Community Foundation Celebrates 35 Years

September 18, 2015

The Community Foundation of New Jersey last night celebrated its 35th anniversary with a salute to the fundholders and stand-out philanthropists who have immeasurably made the Garden State a better place. CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES >>

Nearly 200 fundholders, partners, and nonprofit organizations joined the celebration at CFNJ’s Morristown headquarters. Set among the trees of New Jersey’s Washington Valley, the Tracy House provided a unique setting for donors – young and old, big and small – to celebrate the myriad programs driving positive impact across the state.

CFNJ Panorama 2

Board Chairman Tom Uhlman welcomed guests with an opportunity to join CFNJ on its Changemaker Projects, calling the curated projects a unique opportunity to achieve real impact in the immediate term. Uhlman specifically called out CFNJ’s work in the area of juvenile justice reform, with the state recently banning the punitive use of solitary confinement for minors.

Hans Dekker, CFNJ’s president, next spoke about the Foundation’s many achievements over its three and a half decades. He recognized two attendees in particular: Robert Corman for his work to found the organization and longtime executive director Jim Kellogg for increasing the Foundation’s assets by nine times. The late Sheila Williamson was also recognized for her work in building the organization as its first executive director.

In a surprise to staff, Dekker also recognized the Foundation’s longtime Chief Operating Officer Faith Krueger and its Chief Financial Officer Susan Soldivieri for their decades of service to the organization.

Next, board member Helen Mazarakis recognized the four Young Changemakers who were selected to each receive a $2,500 award. Dominique Lee of BRICK Academy, Adam Lowy of Move for Hunger, Jasmine Moreano of City Green, and Aakash Shah of Be Jersey Strong were each born after CFNJ’s founding, but are today improving New Jersey’s communities in inspiring ways. Click here to read more about their work.

“What inspires us is working with those in our society who are on the margins,” said Dominique Lee.

Half Group 1

Margarethe Laurenzi, CFNJ’s director of leadership grantmaking and engagement, recognized the first of two featured honorees, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Cecilia Zalkind. CFNJ and its fundholders have proudly supported many of Zalkind’s projects – including a successful initiative to increase student access to healthy school breakfasts – and look forward to her continued advocacy on behalf of New Jersey’s young people.

“Because of people in this room, we have done so much for New Jersey,” said Zalkind. “The finish line is ahead. It’s in our sights. And the efforts of everyone here and others will get us there.”

Dekker returned to the podium to speak about Bernard Berkowitz’s lifetime of philanthropic service. “We all know the phrase, ‘success has many parents’,” said Dekker. “A better phrase in our context is, ‘many of New Jersey’s philanthropic successes have one parent: Bernie Berkowitz.'” Over Berkowitz’s tenure, the Community Foundation has made more than $350 million in grants to community organizations.

“CFNJ’s growth didn’t happen by chance,” said Berkowitz. “We are so fortunate to have talented, dedicated trustees and loyal, committed staff.”

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We thank all those who helped celebrate our 35th anniversary and give special thanks to the phenomenal young musicians from Jazz House Kids for providing the evening’s musical entertainment.

We are determined as ever to continue our partnership with all those who seek to make communities in our state and around the world stronger.

Here is to another 35 years of simplifying giving and amplifying impact.