Rick and Karen Zakalik
December 1, 2023

We are honored to spotlight Rick and Karen Zakalik who will be honored with the 2023 Endowment Leadership Award by the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies next Wednesday at the joint Annual Meeting of the Foundation and Federation.  The Leadership Endowment Award is the Foundation’s highest honor, acknowledging the Zakalik’s extraordinary service, generosity, and commitment to the Jewish community in Buffalo.   

Foundation President Dan Kester praised the Zakaliks, stating, “Over the years, Rick and Karen have played pivotal roles in advancing various agencies and organizations within the Buffalo Jewish community and beyond. They have profoundly impacted local Jewish institutions and the community at large.”

The Zakaliks are Founding Donors of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus and have been active participants in the Buffalo Jewish Federation and the Israel Bonds Campaign for decades.  They were recognized for their volunteerism by Temple Shaarey Tzedek in June 2004 and Rick is a past recipient of the Federation’s Ann and Meyer Richwun Young Leadership Award.

Rick currently serves as the Foundation’s Treasurer.  He is a Past President of the Foundation’s Board and has been a Trustee for many years.  He has held leadership roles at the Buffalo Jewish Federation, chairing the United Jewish Fund campaign, Jewish Family Services, and the Kadimah School.  In 2010, he was honored with the Keter Torah Award at Temple Beth Tzedek.   Rick also served as the Executive Director of the JCC of Greater Buffalo from 2010 to 2020.  He played an instrumental role in increasing membership participation by 75%, and annual revenue at the JCC doubled during his tenure.  He also oversaw the successful $4 million renovation of the Holland Building.

Karen boasts an equally impressive fundraising resume.   Between 1995 – 2001, she served as a Board Member, Officer, and became the first female Board President at the Kadimah School.  She is a gifted grant writer and a graduate of the United Way’s Board Governance Project.  Karen’s dedication also extends to cultural events, such as her role as Publicity & Marketing Chairperson for a celebration of Bible Women by Elizabeth Swados in 1996.  In 1997, Karen became a Pro Board Member at The Buffalo Zoo, taking responsibility for promoting fundraisers like “Polar Bites” and “Wines in The Wild,” which became some of the Zoo’s most successful events.  She also served as the Co-Chair for a Bonim [“Builders”] recognition evening at the Hillel Foundation of Buffalo and coordinated the production of a commemorative book documenting the history of Hillel in Buffalo.

From 1997 to 2000, Karen was a Committee Member of the Foundation’s Legacies Book of Life program, introducing the new endowment program at the 1997 Jewish Community Book Fair. From 2002 to 2004, Karen chaired the Community Relations Council (CRC) at the Buffalo Jewish Federation.

Irv Levy, the Foundation’s Executive Director, praised the Zakaliks, stating, “Rick and Karen have made substantial contributions to support and improve Jewish Buffalo, while providing significant support to international Jewish causes. The Foundation deeply values their enduring dedication and generosity.”

You can still register for next week’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, December 6 at Temple Beth Tzedek beginning at 6:30 pm. Visit bit.ly/2023BJFandFJP.   There is no cost to attend. 

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