At Larkin Street Youth Services, we stand on the shoulders of giants—those whose lives have paved the way for service and compassion in our community. Among these, Jo Kennedy shines as a guiding light, her life a reflection of the same dedication and commitment that we strive to instill in San Francisco’s youth.
Born to Hugh Kennedy, an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1896, and Brigid Cassidy, Jo’s early life in San Francisco was steeped in the values of hard work and community. Her father’s journey from the farms of Co. Donegal to the bustling streets of San Francisco, where he would own a grocery store on Harrison Street, laid the foundation for Jo’s own path of service.
Jo’s educational journey began at Berkeley, and her career spanned significant roles at American Presidents Lines and United Airlines. Her time abroad in Ireland, where she worked at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, brought a global perspective that she would carry throughout her life. Returning to San Francisco in the 1950s, she and her father made their home on Baker Street—a base from which Jo’s life of service would extend.
Following her father’s passing, Jo, driven by a lifelong love of learning, earned a Master of Arts from Stanford. Her subsequent 25-year tenure at City College was transformative, not only for the educational institution but also for the countless students whose lives she touched. Jo’s role in developing the ESL program and her founding of the City College Speech Clinic stand as testaments to her belief in the power of education—a belief that resonates deeply with our mission at Larkin Street.
Jo’s retirement was anything but the end of her journey. She embraced learning with zest, studying Italian and traveling through Europe, always expanding her horizons and encouraging others to do the same. With her vibrant, self-decorated hats and generous spirit, she became a beloved figure in Cow Hollow and an inspiration to all who knew her.
Jo’s legacy of mentorship and love for learning continues to guide us at Larkin Street. Through generous contributions from her estate, her legacy continues to be a beacon that lights the way for our endeavors to end youth homelessness. We see her influence in the bright eyes of the youth we serve and in their steps towards a promising future—a future Jo believed in and strived for.
As we celebrate her remarkable life, we are reminded of the profound impact that one individual’s love, support, and guidance can have. We invite you to join us in honoring Jo Kennedy—a mother figure to many, a friend to all, and a lifelong learner whose legacy will forever be a part of Larkin Street’s heart.
If you would like more information about remembering Larkin Street with your legacy giving, please do not hesitate to Larkin Street’s Chief Development Officer, Gayle Roberts, (415) 673-0911 ext. 301, [email protected], to have a confidential conversation.