Adele Katz (center)
Adele Katz (center)

By Erin Roll

Adele Katz, the founder of Montclair tutoring and mentoring group Sister to Sister, has died.

In an interview with Montclair Local in November, Katz said the group and its young women faced many new challenges in the over two decades that Sister to Sister has paired middle and high school girls with adult female mentors.

Katz died on Jan. 25, according to Sister to Sister executive director Dottie Bennett. She was a few days away from celebrating her 80th birthday. 

Katz was born and raised in Haddonfield. In 1981, she graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers.

Sister to Sister marked its 20th anniversary in November. Since the group’s founding in 1998, Sister to Sister has helped more than 600 middle and high school girls.

Katz did not just allow anyone to work with “Her Girls,’” said Montclair Board of Education member and Sister to Sister’s program director Latifah Jannah.

“She often saw in us, as grown women, what we could not see in ourselves, what we could bring to the table that is Sister to Sister, and that we could be the change agents that were needed. And she supported us to make it happen,” Jones said.

In the two decades since Sister to Sister’s founding new difficulties arose, including the threat of school shootings and cyberbullying. “It’s even worse now, in addition to the regular stuff that teenagers have to deal with,” Katz said in November.

In the beginning, the program was affiliated with the YWCA of northern Essex County and targeted to area high school girls. Over the years, the program expanded to provide mentoring services to middle school girls, as well.

A similar group for boys, Brother to Brother, was formed a few years after Sister to Sister’s start.

Katz was especially proud that 100 percent of the girls involved with Sister to Sister had graduated high school, and those women had a high rate of college and university acceptance rate.

She told Montclair Local she would have loved a similar group to Sister to Sister during her own teenage years.

Katz continued to play a role in Sister to Sister even after she retired as executive director in 2017.

Katz is survived by her husband Gideon, seven children, 12 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, three brothers, three cousins, and many friends.