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Amy Shapiro to be honored with Federation Young Leadership Award

Amy Shapiro

When it comes to Jewish Federation leadership, Amy Shapiro’s actions speak volumes. She’s been through local leadership development programs, attended national conferences and international missions; she’s been

{mprestriction ids="1"}a campaign volunteer in different capacities; she’s served on task forces, subcommittees and standing committees; and she’s been a member of the Jewish Federation board of directors. 

All of this service, and yet she has a reputation as someone who leads quietly, without a need or desire for the spotlight. Her humility is apparent when she speaks. As an example, when asked what makes her proud, she says, “I value the relationships I have created in Federation — the intergenerational friendships. I am proud of the fact that I have been a part of creating this community.”

The way she speaks — emphasizing her pride in being a part of the community and the relationships she has built — says much about the type of leader she is. It is for these qualities, and her incredible dedication over a number of years, that Shapiro will be honored with the Dan Fingersh Young Leadership Award during the Jewish Federation’s 81st Annual Meeting on Sept. 17.

The meeting will be held in the White Theatre, and will feature New York Times bestselling author Ari Shavit. It is free and open to the community — all are encouraged to attend the meeting to recognize the work of community leaders like Shapiro and others, the impact of community programs and the inspiring mission of the Federation.

After getting involved with Jewish Federation through Women’s Philanthropy outreach and engagement programming, Shapiro was inspired to take on leadership roles because of the reach of the organization and the impact it has.

“Federation dollars support a full range of services to our community,” she says. “We support programs that reach JCC camps, the Jewish day school, Village Shalom, etc. My immediate and extended family [members] have utilized many of these programs — whatever stage my family is in, there has been a Federation-supported program there for us. I feel very lucky.”

Her experience with Jewish Federation at the center of her community and her desire to continue to be part of a strong and vibrant community keep her going.

“I want to ensure that there continue to be programs that engage and support our community through every stage of life,” she says.

One of Shapiro’s most meaningful experiences has been her involvement in the Israel & Overseas Committee of Jewish Federation, tasked with evaluating overseas funding needs. As part of evaluating programs, she has had the opportunity to travel to partner communities in Bulgaria, Romania and Israel, and also to visit Hungary.

“We visit all the agencies that we fund — we meet with staff and program participants,” she explains. “Time spent in these communities is fulfilling. We see firsthand the impact of Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City funding. We are watching Judaism reignite in Eastern European communities that were decimated 70 years ago. But now — thanks to our time and financial commitment — they are educating Jewish youth through innovative programming, celebrating Jewish holidays and supporting the elderly. The impact we are having with our overseas partners cannot be overstated — we really are making a difference overseas.”  

This summer, Shapiro was able to take her daughter, Sophie (17), with her on a mission to Hungary and Romania. “Sharing this with Sophie deepened my feeling of responsibility to these communities,” she says.

Shapiro credits community member Steve Israelite with getting her started in learning about grant making, fund allocation, our local Jewish agencies and programs that support the needs of the community. She worked with Israelite in the mid-90s at the then newly-formed Jewish Heritage Foundation, and still considers him a mentor today. 

“I appreciate his honesty, his dedication to nonprofits and his no-nonsense approach to getting things done,” she says. “He has taught me to take volunteer work seriously. My time is valuable to me and to my family — if I commit to a project, I want to do the best work possible.”

The Dan Fingersh Award recognizes individuals who show their commitment to the community through their leadership activities with the Jewish Federation and its partner agencies as well as their involvement in the Annual Community Campaign. The award is a living memorial to Dan Fingersh, son of Pella and Jack Fingersh. By spotlighting Shapiro, this award provides a crucial link to individuals who are leading today and will be tomorrow’s senior leadership.