Celebrating Our Founders

How Libby and Jack Deinhardt Launched the Community Foundation of Broward

March 14, 2024
Community Foundation Founders Libby and Jack Deinhardt.

Something was missing from the community that Libby and Jack Deinhardt adopted as their home.

When they moved to Fort Lauderdale from Columbus, Ohio in 1979, Libby and Jack were surprised to learn that Broward County didn’t have a community foundation to champion local philanthropy.

As longtime supporters of The Columbus Foundation – where Libby once worked as grants administrator – they had seen firsthand how a community foundation could attract and grow much-needed, hometown philanthropic support.

  • Community foundations across the country brought together generous residents to support struggling families, the arts, education, seniors and a host of other local needs.
  • Community foundations were trusted to carefully invest and grow philanthropists’ gifts, directing grants that enabled their local impact to continue for generations.
  • Through the power of endowment, a community foundation’s unifying leadership would always be there to identify emerging needs, grow philanthropic support and forge collaborations to shape a brighter future.

Libby and Jack decided Broward needed a local philanthropy champion of its own.

Many of the charitably minded people they had gotten to know since moving to Broward also came from somewhere else and that’s where many still did their giving. Libby and Jack wanted to change that. They knew the community they now called home needed more support. They believed people should give where they live. So, Libby and Jack started sharing the community foundation concept with their friends and local leaders.

In 1984, Libby and Jack formed a small group of volunteers to launch what would become the Community Foundation of Broward. The visionary team included Frank Brogan, who donated legal work, and Jim Blosser, who became president of the first Board of directors. Libby volunteered to serve as the community foundation’s first executive director, working out of office space donated by Jack’s real estate development firm.

As the face of the new Community Foundation, Libby had to overcome a fear of public speaking – as well as a hesitancy to ask for donations – to start building support for her fledgling organization. Yet even at the beginning, Libby wasn’t shy about sharing her bold vision for what the Community Foundation could become.

“The time will come when a person of means will be embarrassed to die without leaving a gift to his community through a bequest to his community foundation,” Libby told the Fort Lauderdale News/Sun Sentinel in 1985. “To do this is to achieve a kind of immortality.”

Libby led the Community Foundation as volunteer executive director for nine years. During her tenure, she guided a community-wide information campaign to spread the word about the need to support the new Community Foundation, where she and Jack were among the first donors. She helped the Community Foundation lead the way on tackling tough issues, such as HIV/AIDS prevention education. And, when she stepped down in 1993, the fledgling Community Foundation that initially produced $7,000 in annual grants had grown into a trusted local leader producing $1.7 million in annual support in Broward.

“Much has happened to make this gratifying growth take place. Most important has been the wonderful support of the good citizens of Broward County,” Libby wrote in the Foundation’s 1993 Annual Report. “They have embraced the concept of a community foundation ... a first-class organization ready and able to serve the people of Broward County.”

When Libby died in 2001, Jack carried on their deep commitment to helping the Community Foundation grow. Jack served as one of the Foundation’s early Board members and for decades he remained an outspoken supporter for the Foundation. He helped attract more people to partner with the Community Foundation for their local philanthropy.

“Libby and I always believed in the importance of bringing people together to tackle issues as one community,” Jack Deinhardt said in the Community Foundation’s 2011 Annual Report.

Thanks to Libby and Jack’s foresight and commitment, the Community Foundation has become a trusted force for good in Broward. As they envisioned, we partner with generous individuals, families and organizations to create charitable funds that support opportunities to transform lives and enrich our community. Thanks to those partnerships, we now have more than 530 charitable funds, which in 2023 produced a record $19 million in annual grants to support opportunities to transform lives and shape a brighter future.

Since Libby and Jack got us started in 1984, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $175 million in grants that make life better in Broward. Together with our Fundholders, we provide community leadership, foster bold philanthropy and grow endowed resources able to tackle Broward’s biggest challenges — today and forever – just like Libby and Jack wanted.

Libby and Jack’s Enduring Impact

Libby and Jack have never stopped giving back to the community they love. Here are two ways that the Community Foundation is honored to carry on Libby and Jack’s legacy of bold impact for Broward:

Community Builders: In addition to founding the Community Foundation, Libby and Jack are among our “Community Builders” – philanthropists who create endowed charitable funds of $1 million or more to ensure permanent support for the community. We shepherd and grow Libby and Jack’s endowed support, which will always be there to respond to the changing needs of the community they loved. Through the years, Community Foundation grants made possible by their endowed funds have supported affordable housing, children in need, career readiness programs, cancer patients and so much more. Because Libby and Jack believed in endowed giving, their support for Broward will never end.

Deinhardt Society: Named in honor of Libby and Jack, the Deinhardt Society carries on their commitment to local philanthropy by building financial support for the mission and operations of the Community Foundation. Gifts from Deinhardt Society supporters fuel our work to identify emerging issues, engage and connect civic leaders, strengthen nonprofits and support solutions to big community challenges.

Jack's History Lesson: 2013 Video Features Jack Sharing How the Community Foundation Began

Community Foundation Co-Founder Libby Deinhardt; Ed Holbrook, former Vice President of the Holy Cross Hospital Foundation; and Jim Blosser in 1986 celebrate the creation of a new charitable fund at the Community Foundation.
At one of the first organizational meetings for what would become the Community Foundation of Broward, founders Libby Deinhardt (far right) and Jack Deinhardt (second from left) share their vision for championing local philanthropy.
Learn More

To find out how you can create a BOLD impact by partnering with the Community Foundation for your philanthropy, contact Vice President Kelly Marmol at kmarmol@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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