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Wendy Kirst Interview for John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project (October 2018)

"Conversations With and About Mike"

John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project
Access conditions
The materials are open for research use and may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with an attribution. For commercial permission requests, please contact the Stanford University Archives (
Copyright (c) The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.
Sound recording-nonmusical
Still image
1 audio file; 1 text file; 1 photograph
Stanford (Calif.): Stanford Historical Society
October 10, 2018
born digital
Kirst, Wendy
Kirst, Wendy
Mancini, Nancy

Stanford Historical Society
Wendy Kirst shares memories of the times that she and John W. Gardner crossed paths during his lifetime. She begins by describing her youth in Chicago, her college education at Smith, and her time in secretarial school. Kirst then recalls how she was hired to work as “secretary number two” for Gardner when he was at the Urban Coalition and describes following him to Common Cause. Years later, Kirst reconnected with Gardner when he moved back to Stanford and into a house near the Kirsts. She shares details of hosting Gardner’s 80th birthday party and memories of Gardner and his wife, Aida.
Bibliographic information
Wendy Kirst lives on the Stanford campus with her husband, Professor Emeritus Mike Kirst. Beginning in the late 1980s, the Kirst and Gardner families were campus neighbors and very well acquainted. Mrs. Kirst had also known John Gardner in Washington, DC, when, as a new college graduate, she worked for him at the Urban Coalition and Common Cause. Mr. Kirst had worked with Gardner in Washington, DC, during that period as well.

Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives:



Editor’s Note: The Appendix for “Conversations With and About Mike” contains transcripts for the recorded audio and video clips. To view the Audio Transcripts go to this page >


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About the Project

The purpose of this biography project is to make a fascinating man’s life and accomplishments come alive. Dr. Michael W. Kirst, while recognized in influential academic and policy circles, is generally unknown to those most actively engaged in American education in the trenches of the nation’s classrooms and local boardrooms, including teachers, principals, and school district leaders.

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About the Author

Dick Jung first met Dr. Michael W. Kirst four decades ago. Mike, then Professor in the Schools of Education and Business, was completing his first year as President of California’s State Board of Education. During Jerry Brown’s first term as Governor, as Mike tacked between Palo Alto and Sacramento, Dick served as the Teaching Assistant for Mike’s Stanford “Politics of Education” course.

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About the Team

Dick is supported by a project team of content, digital research, and online experts that includes a senior education policy reviewer, a digital archives manager, and a website and multimedia design coordinator.

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