JCF Celebrates a Legacy of Leadership at 64th Annual Meeting
More than one hundred Foundation fundholders and supporters gathered on the evening of December 13th for the Jewish Community Foundation’s 64th Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers and Trustees. Guests enjoyed a lively reception and an engaging program which reflected on a year of generous giving, strong communal partnerships, and meaningful programming for philanthropists of every age and stage of life. The event also celebrated retiring Executive Director Lauren Mattleman Hoopes’ many inspiring contributions to the organization during her 20-year tenure, and welcomed Josh Stein as her capable successor.
As a special surprise for Hoopes, her children Alexandra and Jacob Sunshine, and Nathaniel Hoopes traveled from across the country to attend the meeting. The children had the honor of lighting the menorah to celebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah and leading the holiday blessings. The D’var Torah followed, given by JCF Past President Stan Zeldin. Zeldin tied Hoopes’ service into the Jewish teachings. “When we think of Lauren’s legacy and what she’s done for us, the programs she’s created, cementing our commitment to the Jewish community, we know that this is a joyous day because we’ve had her blessings for 20 years,” he said.
After an update on market performance by JCF Investment Committee Chair Brian Scharf, JCF President Frank Lipsman and Hoopes jointly reported on the Foundation’s impactful work in 2023. They shared that by mid-December, Foundation funds had distributed more than $25 million to more than 1,000 unique charities. This figure includes more than $1.5 million distributed to 43 charities addressing the emergency in Israel. 2023 also remained a robust year in terms of legacy giving development. Donors established 30 new planned gift commitments which represent $8.1 million in current and future dollars. Hoopes and Lipsman also described philanthropic programming highlights of the year, including the B’nai Tzedek Shuk, J-LEAD Grants Celebration, Jewish Culture Fest and outreach to professional advisors.
Another meaningful surprise for Hoopes was a video created for the event featuring several JCF leaders reflecting on her outstanding accomplishments and lasting impact on the organization. JCF Past President Stanley Bushman was involved in hiring Hoopes. In the video he remembers, “The first person that we interviewed was Lauren Hoopes. And after the interview, Stan [Zeldin] said, ‘Ok, we’ve got three more to talk to.’ And I said, ‘No way, we’re not going to talk to any others. Lauren is it. There’s no question in my mind about it.”
“She’s brilliant. She really is, and she has been able to lead us in a way that she makes everybody around her better,” remarked Past President Merilyn Berenbom in the video.
This sentiment was echoed by Alice Jacks Achtenberg. “I had no idea until I became president, what a wonderful leader Lauren was. Lauren’s legacy to me was grooming her staff, making sure that people felt that they could do their best work. Lauren was an excellent leader in that way.”
In recognition of the momentous occasion, Lipsman announced that a new JCF fund has been created in Hoopes’ honor to provide the Foundation with the resources to maintain staff excellence through professional development, tools to better serve fundholders, and opportunities to strengthen the position of the Foundation within the community. As of this publication, more than $150,000 has been contributed to the fund by nearly 70 generous donors.
“Among Lauren’s greatest attributes are her fierce loyalty to her staff, and her strong desire to help them succeed and help make JCF stronger,” said Lipsman. “The Lauren Mattleman Hoopes Excellence in Leadership Fund will be used exclusively to support the people that work hardest to run this organization…we hope that 50 years from now we will still be obtaining grants from the ‘Lauren Hoopes Fund,’ and her importance to building this organization will be remembered long into the future.”
Hoopes was visibly moved by the honor and graciously addressed the audience. “What I must say is how grateful I am to this community, to have had a career here of meaning and service, and how much I appreciate all of you – lay leaders, staff, fundholders, professional colleagues, friends, and family - for all you have done for me on this unexpected path I set upon over 20 years ago,” she said. “You have inspired me, encouraged me, supported me, partnered with me, challenged me, and occasionally, absolutely infuriated me. All of which has helped me learn and grow both professionally and personally, which I hope also has helped JCF become a stronger organization, with a vision for its future as the literal foundation for the Jewish community.”
“I am so excited and if I may also say, so proud, that the Foundation has seen the many gifts that Josh Stein will bring to bear in his new role as executive director,” said Hoopes of her successor. “Josh has the qualities of intelligence, patience, grace, creativity, and integrity that are so essential to leadership. Josh, I have every confidence that you are the right person to lead our beloved Foundation into an even brighter future.”
The evening concluded with remarks from Stein. “I will take the helm of an organization that has so much potential thanks to the very solid foundation built by Lauren, her predecessors, our talented professional team and visionary lay leaders,” he said. “When I returned to Kansas City ten and a half years ago, I was drawn by the opportunity to give back, or I prefer to say, give forward to help further develop this community that has shaped my own identity. I believed then, as I do today, that the Jewish Community Foundation provides the perfect platform for me to accomplish my personal and career goals and to help secure our community’s promise.”
At the meeting, the following Trustees were elected: Fay Balk, Brian Block, Taly Friedman, Martha Gershun, Edward Goldstein, Michael Liss, Alana Muller, Scott Picker, Brian Scharf, Marcia Soltz, and Gary Weinberg.
The following officers were elected: Frank Lipsman, President; Martha Gershun, Vice President; David Goodman, Vice President; Joe Hiersteiner, First Vice president; Linda Lyon, Vice President; Brian Scharf, Vice President; Bob Palan, Treasurer; Joshua Stein, Secretary; and Jay Lewis, Assistant Secretary.
If you’d like to make a contribution in Lauren’s honor to The Lauren Mattleman Hoopes Excellence in Leadership Fund, please visit jcfkc.org/LMHfund