Some Thoughts, As Our Year Begins

Sitting in Marcia Leifer’s lovely home this morning, I was proud of the Miriam Fund.  With Audrey Morrissey’s compelling presentation of one of our grantees: My Life My Choice, I was reminded of the very important work that we do.  I would guess that we had a record turn out of our membership today, as well as the addition of some prospective members in our midst.  I connected with several people; many expressed their excitement about collaborating with other women to be a force for good in our world.

Eight years ago, my sister-in-law Esta Epstein encouraged me to join what was at that time, Boston Jewish Community Women’s Fund.  I am ever grateful for this opportunity that has made me stretch in so many ways.  I learned to read grants, to assess programs when I made site visits, and to run effective meetings while carefully making sure that each member had a chance to voice her own opinion. 

Today we were lucky to also have as a speaker, Nancy Sternoff, a noted consultant and coach with broad fundraising experience.  Nancy encouraged us to think down the road to where we may want to be in five years.  She pointed out that it is very easy to become mired in process.  It would be aspirational to have a committee with the function of dreaming about the future.  Perhaps the dream could be helping grass roots programs with leaders and infrastructures that need our support.  Our current Chair, Barbara Targum quickly announced that our Executive Committee voted just yesterday to accept letters of intent from smaller organizations, those with budgets of less than a million dollars that need help with capacity building. 

This year we already have several new initiatives on our calendar.  We have the Kurlat STEM Grant process this fall as well as the four-week Jewish learning series with Layah Lipsker.  This all comes before our three grant committees: Israel, Boston Jewish and Boston Secular.  These committees will convene in March and April.

Huge thanks to our Director, Cindy Rubin and her assistant, Sophie Hearne, who spend long hours planning and executing for us.  The Miriam Fund has an effective leadership model.  I enjoy working with our current Chair, Barbara Targum who did a great job running our opening event and with our incoming Chair, Linda Noonan.  There is a buzz of anticipation as our year gets underway.  We hope to see all of you as the next months unfold.

Best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Betsy Banks Epstein
Past Chair

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