ECF Salutes Sara Schastok

Evanston CF


Surprise Tribute for President & CEO Held July 9 at the Evanston Art Center

Approximately 250 guests attended the Salute to Sara celebration to honor Sara Schastok’s legacy as Evanston Community Foundation’s (ECF) first President and CEO on Thursday, July 9 at the Evanston Art Center’s new location at1717 Central Street, Evanston. ECF supporters enthusiastically thanked Schastok for her 15 years of service and accomplishments on behalf of the community of Evanston. Guests enjoyed appetizers from Curt’s Cafe and wine from Vinic Wine Company.

Event co-chairs were Judy Kemp, Judy Aiello-Fantus and Eleanor Revelle. Former ECF board chair Judy Kemp said, “Sara has been a passionate advocate for the Evanston community and a remarkable first leader for the Foundation. She has provided a listening ear and wise counsel to nonprofits and community leaders seeking to increase capacity and develop partnerships for the common good.  It’s impossible to do justice to someone who has given so much to ECF and the community-but we hope by bringing together people who have worked closely with Sara over the years, she might glimpse the depth and breadth of her legacy. ”

Party PictureIn true surprise-party fashion, Schastok was kept in the dark about the event details. The program was emceed by former board chair Kendal Gladish (Austin, TX). A video tribute compiled by Schastok’s close associates and friends saluted her achievements and wished her well in her new ventures. Special guest Julianne Buck, president of the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations presented Schastok with six gifts representing community foundation regions around the state. Current board chair Mike Brody presented Schastok with a gift from the board of directors acknowledging Schastok’s early career as a professor of Asian art-an original artwork by Evanston-based Artist Indira Johnson.

A highlight of the evening was the announcement of the newly established Sara Schastok Fund, an endowed fund created to build permanent assets to address Evanston’s ever-changing needs. Board vice chair Diana Cohen said ECF supporters have pledged over $1 million to date in cash gifts and valuation of will provisions for legacy gifts to the fund in Schastok’s honor.

The ECF board’s search for Schastok’s replacement is underway. Schastok advised of her intent to retire by the end of 2015, and intends to work with the board and staff to provide for a smooth transition. Upon her retirement,Schastok will serve ECF in the new role of Senior Philanthropic Advisor.

Schastok joined the Foundation as its first full-time employee and first executive director in February 2001, and was charged with separating ECF from Evanston United Way, building assets to sustain independent operations, and building the Foundation’s visibility. Having grown ECF assets from $2.4 million in early 2001 to over $9 million, she was named President and CEO in 2008. ECF’s assets today exceed $20 million.

Sara served on the leadership team for the Grand Victoria Foundation’s Communityworks Initiative and the Evanston Cradle to Career planning committee as well as the steering committees for Evanston150, Illinois Early Childhood Fellowship, and the Pioneering Healthy Communities Intiative. She now serves on the community advisory committees of St. Francis Hospital and the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern. She was named Community Leader of the Year by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce in 2011.