Growth, laughter to be Salkowitz’ legacy at JCF

Tracy Salkowitz, right, with her husband, Rick Edwards, at a Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona gala on Oct. 1. (Martha Lochert)

After six years of dedicated service as the president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, Tracy Salkowitz is moving on.

Salkowitz and her husband, Rick Edwards, are heading to Mendocino, California, where the climate is kinder on her lungs. But her hands-on approach to community leadership has shaped the Tucson Jewish community forever.

“It was my fantasy job to run a foundation, especially in the Jewish community,” says Salkowitz. “My favorite part is working with donors and their dreams about what to support and agencies in creating legacy programs for the future.”

“Tracy has given outstanding professional leadership to the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona,” says James Whitehill, chair of the JCF board of trustees. “She has a very good sense of people. She has helped grow the assets of the Foundation by helping other agencies and organizations launch their own legacy programs. We will miss her strong community building skills.”

Since taking the position, Salkowitz helped JCF continue and expand its role as a critical partner in Tucson’s thriving Jewish community. The agency is viewed highly locally, nationally and internationally for its funding strategies. In the last six years, there has been growth in the  number of funds the JCF holds and its overall assets, as well as in the grants that have flowed into the community. “I’m very proud of the growth of the Foundation during my tenure, having assets grow from $60-65 million to over $100 million,” says Salkowitz. “Last year alone close to $14 million was distributed into our community.” The JCF has become the central address for nonprofits in Tucson to create endowment programs.

While the JCF has had tremendous growth, it has also helped other organizations reach new heights. “Tracy’s leadership has been instrumental in bringing our Jewish Community Foundation to new levels of success,” says Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. “She has given guidance to new strategic directions, resulting in broadening the Foundation’s reach into our community. For me personally, Tracy has been a wonderful partner as the Federation and Foundation have worked hand-in-hand to plan and develop resources for our vibrant community’s agencies and congregations.”

The halls of the JCF office are loud with the sound of laughter and chatter since Salkowitz came on. Not only is the JCF like home to her, but to her staff as well. “It’s a joyous place to work,” says Salkowitz. “A happy staff gets things done. I’m incredibly sad to leave them.”

On May 15, there will be an event held in celebration of the Foundation and its journey since Salkowitz came on, featuring presentations from Salkowitz’s friends and colleagues. Brenda Landau, director of legacy development at the JCF, has worked with Salkowitz for the last three years and is in charge of setting up the event. “Tracy is a mentor and a friend,” says Landau. “If you walk through the halls of JCF, you will most likely hear her contagious laugh. She brings love and joy to the important work of ensuring the future of our community.”

“I would hope that my legacy is people think more about their own legacies and together we can all see to the future of our community,” says Salkowitz.

After leaving Tucson, she hopes to continue her career as a community social worker by consulting with national nonprofit agencies, as well as writing one of her four book ideas and working on her quilting skills.