The incoming chair of Women of Vision embodies a passion for making a difference.
Penni Blaskey, the incoming chair of Women of Vision, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Philadelphia, is a psychologist who works primarily with children who have learning and adjustment issues. She is clear in her analysis of the many benefits that she has derived from her involvement in Federation and other Jewish communal organizations.
“I have met many people who share my values and my passion for making a difference in the community,” she says, adding that this passion has been fueled by the educational events and programs she has attended that document pressing needs in the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community, in Israel and around the world.
She and her husband, Mark, president of the Federation Endowments Corporation, were participants in a Federation mission to Israel celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jewish homeland. They traveled with fellow congregants of Congregation Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, where they both have been active for many years. “Mark was a past president of the synagogue, and Mark and I together were past presidents of the congregation’s Young Married Group.”
The mission was a catalyst for Penni to enhance her volunteer leadership portfolio. She joined the board of HIAS PA and participated in classes at Gratz College, where she met several women who were involved in Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy affinity and its Women of Vision Foundation. She considers Renee Sackey to be both “a good friend and an excellent mentor.” “When Renee became chair of Women of Vision, I joined its board,” she says.
Penni was so impressed by the commitment of the foundation’s 470 members and the enormous impact that their grants have had on the lives of women and girls that she has agreed to take on the role of chair. Over the summer, she worked on establishing goals and objectives to grow the membership and encourage existing members to become more involved in advocacy and the grant-making process.
Penni, who is also a member of Federation’s Campaign Cabinet and Board of Trustees, wants Women of Vision to work more closely with Federation and Women’s Philanthropy to maximize its impact on the lives of women and girls in Greater Philadelphia and in Israel. While she acknowledges the tremendous growth of the foundation’s grant-making abilities — from $16,000 in 1994 to $78,000 in 2013-2014 — she knows that Women of Vision can and must do more.
She also knows that endowed giving is the best way to ensure that the causes that she and Mark care so deeply about will continue to be supported beyond their lifetimes. “Mark — my high-school sweetheart — and I have enjoyed many blessings in our lifetime,” she explains. Chief among these blessings are the couple’s two daughters and sons-in-law: Lisa, who like her mom, is a psychologist doing autism research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and her husband, Matt, a physics professor at the University of Delaware; and Sharon, the Philadelphia regional director of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and her husband, Mark, a lawyer at JP Morgan Chase; and their four grandchildren, Maya, Lauren, Logan and Eliza.
“Through my work, I am acutely aware that there are many people in this world who are in need and at risk,” she says, hopeful that the couple’s legacy gift will help people for generations to come.
Through their philanthropy, Penni feels that she and Mark are sending a powerful message to their children and grandchildren that” it is incumbent for all of us to do all that we can to make our world a better place.”