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Marsha Cowan

Dr. Catherine Chatterley

Shawna Dempsey

The Luncheon


by Rhonda Spivak, May 31,2012

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba's Women's endowment fund luncheon on May 11th this year at the Fort Gary Hotel, featuring guest speaker Dr. Catherine Chatterley, was a time to reflect on the tremendous success of the Women's Endowment fund, and the visionary women who were the initial donors to the fund which was created in 1994.
 "The fund has accumulated a total of over one million dollars since it was first created in 1994," Marsha Cowan, the Foundation's executive director said. "We have gone from donating $750 to three charities in the fund's first year to $40,000 this year."

Cowan has reason to be proud of the fund which has promoted women's philanthropy, and which goes to women's causes.

"The Women's Endowment Fund is the only philanthropic initiative in the province that exclusively supports women’s programs and initiatives. Since 1994, the fund has distributed over $300,000 to 68 organizations;" Cowan notes.

At the event, the original donors to the fund, many of whom were in attendance in the packed room, were asked to stand and be duly recognized.
The luncheon is the biggest event of the year for the Women’s Endowment Fund. "'We see it as an opportunity to catch up on the Fund’s progress hear from a recipient about the impact of our work and be enlightened by a speaker who is making a difference in society," notes David Greaves, who is Director, Development & Marketing for the Jewish Foundation.
At the event, the attendees were told that any women who fulfills her pledge by December 31 will be identified as  a "Builder" of the Women’s Endowment Fund.
As of a week after the luncheon Cowan reported to the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "We have already had ten pledges filled out."
Greaves adds "We are always raising funds to grow the Women’s Endowment Fund and indeed the Foundation as a whole. This is not a time-bound campaign in the traditional sense, rather a special opportunity for our community of donors." 

WEF co-chairwomen Jane Rabb and Susan Rykiss have been at the helm the organization for two years and saw to it that the luncheon proceeded flawlessly. It was clear from the applause and standing ovation that Dr. Catherine Chatterley received that her address had gone over well. Chatterley is the founding director of the Canadian Institute of Antisemitism and her remarks at the luncheon can be read by clicking here.

Prior to Chatterley's address, Shawna Dempsey , the Co-Executive Director of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA), a recipient of the Women's Endowment Fund spoke. MAWA was founded in 1984 to encourage the intellectual and creative development of women in the visual arts by providing a forum for education and critical dialogue. In MAWA, senior women visual artists are paired with emerging women visual artists for one-on-one peer-based training and support. Many women artists in the province have credited MAWA with their successes. MAWA provides mentorship programs, lectures, workshops, critical reading and discussion opportunities, critical writing opportunities, an international craft workshop program, taught by New Canadian artists, and an artist residency.

For more information about the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba or the Women's Endowment Fund go to

The founding donors of the Women's Endowment Fund are listed below:

Sharon Allentuck

Ethel Amihude


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.