Margaret Joan “Gogi” Hodder passed away at home with her family on January 16, 2021 after a courageously strong battle with melanoma cancer. Gogi lived an exceedingly vivacious childhood in Turlock participating in 11 years of ballet and 10 summers working and teaching at a local horse ranch. She spent her junior year of high school in a small village just outside of Lausanne, Switzerland. She fell in love with her hosts, the Renaud family, who remain precious friends, and attended a gymnase school with the Renaud children.
After high school, she received an academic scholarship to Stanford University, majoring in Russian Studies and the Russian language. In her junior-year-abroad, she studied in the Soviet Union, both in Tbilisi Georgia and St Petersburg, and traveled extensively in Europe. Upon returning to Stanford, she needed two classes to graduate, both from the same professor, who took sabbatical leave that year. Gogi said that was her best year at Stanford. She took numerous elective classes while co-managing the Slavianskii Dom residential house. It was promptly decided the meal quality merited improvement, so they hired a French chef. The 47 student residents were initially quite cautious about the chef until they were presented with ‘lavender mashed potatoes’, which then became a favorite of theirs and their frequent student guests.
At Stanford she became an advocate of the Women’s Self-Defense Program. She taught self-defense on campus and after graduation, taught women and children in numerous Bay Area organizations throughout the 1990’s, including Women Defending Ourselves, Women’s Safety Project, and Alive and Kicking. She also served on most of their Boards.
Gogi had a 20-year career managing and negotiating medical liability claims for NorCal Mutual Insurance Company and BETA Healthcare Group. Her passion, however, was always nonprofit work. In recent years she worked as Finance Director at the nonprofit Building Futures for Women and Children and as a member of Shining Star Consulting, guiding organizations such as Centro Legal de la Raza.
With her ability in the languages of French, Russian, and Spanish, she greatly enjoyed traveling and visiting dear friends in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South and Central America.
In 2000, Gogi joined her close Stanford friend, Lara Mendel, in starting a nonprofit, The Mosaic Project. Mosaic’s mission is to unite children of diverse backgrounds, provide them with essential community-building skills, and empower them to become peacemakers. Gogi served as President of Mosaic’s Board of Directors for 18 years and remained committed to the mission and goals. In the recent 20th Anniversary Annual Report, Mosaic shows their continuing growth rate. They have served 70,000 individuals in the Bay Area thus far, primarily children and adults well. Mosaic creates microcosms of the just, diverse, inclusive world we envision, demonstrates that peace is possible, and inspires action. As Gogi wrote in her final post:
“The Mosaic Project was my answer to creating peace: bringing people together in a positive way to understand and befriend one another, work well together, and solve conflicts productively. Mosaic was my first child and my life’s work. So if you are looking for a way to honor my legacy and support it continuing, please consider contributing. THANKS to all who have donated and to those considering making a donation! I am extremely grateful!”
With her wife of 16 years, Sheri Prud’homme, and their two teenagers, Nico and Noah, she resided in the Woolsey Compound, a small group of three families all belonging to the Unitarian Church. Her children were her heart. They were the most precious, beloved part of her life, and she was most sad to leave them. She faced her ten months of cancer with the same depth, grace, openness, and courage she has always had, remaining at home supported by family and friends who love her.
She is survived by her wife Sheri, children Noah and Nico, sister Mary Hodder, brother Richard Hodder, and parents Jan and Fred Hodder. She is also survived by numerous other family and friends, including the other members of the Woolsey Group: Laila Ibrahim, Rinda Bartley, their daughters Maya and Kalin and son-in-law Mitch Brooke, as well as Kathy Post, Dan Goss, and their son Dash.
Memorial gifts may be made in lieu of flowers to the Gogi Memorial Fund of The Mosaic Project, 478 Santa Clara Ave. Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94610, www.mosaicproject.org/donate. (Please write, “Gogi Memorial Fund in the comments box.)