Marilyn Skolnick was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925. While in New York, she received her bachelor’s degree in Geology at Brooklyn College, the University of the City of New York. Skolnick later received a master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma and participated in additional post-graduate work at the State University of Iowa and the University of Texas. By 1998, Skolnick was listed in Marquis'
Who's Who of American Women.
Skolnick began her career as an environmental and transportation activist when she moved to Houston, Texas, earlier in her life. The cause for her move was a job transfer on behalf of her husband, Herbert, at the Gulf Oil Corporation. Upon her arrival, the city of Houston had no public transportation system. On behalf of the Houston League of Women Voters, Skolnick advocated for one. In return for her transportation advocacy, the Houston mayor appointed Skolnick to a transit liaison committee. Unfortunately, she had little time to serve on this committee as her husband was transferred to Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1971.
Upon her arrival in Monroeville, Pa., Skolnick continued pursuing her interests in transportation issues. Beginning in 1971, she acted as an advocate for public transportation. She was able to do this through her active participation in the League of Women Voters as an observer to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission. In particular, Skolnick focused on issues relating to the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County region.
Skolnick can be considered an avid environmentalist. This can be seen in her participation in organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), the Allegheny County Health Department, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission, the Allegheny County Transit Council, and the Division of Air Quality. In addition to her participation in these environmental organizations, Skolnick was also an ardent reporter for causes related to air quality, hazardous waste, land use, clean water, and recycling. In relation to her desire to report, Skolnick hosted and produced a local Pittsburgh television show, "Focus on Issue." It was not uncommon for her to compose several articles in issues for the
Allegheny Sierran (the newsletter of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club) i.e., "Is There a Maglev in Our Future?"
Skolnick was able to remain close to the causes by chairing various committees on air quality, conservation, and transportation. Her constant public involvement allowed for her to push for change in the areas of environment and transportation that she saw as necessary. Skolnick was president of the League of Women Voters in Monroeville from 1973 to 1975, and director of the League of Women Voters Pennsylvania from 1977 to 1985. Skolnick served as both a board member and Consumer Relations Chair for the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT). She served a a member of the Executive Committee (Excomm) for the Sierra Club as well as the chair of Transportation and Growth Management. She also served on committees and as chairperson for organizations such as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, Small Business Assistance Program, the Transportation Research Board, Allegheny County Hazardous Waste Task Force, and the Monroeville Planning Commission.
Marilyn Skolnick was the recipient of numerous awards for her contributions in the environmental and transportation arenas. These awards include a Certificate of Recognition from J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award, the American Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award, YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh's "A Tribute to Women for Leadership in Community Service," Woman of the Year by the Monroeville Jaycees, Citizen of the Year by the Monroeville Times-Express, and the National Sierra Club Environmental Hero for Transportation. In addition, in 2002, Marilyn Skolnick was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn College Alumni Association.
Marilyn Skolnick continues to reside in Monroeville.