At UJA-Federation of New York’s Banking and Finance event, more than 250 professionals from the industry gathered to honor Leslie V. Godridge, U.S. Bank’s executive vice president and head of National Corporate & Institutional Banking. The event, held at the Pierre in Manhattan on June 24th and hosted by UJA-Federation’s Banking and Finance Division, raised $700,000 to support UJA-Federation’s work.
The gathering that evening was so important, said Andrew Tananbaum, a former division chair and past honoree, “because it recognizes the determination of our industry to come together to both recognize a prominent leader within the banking and finance [field], and share our concern for the challenges facing our community.”
Jerry W. Levin, UJA-Federation’s president, also expressed his pride at being part of the division that has such “a remarkable group of business leaders who’ve shown up, who care about people not as fortunate as we are.”
Many of the speakers attested to Godridge’s “tireless efforts to raise critical and substantial dollars for those in need,” and with her extensive experience working with charitable causes, Godridge said she is impressed by what she’s learned about UJA-Federation. “I have worked with dozens of worthy charitable organizations that do good work and do it well,” Godridge said. “But no one surpasses UJA-Federation in scope and mission, of what they attempt, and what they accomplish.”
“My Heart Goes Out to Those Children”
Before the event, Godridge paid a visit to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency. At the JBFCS nursery school that Godridge visited, she saw children who received help with language, learning, and developmental issues, which was quite a personal experience for her since several young people in her own family have faced similar challenges.
“My heart goes out to those children, and I know firsthand what a difference UJA-Federation is making in their lives, and the lives of their families,” she said.
To illustrate other aspects of the important work that UJA-Federation and its network agencies accomplish, William E. Rapfogel, executive director and CEO of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency, told the attendees about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. From helping people get hot meals in the days after the flooding to aiding in the ongoing effort to help people rebuild their homes, he thanked UJA-Federation and the attendees for making it possible.
“Each and every one of you has a share in the people that we rescue, that we lift up, and that we help make a difference for,” Rapfogel said.
Richard K. Davis, one of the chairs of the event, and the chairman, president, and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank, also spoke to UJA-Federation’s disaster response work. Davis said that in times of crisis it’s hard for people to know how they will react. Those who run away from the danger, he said, might feel guilty later on that they weren’t able to do more to help others.
On the other hand, he said, “UJA-Federation runs toward the problem. It already knows how it will behave and it serves as a guide and a steward for many others to follow.”
Davis also noted the commonality he sees between the work of the banking and finance industry and UJA-Federation’s work. In “banking and finance, we’re dream makers. We’re the people who you come to if you have an opportunity you want to pursue, and if everything lines up perfectly we can do it together, and if not we will be dream protectors who will tell you not yet, but eventually yes,” Davis said. “We’re a safe haven and we’re an enabling organization; we help get things done. UJA-Federation it’s a safe haven, an empowering organization, and a dream protector as well.”