Sunday, December 31, 2017

Asia, Israel and the Jewish World

As Co-Chair of The Jewish Funders Network, I have the pleasure of being part of a philanthropic circle of peers who practice the art of giving. Generosity is our calling card and our reward is meeting inspiring people on this lifelong learning journey.

back – l-r, Debbie Dadon, Simone Szalmuk-Singer, Tracie Olcha, Belinda Bardas
front – Sam Lipski, Angelica Berrie, Solina Chau (Executive Director,
Li Ka Shing Foundation), Andres Spokoiny

The Jewish Funders Network Asia conference in Hongkong, organized by the Australian Jewish Funders and the Pratt Foundation, focused on “Asia, 
Israel and the Jewish World.”

Asian philanthropy has a long history in Hongkong and two of its most prominent Foundations were our guest speakers - Ronnie Chan of the Morningside Foundation and Solina Chau, Director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Living Mindfully in the Digital Age

In a digital world, we suffer from a wealth of information and a poverty of attention. Distracted by the constant feed of brain stimuli, we forget what it means to inhabit our lives. We look without seeing as we multitask through the day, depriving ourselves of the gift of being present.

Listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Daniel Goldman, Richard Davison and Sharon Salzberg, thought leaders in the field of mindfulness, I shut down my phone to shut off the world and listen deeply to wisdom shared by Arianna Huffington, Jewel and others at Wisdom 2.0's Mindfulness in America Summit.

Be Here Now is my favorite mantra yet it it the lesson I am prone to forgetting. Even harder to master is the Buddhist core of compassion practice, to begin by being compassionate with myself. We are here also to care for our selves.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How Women Lead in Philanthropy

“We are all more capable than we could ever imagine or admit to. We need to make sure that we are using that power now, and not waiting for a different time or when we’re more ready. We’re ready now. We need to do.” ~ Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg

When my husband, Russ Berrie, died in 2002 my philanthropic journey took a lonely turn. The gift of that harrowing loss was life-saving as it gave me the opportunity to embark on a lifelong learning journey that I could never have imagined.

Finding my voice as a woman in philanthropy, discovering other women who shared the wisdom of experience with me, learning by doing how philanthropy expresses who you are in how you give, taught me leadership lessons that no philanthropy guru could ever impart.
Rebecca Gratz painted by Thomas Sully, 1831

The landscape in relation to women and philanthropy is shifting. While women today own one-third of America's private businesses and control more than 51% of the wealth in the United States, the perception exists that "women don’t give big donations" and "women have to ask their husbands before they can give money."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Fourth of July

Langston Hughes' poem stirs memories of the American Dream - what America used to be, a country of immigrants who made it the great nation it is today.

O, let America be America again
The land that never has been
— The land that never has been
yet— And yet must be—the land
where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor
man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America, Whose
sweat and blood, whose faith
and pain, Whose hand at the
foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty
dream again. 

*NPRLin-Manuel Miranda has released an incredibly striking and stylized music video — really more of an impressionistic mini-film — for the song "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)" featuring K'NAAN, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC and Residente.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

She-roes: Power. Wisdom. Compassion. Wonder.

In 1941 when female superheroes were rare, Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who invented the lie-detecting polygraph machine. Conceived as an out-of-the-box superhero, She triumphed over evil with feminine virtues of wisdom and compassion. "Sired" by an Amazonian queen, imbued with powers from the gods, this "She-ro" brought Greek mythology and feminist values to fight for peace, justice, and equality.

The only female comic book character with stories continuously published for the past seventy-five years, Wonder Woman's longevity is a testament to her global appeal as an icon of woman power. Generations of girls resonated with her message of empowerment to become fearless women.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Breaking Our Hearts for Humanity

"One of the most important things I’ve learned in my work is that you have to let your heart break. When you connect with people who are suffering, you have to force yourself not to turn away from their pain, but to share in it, and carry it with you, wherever you go. Because, in time, that pain hardens into strength, into conviction - and it motivates us to act. " ~ Melinda Gates

Philanthropists are lovers of humanity. In the practice of philanthropy, we are exposed to the brokenness in the world and are given the opportunity to repair what we can. We cannot heal everything but if we can transform one life, we can save the world.

Discovering what it is we want to repair is the starting point of the philanthropic quest. We lead with the heart and develop a mission and strategy around our passion to create the change we want to see.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Live Passionately!

31 million people between the ages of 44 to 70 feel unfulfilled in their chosen jobs, want an encore career, and seek something that provides greater meaning and impact.

“The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life” ~ William Damon

70 percent of all employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and actively disengaged in their work.

“The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters." ~ Emily Smith

Intentionality is a quality that keeps us focused on what matters most, requires being true to our self, and is deeply rooted in personal values and aspirations. It means paying attention to the meaning we give to our everyday life.

Image by Aaron Draper

Living an intrinsically meaningful life; knowing what issues we would die for, what passions we live for; how passion, aligned with purpose, creates a life of meaning - are not lessons we acquire in the early stages of our lifelong learning journey.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Simulation Training Program in Teaneck NJ

The Institute for Simulation Learning at Holy Name Medical Center offers an authentic, immersive environment for healthcare professionals to develop safe, innovative and compassionate approaches to patient care.

Russell Berrie Foundation Trustees & Holy Name Staff

Simulation learning is the process of recreating real life medical scenarios for training purposes - to increase patient safety and help save lives.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Philippine People Power Revolution

On the anniversary of the peaceful revolution that toppled a dictator in the Philippines, I remember the passion and courage of my fellow Filipinos who stood together in front of military tanks and transformed their political reality.

"Revolutions are the periods of history when individuals count most." ~ Norman Mailer 

Catholic nuns from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception help form the first line of defense against Marcos troops on EDSA Boulevard, two miles from the headquarters of anti-Marcos leaders. Religious leaders were a key part of the "People Power" revolt that brought down Marcos on February 24, 1986. (Photo: © Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley/Kim Komenich)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Revolutionary Road

Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are,
sometimes pressing 'send' is not enough . . . .
This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring
of democracy like I've never seen in my very long life.
~ Gloria Steinem

January 21, 2017 was a remarkable outpouring from women marching in solidarity all over the world. More than a peaceful democratic movement, this revolutionary spirit contains the potential to change the world.