November is the time of year when we recognize and celebrate philanthropic efforts and reflect on the importance of giving back to the community. On this note, we recently held the University’s annual Kennedy Laureate Dinner at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA. It was a pleasure to see so many distinguished community leaders come together with our University community to celebrate the success of our amazing students, honor the Kennedy Laureate recipients and raise funds for educational scholarships, programs and resources benefitting underserved and veteran students.
Joined by event chairs, John and Cindy McCaffrey, I had the great privilege of honoring the 2016 Laureate Award recipients: Mr. Eric Rudney, the Wente Vineyards of Livermore Valley and Ms. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. We were especially grateful to have the niece of our University’s namesake in attendance. Ms. Kennedy Townsend is the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and active civic leader who serves on many non-profit boards. All three of these recipients have been catalysts for creating incredible results through their involvement in their communities; and through their support and involvement in educational programs, innovative charity projects, philanthropy, civic responsibility and purposeful action. Their advocacy of education and community service truly exemplifies the mission at John F. Kennedy University of giving back and serving our community.
Through the help of grants and fundraising events, such as the Laureate Dinner we have been able to support the Student Success Center in serving Hispanic/Latino and underserved student populations toward achieving their academic goals.
As we continue the theme of philanthropy and giving back this month, we had the pleasure of celebrating National Philanthropy Day on November 15 with the 2016 Philanthropy Symposium hosted by the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at JFK University. This marks the third year that the University has partnered with the Tesoro Foundation, which sponsored the event. The theme of the event was Building Outrageously Successful Nonprofit Organizations, so we were thrilled to have renowned philanthropist T. Denny Sanford as our keynote speaker to share his knowledge and insight.
Denny’s vision and support launched the creation of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which is a national network of Institutes that help nonprofits improve their fundraising skills and donor relations to be more impactful in the work they do for our communities. This year, we had the pleasure of opening the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at John F. Kennedy University, which is led by our dynamic director, Solomon Belette.
We are excited about the role the Institute has had in building collaborations and strengthening the role of nonprofits in our region. To date, the Institute has held about two dozen seminars, networking sessions and webinars for the nonprofit community. We believe that philanthropy is such a great endeavor in the Bay Area, and we are so honored to have this role in bringing together and supporting the work of so many nonprofits.
As this is the season of gratitude, I’d like to thank Chancellor Michael Cunningham for his vision and leadership. I’d also like to thank the wonderful faculty, staff, students and alumni at John F. Kennedy University. I appreciate all of your hard work and hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.