On November 30, Community Foundation president Nancy Kieling received the Community Leader of the Year award at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala.

Congratulations to Nancy and her fellow honorees: Entrepreneur of the Year Tracey Syphax of Capitol City Contracting, Business Leader of the Year Lori Rabon of the Nassau Inn, and Innovator of the Year Debbie Schaeffer of Mrs. G’s.

Special thanks to our hosts from the Chamber and to Glenmede for their sponsorship of the Community Leader of the Year Award.

Below is a transcript of Nancy’s remarks:

It’s especially meaningful now, in our 20th year, to be honored in this way by all of you, my friends and colleagues. The Community Foundation’s founding trustees began with a pretty ambitious vision: create a home and an infrastructure for the charitable activity that was already all around us.

Their vision is now reality: 13,000 donors, including many of you, have made nearly $100 million in gifts – just one of the many ways business supports this region.

77 talented civic leaders have steered our organization as working trustees. There’s now a $75 million savings account for our collective future. More than $35 million in grants have flowed from the 280 funds that our friends and neighbors have set up.

When people come to us to plan and build their charitable legacies, their stories are intensely personal, but at the heart of each one is an ambition to make a real difference with whatever means they have.

• They want to put hope and opportunity in the path of others.
• They want to help people innovate, to make something better.
• They want to honor a loved one by inspiring the rest of us.

So our idea of leadership has been to help people get where they want to go. Twenty years ago, central New Jersey’s philanthropy was an underserved market. Today, together, we have made the Community Foundation a thriving public hub for generosity in action — and it belongs to us all.

So I look back with wonder at the determination and confidence of the people who set all this in motion.

I look out at you, and at this wonderful award, and see a community with a growing sense of what it can accomplish.

And I’m always looking forward, of course, imagining the generous individuals who are going to come through our door tomorrow and in the years ahead with ever-better ideas.

We can’t fully see that future, but I know that it will look back at us. Let’s all of us make sure it has every reason to smile.