Influential Marylander

 Rachel Garbow Monroe
Rachel Garbow Monroe

Rachel Garbow Monroe has been repeatedly named one of the most influential women in Maryland and in the philanthropic world by the Baltimore Sun Magazine, Forward and The Daily Record.

In her role as president and CEO of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, she oversees a staff of more than 30 who are responsible for managing roughly $100 million in grants awarded to more than 300 organizations each year.

“Working at the foundation combines my commitment to the Jewish community and to social justice more broadly stated, my academic background at Northwestern and Kellogg School of Business and my professional experience in both the public and private sectors,” Monroe said via email.

She first began at Weinberg as its chief operating officer in 2005 and was named its top executive five years later.

During her tenure, she has launched new initiatives, including the Weinberg Foundation Annual Community Gathering, the Israel Mission Alumni Scholars Program, the Annual Employee Giving Program and the Maryland Small Grants Program.

Monroe is particularly proud of the foundation’s commitment to Holocaust survivors, having distributed more than $24 million to 62 organizations serving Holocaust survivors over the past two decades, and to childhood literacy through the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project (Weinberg Library Project), for which the foundation committed $10 million in funding for up to 24 new public school libraries in Baltimore. She noted that more than 30 government, nonprofit and community partners support the effort that began in 2011.

In addition to her work at Weinberg, Monroe serves as co-chair of Baltimore’s Promise, “a citywide partnership of public, business, higher education, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders that serves as a catalyst for organizing efforts and resources around a shared community vision that all Baltimore City youth will travel a safe, healthy and successful educational path from cradle to career,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

“Given the events of the past month, this work is even more timely and important,” Monroe said, referencing the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody and the riots and protests that followed. “The Weinberg Foundation is proud to be one of many partners at the table working on this agenda for our city.”

Monroe also serves as chair of the Jewish Leadership Pipelines Alliance, a new coalition of nonprofits and foundations that is seeking to ready the next generation of senior leadership. Within the next five to seven years, the coalition estimates tremendous turnover in Jewish nonprofit leadership.

A strong CEO, Monroe explained, is one of the best indicators of an organization’s projected success.

“If the board and the senior staff are strong, then the organization is strong,” she said. “We need to  ensure that the next generation” is prepared.

Throughout her career, which includes time at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, Monroe described great camaraderie with her colleagues.

“I have had the opportunity to work with, listen to and learn from a large number of incredible women and men in Baltimore, the U.S. and Israel. The field of philanthropy includes many dedicated professionals, some of whom are close colleagues and friends as well as thought partners,” said Monroe.

She names her parents, Mel and Dene Garbow, who still reside in her hometown of Alexandria, Va., as inspirations for her Jewish and philanthropic career path.

“I was raised by parents who were deeply committed to the Jewish community and Israel and to social justice for our country and community,” said Monroe.

It was her parents who brought her to Israel for her first visit at age 5 and she has been back “dozens of times” since.

Monroe is married to Joel Monroe, and together they have three teenage children. They belong to Beth El Congregation and recently celebrated the bar mitzvah of their youngest son.

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