S.F. native moves up the ladder to head Koret staff

For the first time, a woman will head the professional staff of the S.F.-based Koret Foundation.

With the new title director of grants, San Francisco native Sandra Edwards, known as Sandy, replaces the acting director, Mel Mogulof.

Edwards "will be responsible for supervising all personnel and activities relating to evaluation and distribution of grants," said Tad Taube, president of the board of directors. "She will do an outstanding job for the foundation and for the communities we serve, and we are pleased to be able to promote her from within our staff."

A search is under way for a newly created position, director of financial administration, to handle the fiscal responsibilities.

Edwards, 51, has been with the foundation for 15 years. She started as a program officer, then became a senior program officer, and then deputy director of programs.

With a doctorate in education, Edwards spent the early years of her career in that field. When she returned to San Francisco, she did some grant writing, which led her to her first professional contact with the Jewish community. For two years, she worked as a program officer for the American Jewish Committee.

She has also served on the board of Brandeis Hillel Day School and currently is president of Conservative Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco..

"I've been a member there since birth," she said. "My grandfather joined in 1937, when he came from Germany, and I'm third generation there. My son is fourth. I have deep roots there."

In her new position, Edwards said, "I hope to work with the board of directors in sustaining the Koret Foundation's leadership in supporting innovative ideas that yield results focused on strengthening and enriching the Jewish community and Bay Area community, as well as improving and expanding educational opportunities."

Furthermore, she added, "We will continue to be proactive in pursuing new ideas, while at the same time maintain a responsiveness to community needs."

With assets of more than $300 million, the Koret Foundation awarded $20 million last year. Soon approaching its 25th anniversary, Koret is among the largest Jewish charitable trusts in California, supporting projects within the Jewish community as well as such Bay Area institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony.

The foundation also gives heavily in Israel. Through its Koret Israel Economic Development Fund, it has distributed nearly $41 million in grants and loans to small businesses, making it a prime financial assistance program for small businesses in the Jewish state.

Though Edwards is now "thinking about how I want to put my own stamp on things," she stressed that she does not make the decisions as to which organizations or causes will receive grants but instead makes recommendations to the board.

"What I'm hired to do is carry out the board's vision," she said. "I hope to be a great support to them as they continue to move the foundation forward."

Through its work, she added, Koret "represents the Jewish community in the larger community as supporters of important issues and projects. I really enjoy working with the people in those communities and I think we have a lot of impact."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."