Though Willens was principally a journalist, she was also part of the Babysitters, a children's folk group formed at the instigation of Lee Hays of the Weavers. When she and her husband moved to Brooklyn in 1955, they lived on the floor above Hays, then suffering from the enforced inactivity of the blacklist against the Weavers. She and Hays made up songs for her baby, leading Hays to suggest that they form a group to record kid's songs for Vanguard. The group was made into a quartet with the addition of future star movie actor Alan Arkin and his wife, and recorded four LPs for Vanguard. According to Arkin, Willens was "the one who makes it sound like real parents singing to real children."
Willens was also a columnist for the business pages of the New York Journal -- American and a playwright. Her long friendship with Hays and journalistic background made her well-suited to the task of penning Hays' biography, Lonesome Traveler: The Life of Lee Hays, published in 1988.