Jenny Belzberg’s philanthropic work resonates throughout Calgary and beyond. Born in 1928, the lifelong Calgarian has been an agent of change, a mentor and a faithful volunteer. Her leadership abilities have brought success and credibility to a variety of community efforts in the realm of social action and the arts, and enhanced the quality of life for many.
Jenny’s initial volunteer work began with local Jewish groups that supported women and families. With organizations such as Beth Israel Sisterhood, Calgary Jewish Community Council, Israel Bonds, Jewish National Fund and the National Council of Jewish Women, she engaged in a range of activities from chairing a review committee for Jewish day schools to honouring Holocaust survivors. With her growing experience and leadership training, her responsibilities expanded. She quickly emerged as a natural leader and rose to executive level positions on both national and international fronts.
Throughout Jenny Belzberg’s far reaching networks, her work could often be linked to her home town. She added civic duties to her list of volunteer activities, including projects with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and Calgary’s City Hall restoration, and served a four-year appointment with the Judicial Council for Provincial Court judges.
As a proponent of community participation she has had many opportunities to see her ideas take flight. She was the founder of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Gala, and raised significant funds through a joint benefit for the Banff Centre and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the late 1980s, her volunteer career gradually shifted into other areas of passion. Believing art and culture feed the soul, she showed her creativity, leadership and fundraising skills, with many organizations serving the arts community.
While chairing the Banff Centre Board of Governors for four years and serving on the board for seven, Jenny Belzberg was a part of the Banff Centre’s move into the high-tech industry. A scholarship at the institution and the Honourary Alumni list both bear her name. She also served for 14 years on the board of the Calgary Philharmonic Society, playing a key role in preserving the orchestra. Mrs. Belzberg is a founding member, and served as board chair, of the Esther Honens Calgary International Piano Competition.
Another organization for which Jenny Belzberg was a founder and first chair is the Calgary Arts Partnership in Education Society, a member of a national program originating with the Royal Conservatory of Music. Also known as CAPES, this organization works with artists and teachers to apply the concept of “Learning through the Arts” to regular school curriculum and has been incorporated by more than 60 Calgary schools.
Mrs. Belzberg’s support for higher learning also extends to longstanding support for post-secondary institutions. She has been a fundraiser for Mount Royal College Conservatory and sits on the Dean’s advisory committee for the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work.
A dedicated volunteer, Jenny Belzberg was a member of a national advisory committee for the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy. On behalf of the National Society of Fundraising Executives, she chaired Calgary’s National Philanthropy Day. She is also an honourary chair for Leadership Calgary, and has shared her expertise with the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. In August 2000, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the National Arts Centre.
Mrs. Belzberg has been recognized for her lifelong commitments in a variety of ways. Jenny Belzberg and her husband were honoured in 1992 by the Jewish National Fund for their various contributions. In 1997, she received a medal from Her Majesty the Queen on the 25th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, and a Paul Harris Fellow medal from the Rotary Foundation of the City of Calgary Rotary International.
Jenny Belzberg was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1997.