annual meeting featured
CEO Sara Schastok
April 15, 2015
The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) hosted a special edition of its annual meeting and reunion dinner on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Crystal Ballroom at The Merion.
CEO Sara Schastok spoke about her 14 year tenure and the future of the Foundation, and ECF Board Member Pete Henderson was presented with the 2015 Kogen Award for Outstanding Service.
annual meeting 2015
Each year the event features a keynote speaker to provide an insider’s view of one of the Foundation’s key initiatives. This year’s speaker was President and CEO Sara Schastok, who in 2015 is winding down her 14 year tenure at the helm of the Foundation, a period marked by tremendous growth and change. Approximately 75 supporters, including board members, donors, business partners and committee members gathered to reconnect with colleagues and friends, and hear the latest news on the Foundation’s goals and accomplishments.
themed keynote speech
Schastok spoke on the theme of “Looking Back to Forge Ahead”, and shared examples that underscored the organization’s growth from $3 to $20 million in assets, and the new restatement of its mission, from “enriching lives” to “helping the community thrive”, as ECF has evolved to address equitable access to educational achievement.
Schastok highlighted the Communityworks initiative, as an agent of transformation for the Foundation. The multi-year collaboration with the Grand Victoria Foundation resulted in a new $6.8 million dollar fund dedicated to early childhood education and workforce development.
“We learned that the connections we can make and leverage are more important than the individual component parts of our work,” said Schastok. “Our story is also part of powerful changes in Evanston as represented by the cross-sector, public-private, tax-supported-community-based coalition of Cradle to Career.”
Thanks to the new Communityworks fund, ECF was able to make new grants for workforce development, launch the innovative Evanston Two Generation Initiative, a career development program for parents based on research by the Foundation’s partners at Northwestern University, and substantially increase early childhood education grants since 2007.
“Kindergarten to workforce readiness… is becoming the means to improving the economic security of families and to protecting what we value so highly—being an inclusive and just community. This is the most important way in which our past connects to our future,” continued Schastok.
“We’ve pooled what we have—this is a moment to step back and enjoy the sight! As I leave the helm, the Foundation has the mix of funds and resources to open many doors going forward…In the face of widening wealth and educational gaps between haves and have-nots and growing evidence of the threats these gaps pose to core American values and experiences…it is hard to argue against ECF doing what it can to address the challenges to those raising children on low incomes.”
Schastok concluded, “What does it take to help a community thrive? The question lives on, and the answers will change over time. Despite our journey in this most challenging decade, together we have succeeded in moving the Foundation from a vague vision to a new and firm launching point.”
award recipient Henderson honored for service
Prior to the keynote, Pete Henderson was named the 2015 recipient of the Jim Kogen Foundation Spirit Award, an annual award recognizing exemplary board service. The award was presented by Diana Cohen, recipient of the 2014 Kogen Award.
Pete Henderson has been a member of ECF’s Board of Directors since 2013. He, and his wife Jean, moved to the Mather in 2012 after many years in Winnetka. His activities there included service as president of the District 36 (elementary) school board and vice chair of the Winnetka Community House board. Past activities in the wider community included long service on the boards of Community Renewal Society (chair) and the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. Pete is a Dartmouth College alumnus. He was a vice president of Booz, Allen & Hamilton, associate dean of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, executive director of Chicago United and executive vice president of Jannotta Bray & Associates. He and Jean are the parents of seven grown children.
bio: Sara Schastok
Sara Schastok joined the Community Foundation as its first full-time employee and first executive director in February 2001, charged with separating ECF from Evanston United Way, building assets to sustain independent operations, and building the Foundation’s visibility. Having grown ECF assets from $3 million to $9 million, she was named President and CEO in 2008. ECF’s assets today are $20.4 million.
Sara brought knowledge of major gifts, foundation relations and publications to the Foundation from positions at the University of Chicago and The Rotary Foundation. She served as assistant to the dean and then assistant dean in Northwestern University’s College of Arts and Sciences from 1987-1993, where her work ranged from curricular policy matters to liaison to the offices of development, admissions, and alumni relations. Between 1977 and 1986, she pursued her first career via visiting assistant professor positions at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Amherst College, and University of California-Berkeley. Sara earned a BA at Cornell, and her MA and PhD in South Asian Art History at the University of Michigan.
Sara was on the leadership team for the Grand Victoria Foundation’s Communityworks initiative, served on the Evanston150 steering committee, and on the Evanston Cradle to Career planning committee, as well as on community advisory committees of St. Francis Hospital and the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern. She is on the steering committees of the Illinois Early Learning Fellowship, a leadership development project of several Chicago-based foundations, and on the Pioneering Healthy Communities Initiative of the McGaw YMCA. She was named Community Leader of the Year by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and was profiled in the “Remarkable Women” series of the Chicago Tribune in 2014.
about the foundation
The EVANSTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, founded in 1986 with current assets of over $20 million in 80-plus funds, helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive, and just community. It builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the common good. The Foundation builds endowments for current and future opportunities, fosters private philanthropy, focuses the impact of collective giving, finds solutions to community challenges, allocates grants, and provides leadership training.