline Village, CT; of course, she became the Board President. She remained deeply connected to art and dance, frequently visiting New York City to support her college friend’s dance company.

Betsy was a devoted grandmother to Elle and Max Petra, and Hunter Janssen and spent as much time with them as she could. In 2019, she reconnected with a former family friend, Bob Walsh, and moved back to Santa Fe. They spent their days playing bridge, reading periodicals and Shakespeare, and surprised everyone by getting married in September 2022. 

“My mother, Betsy Goodspeed Frederick, illuminated every room with her warmth, wit, and kindness. I can’t think of a better way to honor her legacy than creating this charitable fund to support the causes she cared about most and I am so grateful to my inlaws, Diane and Guido Petra for providing the initial funding,” explained Liza Janssen Petra. “Typically, in my role with The Guilford Foundation, I work with families to set up the funds; it’s been a comforting and powerful experience doing this for my mom. Her time living in Guilford was short, but she loved the spirit of this incredible community that so generously welcomed her. She would be honored by this tribute.”

Betsy’s zest for life was evident in her resilience, having battled and survived three cancers before succumbing to a fourth in 2023. The Elizabeth (Betsy) Goodspeed Frederick Fund is a way for her spirit to live on through the causes she championed and the lives she touched; it’s a testament to her enduring impact on education, technology, and social justice.

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