Natalie Epstein Receives Gries Award for Community Leadership

January 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Press Releases | Leave a comment
Natalie Epstein

Natalie Epstein

Natalie Epstein, of Pepper Pike, is the recipient of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s 2009 Gries Family Award for Community Leadership recognizing exemplary individuals who, through top leadership positions, make a lasting impact on organizations within the Jewish and general communities.  She was honored at the October 30 Jewish Community Federation Board of Trustees meeting.

“When you want to find someone to start something new, lead an organization or raise money, look for Natalie,” said Sally and Stanley Wertheim in their nomination of Natalie.

At the Federation, Natalie co-chaired the Leadership Symposium and served on the board of trustees, as a member of the Endowment, Human Resources Development and Overseas Connections Committees, on the Foundation Advisory Council, and in the Women’s Division.  She was a vice president of The Temple-Tifereth Israel and served on the boards of the Jewish Family Service Association (JFSA) and The Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland (The Mandel JCC).

In the Cleveland Arts Community, Natalie has been a driving force and change agent for over 30 years.  She was the founding president of the Friends of the Eldred Theater, and as president of the Great Lakes Theater Festival initiated its relocation to Playhouse Square.  Natalie also serves on the boards of the Cleveland Play House and the Cleveland School of the Arts, and was a member of the board of the Cleveland Area Arts Council.  Natalie says, “It is through theater that we have the opportunity of experiencing a variety of cultures, philosophies, human endeavors, morals and ethical dilemmas; we are privileged to examine worlds not common to us.  For a few moments, we are given insight into the ethnic, racial, religious, social or sexual elements that often divide us, and, for a few moments we are one community.”

Natalie’s leadership in diverse organizations throughout the Jewish and general communities leaves a permanent legacy.  She co-chaired a major capital campaign for the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and served as a member of the college’s visiting committee.  Natalie has chaired benefits and fundraisers for the Arthritis Foundation, United Way’s Community Information Volunteer Action Center (CIVAC) and Hawken School.

Recognizing Natalie’s stellar contributions, the Cleveland State University Foundation named her an outstanding community leader, and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival calls her one of the driving forces behind the move to the Hanna Theatre.  Natalie was also inducted into the Cleveland Heights High School Hall of Fame.

The Gries family was one of the first Jewish families to settle in Cleveland.  The Gries Family Award includes donations to two charitable causes – one in the Jewish community and one in the general community.  Natalie designated gifts to The Temple-Tifereth Israel and to the Great Lakes Theater Festival.


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