How You Help — Stories of Impact
Harris Weston Leaves Federation Extraordinary Legacy, Again
I often think about the legacy that I want to leave, for my friends, my family, and my community. Harris Weston’s legacy is nothing short of extraordinary. I am inspired not just by his generosity, but also his keen understanding of philanthropy in all its forms. Here, Jim Friedman, Director of Planned Giving and Endowment, tells the story of Harris’s enduring gifts. –Danielle V. Minson
Although Harris Weston, often referred to as the “father” of the modern Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, passed away over 11 years ago, his vision for strengthening Cincinnati’s Jewish community is evident this year more than ever. That is because the Federation recently received from the estate of Harris and Alice Weston one of the largest legacy gifts in its 124-year history. Because of his dual legacies to Federation, visionary planning and generous giving, Harris made sure that his and his late wife Alice’s generous lifetime of giving to the Federation will continue to have a broad impact for generations to come as a result of their permanent contribution to the annual campaign.
“This significant gift demonstrates the belief Harris and Alice placed in our community. We will continue to honor their gift by working diligently to sustain our vibrant Jewish community,” said Deb Steinbuch, Director of Planned Giving and Endowment/CYJL at Federation.
Harris’s humility was an essential character trait. In an interview with CET, Harris stated, “I don’t know if it’s from my parents or if it’s just part of me, but I guess I just thought that if I were in a position to do some good in the world, I ought to do it.” And he did—during his lifetime and with his legacy gift, forever.
In 1967, Harris had the bold vision and commitment to merge two predecessor organizations, The Associated Jewish Agencies and the Jewish Welfare Fund, into the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. This merger created one central focus for both the development of resources, as well as the allocation of those resources to meet the pressing needs of our community. With Harris’s unwavering leadership, this merger finally happened in 1969. Not surprisingly, Harris was named the first President of the newly created Jewish Federation.
Knowing the value of exemplary leadership, Harris and his wife Alice endowed an annual award for emerging leaders within the community, enabling them to attend national and international gatherings of their peers. In addition, they set up an award to recognize outstanding senior and junior Jewish communal professionals. These annual awards have provided incentives, recognition, and funding for professional enrichment and growth, which Harris knew was key to keeping our community thriving.
Harris believed in a strong permanent endowment as a way of making sure the future would be bright and enduring. “Harris’s contributions demonstrate just how much can be accomplished through endowed gifts,” said Danielle V. Minson, Chief Development Officer and Managing Director of the Federation. “We are forever grateful for his vision and generosity. His legacy will help support and inspire our community for years to come.”
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