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5 influential women from Plan’s 75 year history

We’re opening up the history books to celebrate some of Plan’s most influential women. Each of these women impacted Plan’s history and helped lay the foundation for a brighter future.

Esme Odgers was Plan’s first Sponsorship Coordinator. She organized every delivery between sponsor and sponsored children during the Spanish Civil War.

Esme Odgers was Plan’s first Sponsorship Coordinator.

Esme Odgers

Esme Odgers left her job as typist to help children affected by the Spanish Civil War. During that time, she became one of the founding members of Foster Parents Plan, helping more than 200 Spanish children affected by violence. Esme became Plan’s first sponsorship coordinator, using her typewriter to document case studies and organize deliveries from sponsored children and Plan sponsors.

Esme risked her life to protect the lives of displaced children and, in the process, discovered the potential in every child.


Katharine Marjory Ramsay helped publicize the plight of children, becoming an influential Right’s campaigner.

Katharine Marjory Ramsay
became an influential Right’s campaigner.

Katharine Marjory Ramsay

Did you know a Scottish Duchess played a part in establishing Plan? It’s true! Katharine Marjory Ramsay, Duchess of Atholl and Scotland’s first female parliamentarian, got involved when she became the chairperson of the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief. Ramsay joined forces with Plan founder, John Langdon-Davies, teaming up to evacuate distressed children during the war. As a result, Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain was born.

After caring for hundreds of children during the war, Ramsay became chairman of the British League for European Freedom in 1945.


Edna Blue
Edna Blue spent years raising awareness and fundraising for Plan initiatives.

Ingrid Bergman and Edna Blue (right) participating in Plan’s post-Spanish Civil War drive for shoes.

During the Spanish Civil War, Edna Blue took a stand. Blue began a campaign to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the war, becoming Plan’s first official marketer. Soon enough, she had radio commentator, Walter Winchell, broadcasting Plan’s message over the radio waves. It didn’t take long for donations to come pouring in.

Her persistence proved possible when a year-long campaign resulted in First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, sponsoring a child through Plan. Within two months, the number of sponsors jumped from 35 to 200. Blue was eventually named chairman and her legend lives on.


Gloria Matthews
Gloria Matthews was Plan’s first International Executive Director.

Gloria Matthews, Executive Director of Foster Parent’s Plan, receives the Italian Republic’s Order of Merit.

From her humble beginning as a secretary, Matthews became Plan’s first international executive director after 15 years of dedicated work. She travelled across the globe advocating child sponsorship and impacting the lives of numerous children. Matthews helped Plan expand into Korea, Vietnam and five South American countries. Under Matthew’s direction, the number of sponsored children grew from 9,000 in 1954 to more than 53,000 in 1969.

To top off her memorable career, Matthews founded Plan’s first ever European donor country in the Netherlands. The move overseas strengthened the organization and ultimately paved way for Plan’s international growth.


Anna Freud
Anna Freud was the daughter of Sigmund Freud. Funded by Plan, Anna established the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic.

Funded by Plan, Anna established the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic.

Anna Freud, daughter of Dr. Sigmund Freud, saw the need for stability in a child’s life during the war. She teamed up with her associate, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham, and established the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic in 1939. Both therapists began working with hundreds of children affected by the war.

Freud practiced groundbreaking therapeutic techniques to offset the feelings of separation children were facing during the war. Her methods were essential to the rehabilitation of countless children, and Hampstead Nurseries remained under Freud’s direction until 1957.


Learn more about Plan’s history