06/07/2012 05:57 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2012

Marion Sandler: Honoring the Vision of a Remarkable Woman and Fortune 500 CEO

This week, the world lost a woman of valor. Marion Sandler was one of the first and longest-serving woman CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. A path-maker in the financial world long before women entered those halls, she was one of only two women working on Wall Street when she began. After marrying her husband Herb, a lawyer, the duo built a financial institution lauded for its treatment of its workers.

They also built a legacy. Together, the Sandlers contributed more than $1.3 billion to a foundation that would move America in a progressive direction.

The foundation has given more than $150 million to basic scientific research. They founded ProPublica, an investigative news organization, helped start the Center for American Progress and the Human Rights Center and Center for Equitable Growth at Berkeley. They also contributed to organizations from Human Rights Watch to the American Constitution Society, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to the Center for Responsible Lending. And they gave what to them was small, but to us was essential, support to the Truman National Security Institute as we were getting off the ground, and continued that support as we expanded.

I did not have the honor to know Marion personally. National security was not what got her out of bed in the morning. But she was as tough-minded with progressive infrastructure as she was with her business decisions. Progressives needed a voice on national security, and she wasn't going to let her feelings get in the way of doing what needed to be done. Their support made us proud, because, true to her way, they conducted immense due diligence on us before giving. We knew that they had taken the time to understand what we did -- and to ensure that we did it well.

The national security field, like Wall Street, is a male-dominated land. The women of the Truman Project talk frequently about their need for role models -- women who have had successful careers and families, who have been tough and respected, who have lived their values -- and made an impact. Marion Sandler was all those things, and more. While progressives have lost a lioness, she will live on in all that she started.