East Bay federation honors two with its young leadership awards

Sandy Colen, an Orinda investment manager, is determined to increase the assets of the East Bay federation's Jewish Community Foundation five-fold over the next five years, from $20 million to $100 million.

Frances Ganz, a community activist from Danville, brought in nine new "Lions," or donors of $5,000 or more, as co-chair of the federation Women's Division Lion of Judah campaign.

The two received Moses and Celia Lesser Young Leadership Awards last month at the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay's annual meeting.

Outgoing federation president Jerry Yanowitz, who presented the award, said Colen and Ganz had "a promising future in Jewish community leadership."

He gave them each gave $1,500 stipends, which they can use to attend a United Jewish Communities General Assembly, an overseas mission or another Jewish program of their choice.

The awards were established in 1967 in memory of Moses and Celia Lesser by their son Richard Lesser, who designated the fund, held by the federation, to honor young leaders.

Colen, 47, was recently elected a vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation after chairing its investment monitoring committee for the past two years.

His goal is to quintuple the foundation's assets by "targeting high net-worth donors," he said. In the works are "one-on-one educational meetings with potential donors to make them aware of what the federation does for the Jewish community."

The foundation has hired consultants from Merrill Lynch to help with its effort to court major donors. The investment brokerage has been assisting the foundation with its investment management program for the past two years.

Colen became active in the Jewish Community Foundation eight years ago when it was a subsidiary of the federation called the Endowment Foundation. In his tenure, the endowment has grown seven-fold to $20 million and is now an independent entity affiliated with the federation.

The foundation makes grants to start new programs, such as the Jewish Open Studios art tour in November and a Lehrhaus Judaica interfaith marriage conference slated for next year, according to Ami Nahshon, the federation's executive vice president.

Ganz, 37, who is also an active fund-raiser, became campaign chair of the federation's Women's Division last month. She won the Lesser Award for her work as co-chair of the Lion of Judah campaign.

"My goal is to work my way up in the federation, but my family comes first," said Ganz, a mother of two . "My role with the federation is creating a community for women that gives them the opportunity to feel comfortable being philanthropic in the Jewish community."

Ganz also serves on the board of Jewish Family and Children's Services of the East Bay and chaired its first major fund-raising event in 1998. A former Wexner Heritage Foundation fellow, she attends Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek with husband Neil and their children, Alex and Samantha.

Colen is a member of Temple Isaiah in Lafayette with wife Jean and their children, Aaron and Elyse. He is co-chair of Isaiah 2000, a capital expansion campaign that raised $3 million to fund a $4.25 million educational building. The congregation dedicated the 4,000-square-foot, 16-classroom building last month with a 50-square-foot ceramic tile tree of life.