Hanson Park is located at 38 Springfield Ave, Cranford, NJ

Hanson Park Conservancy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization


Township of Cranford

“The Hanson Park Conservancy has been pleased to work with Richard and his family on these critical improvements to the park. Our efforts have created a working partnership that we believe will continue to help improve Hanson Park,” said HPC President Ellen McHenry.

Several speakers, including Richard W. Brown, Ellen McHenry, HPC president, Union County Commissioner Chair, Rebecca Williams, Rabbi Renee Edelman, Temple Sha’arey Shalom, Tina Early, YWCA, Diane Esty, Girl Scouts, Ravenell Williams, Barbara Seater, and friends, and colleagues of Jan, gave a moving account of her love for her family, her passion for gardening and Jan’s commitments to her community.  

HPC would like to thank all those who helped make this special event possible: Steve Robertazzi, Director of Parks and Recreation, The Cranford DPW, Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty. Union County Commissioners Rebecca Williams and Bette Jane Kowalski, St. Michaels Parish, Cranford Auxiliary Police, Cranford TV 35, Tom Hannen, Emi Sato, Kevin Papa, Linda Brown, Ana Martinez, Hugo Ubillius, and the Trustees of the Hanson Park Conservancy.

Please visit www.hansonparkconservancy.com to see the upcoming calendar of events for the Jan Lilien Education Fund and the rendering of the soon-to-be Jan Lilien Memorial Triangle Garden.

Donations to the Jan Lilien Education Fund can be made online here. Or you can mail a check, made payable to the Hanson Park Conservancy, with a note that this is a donation for The Jan Lilien Education Fund to:

The Jan Lilien Education Fund
Hanson Park Conservancy
PO Box 542
Cranford, NJ 07016

Jan Lilien Memorial Garden

One hundred attend groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate Jan Lilien Day on April 24, 2022

On Sunday, April 24, the Hanson Park Conservancy hosted a memorial tribute to Jan Lilien.  Jan was a tireless human rights activist and soul sister to women and girls everywhere. She had most recently served as the Executive Director of the YWCA of Union County, an organization whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.

After Jan passed away on May 3, 2021, her husband, Richard W. Brown, wanted to find a way to honor her memory and legacy.  Since he and Jan enjoyed walking through Hanson Park, he contacted HPC President Ellen McHenry about planting a tree.

Upon learning about the efforts to replace Hanson Park’s distinctive wooden benches, he asked if he could ask for donations in Jan’s memory to replace a bench.  One hundred seventy-three friends donated to purchase two memorial benches.

The final total was more than the cost of the benches. HPC and Mr. Brown decided to establish “The Jan Lilien Education Fund” with the remaining funds.  The Fund will support programs that focus on sustainability and environmental awareness.

Working collaboratively, HPC and Richard’s family looked at other ways to honor Jan and help Hanson Park.  Upon hearing that Conservancy was looking to refurbish the triangle garden, which serves as a focal point when entering the park, he decided to fund the project further to honor his wife’s memory. 

HPC President Ellen McHenry and a committee of Trustees worked with the Brown Family and a Landscape architect, Carolle Huber, to design a plan unveiled at Sunday’s celebration for the Jan Lilien Memorial Triangle Garden at Hanson Park.

As April 24th was Jan’s birthday, the Brown Family invited one hundred family and friends to Hanson Park to dedicate the new garden, announce the education initiative, and honor Jan’s memory. 

“Jan’s living memorial – the tree, the benches, the reimagined triangle with a wind sculpture, and the Education Fund – exists because of Ellen and the members of the Conservancy and Jan’s family and friends. This collaboration has resulted in a tribute to Jan, reflecting her love of her children and grandchild, her love of flowers and gardening, her passion for life, and her commitment to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world,” said Mr. Brown.

All photos on this page taken by:
​Neeru & Asish Patel, Kevin Papa

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