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Marsha Cowan

Marsha Cowan 2013 Annual Luncheon Speech

posted December 1, 2014

On behalf of the Board and Staff of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, I would like to welcome you to our 39th annual luncheon.

My name is Marsha Cowan, and I am the CEO of the Foundation. Before I make some important introductions, I would like to call forward our city Mayor Sam Katz and The Honourable Sharon Blady, Minister of Healthy Living and Seniors, to recite the blessing before the meal.

Thank you.  While you enjoy your meal, allow me to make a few introductions, beginning with our head table. From your left are:

-              The Foundation’s Past President – Steve Kroft

-              Ceci Gorlick,  Larry Vickar,  Sherman Greenberg

-              President-Elect Anita Wortzman

-              Our guest speaker,  Craig Kielburger

-              And the Foundation’s President, Joseph Wilder


Allow me to welcome special guests:

    From the Provincial Legislature

          Dr. Jon Gerrard

          The Honourable Christine Melnick

          Heather Stefanson

          The Honourable Andrew Swan

     Councillors from City Hall

           Ross Eadie

           Paula Havixbeck

           Brian Mayes

           John Orlikow

      Harvey Secter, Chancellor of the University of Manitoba


     Bob Silver, Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg.  Thank you to Bob who donated a table to the students of 6 city-wide schools.


I would also like to introduce our luncheon sponsor, Mr. Jon Holeman of RBC Dominion Securities, Private Wealth Management. Jon has been the sponsor of this luncheon since 2000. That is unbelievable and we are so very grateful for your continued support of the Foundation.


Finally, I am honoured to welcome representatives of 38 charitable organizations. These are people who do great things to make Winnipeg the wonderful place that it is. Join me in welcoming representatives of:




         The Winnipeg Foundation

         The Asper Foundation

         St. Boniface Hospital Foundation

         Misericordia Health Centre Foundation

         CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

         Mount Carmel Clinic Foundation

         Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba

         Victoria General Hospital Foundation


Education and Cultural Institutions:

     University of Manitoba

     Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

     Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University

     Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism

     Marymound School

     Queenston School Parent Advisory Council

     Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education

     Chai Folk Ensemble

     Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

     Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg

     Assiniboine Park Conservancy


Community Services:

     Community Living Manitoba

     Jewish Child and Family Services

     Macdonald Youth Services

     Rady Jewish Community Centre

     Rainbow Resource Centre

     Rotary Club of Winnipeg

     B’nai Brith Canada

     Laurel Centre

     Winnipeg Harvest


Health Services:

     Canadian Red Cross Society, Manitoba

     Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba

     Sexuality Education Resource Centre Manitoba


Housing Services:

     Shalom Residences

     Siloam Mission

     The Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre


B’nai Brith Jewish Community Camp

Manitoba Camping Association – Sunshine Fund

Jewish National Fund

 …and of course Free The Children!


We apologize if we missed someone!   


Take a look at the newsletter on your table and the presentation on the screens. Both highlight some of the beneficiaries of our funding and the impact the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba has in the community. Enjoy your meal.




Opening Remarks            Good afternoon – I hope you are enjoying your meal.  We have a large crowd for our Annual Luncheon – a sell-out actually, on the heels of our recent Endowment Book of Life program, which was also sold out. About 1,000 people between the two events. It’s been quite a year for the Foundation!


There is a special energy in the room today, and I can’t help but think it’s because of our exceptional guest speaker who we will hear from shortly. Craig Kielburger has blazed new trails in philanthropy and activism, and we’re all eager to hear from him.


First, I would like to share a few words about the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. 


I am proud to tell you that our assets have now reached $80 million, confirming our position as Manitoba’s second largest public foundation. With a growing asset base, we are able to continue to support organizations in the Jewish community as well as Manitobans of all backgrounds.  We have a robust scholarship program that changes lives for many new comers to our country. We are proud of the impact we have. Earlier this year, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba was discussed in the Manitoba Legislature. Members from all sides heaped praise on the Foundation for the work that we do.  It was a proud and humbling moment.


In September, we welcomed 23 new signers to the Endowment Book of Life bringing the total to 721. The Endowment Book of Life is a program through which donors agree to leave an estate gift to the Foundation. The success of this program – our flagship program – will determine the success of the Foundation in the future. I can tell you – with 721 commitments that future looks very bright indeed.


Today, though, I would like to focus on a theme that I normally don’t discuss – and that is, the theme of a Foundation as a business. Yes, we are a charity. Yes, our existence is designed around distributing dollars to organizations that need our help. And, yes, we are driven by the work of volunteers. Still, to be successful, we must act like a business. Focused. Strategic. And deeply committed to customer service.


Our donors are our customers. They come to us for advice about gift planning. They come to us to learn about their philanthropic options. They come to us to learn about community priorities. As volunteer and professional leaders of the Foundation, we listen, we learn, and we equip ourselves with the facts and figures donors need to make informed decisions that are right for them.


But donors aren’t our only customers. Organizations that build their endowments at the Foundation are customers, too. We see ourselves as a Foundation that helps organizations plan for a strong financial future. We see ourselves as a solution and a safe haven for organizational endowment funds. And we make it easy for organizations to do business with us. We’ve done this by liberalizing our encroachment policies to allow organizations to draw on their endowments in a limited way in the event of a rainy day. We have also instituted a program called FundMatch that provides organizations with a financial incentive to expand or launch an endowment fund. It’s good business and the growth in this end of our business is exponential.


What else is good business? Celebrating success – and we’re about to do that in a significant way. In 2014–2015, we will celebrate the Foundation’s 50th anniversary by telling the stories of our community and its people. The focal point of the celebration will be a major gala to be held October 27, 2014 – a year from now. More details will follow. For now, I can tell you that next October we want you to join us for dinner instead of lunch.


Before we proceed, I would like to thank the staff for their un-tiring and remarkable efforts and our volunteers who make the work of our committees seamless.  I also want to thank the ticket sellers for today’s events.


I would also like to thank our Board of Directors for their leadership and wisdom. We have assembled a top-notch group of people around our board table – people who care deeply about the Jewish community and about community life for all Manitobans. A special thanks to Joseph Wilder, our President, for his guidance and enthusiasm.

I would like to tell you that after Craig speaks, he will be thanked by Jonathan Paterson who has spent the last 3 summers in Kenya working on Free The Children projects.  I am also pleased that Craig Kielburger will be staying an extra 20 minutes or so after his formal remarks to answer your questions. So, you might want to text your office now to let them know you might be a little bit late returning to work. If you DO have to leave, there will be a small window when you can exit quietly after the formal presentation before the Q and A.

Now, I am honoured to call on the President of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, Joe Wilder, who will bring welcoming remarks and introduce our guest speaker.


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