Phyllis Cook planning to retire from Jewish Community Endowment Fund

After nearly a quarter-century at the helm, Phyllis Cook has announced she will step down as executive director of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Endowment Fund and as associate executive director of the Jewish Community Federation. Her departure is set for June 30, 2008.

Why retire just as the endowment fund has reached a new pinnacle of financial might? “I will have served 25 years,” she told j., “and I think that’s a fitting time to move on. It’s been a great privilege and I’ve enjoyed every minute.”

A native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Cook joined the endowment as director in January 1983. At the time, the fund had less than $28 million in assets, and distributed $4 million in grants. At last count, the endowment claimed more than $2.6 billion in assets and allocated more than $200 million in grants over the past year.

“During her tenure, Phyllis has created one of the largest, if not the largest, federation endowment funds in the country, as well as numerous innovative programs associated with endowment,” said endowment committee chair Richard Rosenberg. “Fortunately, she has also had the ability to attract and retain a superior staff, so when Phyllis retires, the federation has the people to carry on the legacy she established.”

Cook says she will continue working privately with donors and institutions, Jewish and non-Jewish, to “help them achieve their philanthropic objectives, and help them repair the world.” The federation also announced it will soon assemble a team that will work closely with Cook over the next year to implement a transition to new leadership.

John Pritzker, president of the federation’s board of directors, added, “The federation is deeply grateful for the incomparable contributions Phyllis has made and will continue to make to the entire Jewish community.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.