Betsy Shure Gross was born in 1940 and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. Her paternal grandmother, Dora, lived with her family and was an important influence in Shure Gross's life. Her family was not observant but celebrated holidays together over a festive meal. Images of the concentration camps in Europe haunted Shure Gross, who developed a determination to fight prejudice. Shure Gross attended college in the South, but withdrew to get married. She and her husband returned to New Haven for his medical training. Influenced by the problems of poverty and changing urban neighborhoods that she witnessed as a teacher in the local elementary school, Shure Gross began to advocate for improving parks and open space. She helped restore Edgewood Park, which she had loved as a child. When Shure Gross and her husband relocated to Brookline, she turned her energies to the Emerald Necklace, organizing residents and city government to take responsibility for restoring it. Through her advocacy for the Emerald Necklace, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Shure Gross helped found the National Association for Olmsted Parks, coordinating its national conference in Boston. Through this conference, she brought together environmental activists with historic preservation professionals. Ultimately, their joint efforts resulted in a $32 million restoration program in Massachusetts. Shure Gross entered state government to work on the state's Urban Heritage State Park Project. Since 1999, she has served as the Special Assistant for Community Preservation in the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, working to pass the Community Preservation Act of 2000, which helps communities protect open space, historic sites, and affordable housing. Shure Gross and her husband raised two activist children and live in Brookline, Massachusetts.