Presenting Sharon Rosenfeld

A Heartfelt Introduction Speech By Fred Levick

It is a tremendous honor for me to be here tonight to help present Sharon Rosenfeld with the 2018 JCamp 180 Outstanding Development Professional Award. I want to thank Wally Levitt for graciously giving me this opportunity.

This award is given each year to the camp development professional who has made a significant impact on a Jewish camp’s long-term vitality and sustainability through increased cultivation, solicitation, and/or stewardship efforts. The award winner should represent the highest values of the fund-raising profession and the Jewish value of tzedakah.

What makes a successful development professional?

The legendary fundraiser Jerold Panas, who passed away earlier this year, made a list of the top ten qualities:

  • Impeccable integrity
  • Good listener
  • Ability to motivate
  • Hard worker
  • Concern for people
  • High expectations
  • Love the work
  • High energy
  • Perseverance
  • Presence

Panas acknowledged that having all these qualities would be a tall order. Sharon Rosenfeld has them all.

And of these ten qualities, Panas said, “I conducted a study of major donors to learn what they wanted most in the volunteer or staff calling on them. Guess what led the list? Energy.”

Ask 100 people what they notice about Sharon and they will all use the word “energy”. She is a redheaded energizer bunny (thankfully without the drum set).

I had the privilege of working with Sharon for nearly 19 years, up until my retirement just a few weeks ago. Sharon began working at Ramah Darom in December 1999 and I arrived in March of 2000. You learn a lot about a person working side by side with them for that long. What I learned, and witnessed nearly every day, is that Sharon is not just an extraordinary professional, she is also an extraordinary person.

Sharon has amassed a long list of measurable and significant accomplishments.

It’s true that she has raised well over $25,000,000 during her tenure.

And I should tell you that Sharon has done this single-handedly, with a staff of one (herself) and a part-time assistant, while juggling the responsibilities of managing our never-ending capital campaign, annually raising funds for scholarships, new programs and maintenance of our facilities, and developing campaigns to establish and sustain new, and now long successful programs, like our Camp Yofi for Families of Children with Autism, and our Tikvah Support program for campers with special needs.

These points alone would merit the recognition and accolades she so richly deserves.

Yet, what I want to share with you is a greater truth about Sharon; the immeasurable things she does, the contributions she makes day in and day out that make her extraordinary, not just as a development professional, a staff member, and an advocate for Jewish camping, but as a leader, a mentor and a human being. These are things that must be felt and experienced, and if you know Sharon, you will understand what I am talking about.

Sharon does so much more than simply raising funds.

She often plays the roles of executive secretary and office manager.

She is the office mediator and mother, giving everyone a big dose of compassion and tough love when needed; she makes sure that we celebrate the happy occasions and comfort others during the difficult and painful ones.

She is a cheerleader for Ramah Darom, a community builder and a bridge to, and guiding hand for, our Board of Directors.

She is a former camper parent who cares for alumni as her own children. Her house and dinner table are often filled with Ramahniks on Shabbat and holidays. Sharon makes sure no one is ever alone on a holiday;

For me Sharon was a person I could call on to handle any task (including some I probably should have done myself).

If we needed a dentist or a physician to volunteer to treat an Israeli counselor in an emergency, without fail Sharon would find one.

If we needed to find a resource to help with a special program, Sharon could be counted on to manage it.

If there was a crisis, and we have had our share over the years, Sharon would never hesitate to take a leadership role.

If I needed guidance, or a sounding board, or someone to tell me when I was on the wrong side of things, I could count on Sharon to provide a listening, thoughtful ear and the appropriate and honest feedback.

There is no task, no job too small, that Sharon would not willingly do; often without being asked. From stuffing envelopes to organizing storage closets, Sharon is always willing to help.

She rallies everyone around her to work together and lives like a Musketeer: a living embodiment of the motto “all for one and one for all”.

Just listen to what some of her colleagues, peers and Ramah Darom lay leaders think of Sharon:

Robyn Diamond, Darom’s Director of Marketing and Communications, has this to say: “When I think of Sharon, I think Giver. She gives 200% of herself and asks for nothing in return. She is truly the glue that holds the office together and her love shines through everything she does.”

Geoff Menkowitz, Director of Camp Ramah Darom adds: “She is a role model who sets a standard of excellence for her colleagues in our organization, for professionals across the Ramah Movement and for the entire field of Jewish Camp. But it is Sharon’s kindness, thoughtfulness, and mentschlichkeit that leave a lasting impression.”

Rhonda Parker, Director of Development, Camp Ramah New England says: “Sharon is a wonderful mentor and partner; always bringing good humor and great wisdom to her work.”

John Magoulas, Development Director Ramah California calls her “passionate and caring, not only of Ramah Darom but the entire Jewish community; … she is a fearless fundraiser.”

Jeff Goodman, National Business Manager for the Ramah system adds: “Since the first time I met her 20 years ago I felt we were close friends. She always asks about my family, remembers how old my kids are, where they are in school and what they are up to. I think of Sharon as the glue that has held Ramah Darom together.”

That’s two people who refer to her as “the glue that holds” things together. Are you beginning to get the picture?

Ramah’s lay leaders also know how special Sharon is:

Elise Mayer Lipoff, former Chair of our Development Committee and Vice President wrote this about Sharon: “She understands fundraising is all about relationships. It’s inspiring to see Ramah through her eyes – her love shines through and is infectious.”

David Krueger, a past president of Ramah Darom says, “She gives the title Development Director new meaning. With Sharon development goes way beyond fund-raising; it goes to the very essence and wholeness of both Ramah Darom and the people who make up our community. She always remembers things that are important about the people she associates with; she is our ambassador and just such a caring, giving and lovely person.’

Sandy Herman, another past president notes that “Sharon’s welcoming energy fills the room,” and Julian Brook says ‘she is an important and influential face of our institution and has helped “make it happen” in so many ways.”

Howard Zandman, the immediate past president of Ramah Darom sums it all up this way: “Sharon always has a positive outlook, always inspiring others to do good and feel good. Her attitude is beyond reproach and she never loses sight of the goal. Even in challenging times she never gets frustrated; she assesses the situation and always finds a positive way to move things forward. For her the glass is never half empty, but always half full.”

I hope I have shared enough with you to help you understand what a special individual Sharon Rosenfeld is and why she is so deserving of this recognition.

To know Sharon is to love her and to be loved in return.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, one of the most influential sages of the 20th century, once said, “When one looks truly at the good side of everyone, others come to love him very naturally, and he does not need even a speck of flattery.”

Fred, Sharon and “The Harold guy”

He could have been speaking about you, Sharon. You are a beautiful soul who exemplifies his words. You are a rare person who looks truly at the good side of everyone you encounter, and you, in turn, are dearly loved by all those who are blessed to know you. I know you care not for even a speck of flattery, yet here we are, not to flatter you, but to praise and honor you for all you have meant to Ramah Darom and the world of Jewish camp.

On behalf of the dozens of volunteers and board members who have worked with you at Ramah Darom, your co-workers and colleagues in the Ramah Movement, and all those here who share in the vital work of assuring the continuity of Jewish identity, people and culture through transformative experiences, let me say thank you and Yishar Kochech. You have shown us in your humble and gentle way what it means to be an outstanding professional. Congratulations.

Sharon Rosenfeld was presented the Outstanding Development Professional Award at JCamp 180 Annual Conference
on November 2, 2018, in Springfield, Massachusetts

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