YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Foundation is a group that doesn’t get as much credit for the work it does, which means the woman in charge doesn’t get the credit she deserves either.
That woman is Jan Strasfeld, who recently announced her retirement. She will leave behind a legacy of giving and charitable work that will benefit the community for generations.
After running the organization for 14 years, was the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre the crown jewel of her tenure?
“I think it’s one of several. We’ve done some good things in the last several years,” she said.
And indeed they have. Four years ago, Strasfeld spoke at East High School’s graduation and awarded 70 students the first Y-Star Scholarships, funded by the Youngstown Foundation.
“We were really concerned about the kids and we wanted to make sure that the kids knew that we cared about them and we needed them to continue their post-secondary education and to stay in the community,” she said.
Then two years ago, Strasfeld again took to the podium and announced the Youngstown Foundation’s new “support fund,” where the organization matches donations to non-profit groups plus 10%.
“So that we’re helping 80 plus local organizations daily and raising a couple million dollars a year for them,” she said.
Strasfeld and the Youngstown Foundation were also instrumental in guiding Michael Kusalaba’s endowment toward building a new west side library.
In fact, Strasfeld has accomplished so much that it prompted Jim Cossler of the Youngstown Business Incubator to post on social media, “When the renaissance of Youngstown is written, no one played a more important role than Jan Strasfeld. She had the vision. She had the perseverance. And we are all so much better for it.”
When Strasfeld started, the Foundation had $65 million. Today, it has $127 million. So, why resign and retire?
“I really took it to a different level from where it had been and I think it’s probably time for someone else to take it to the next level, and I want to play with my grandchildren,” she said.
The Youngstown Foundation is advertising for the position of executive director. Strasfeld will stay on until at least the end of the year.