(Sondra D. Bender Community Leadership Honoree)
by Susan Josephs
When Lynn Morgan worked for the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, she learned a valuable lesson about community leadership. Tasked with convincing companies booking conferences at the famous hotel to purchase “a deli lunch that was $50 a person, I learned that if you really believe in your product, then the work isn’t hard or scary,” she says.
Today, the 48-year-old Potomac, Md.-based activist and philanthropist is “never afraid to solicit for organizations that I personally support.” Tirelessly devoted to Jewish continuity and strengthening her community, Morgan has served in multiple leadership roles for a number of local institutions including the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS), The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she recently served as Vice President of Women’s Philanthropy, and the Washington D.C. chapters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the youth movement BBYO. An expert fundraiser, she also has a gift for creating community-building events such as CESJDS’ “Celebrity Scoop Night,” now in its ninth year, where the school’s teachers have raised thousands of dollars from selling ice cream at a local Baskin-Robbins.
“I love getting people involved at the grassroots level because I believe you can have the greatest impact from participating locally.”
“I love getting people involved at the grassroots level because I believe that you can have the greatest impact on an organization from participating locally,” observes Morgan, who’s the 2015 recipient of JWI’s Sondra D. Bender Community Leadership Award.
Currently, Morgan juggles her responsibilities as co-owner of Morgan Language Services, a firm specializing in translation work, with serving as an event chair for CESJDS and board member of her local Federation and BBYO council. She and her husband Randy Morgan, whom she calls her “greatest cheerleader,” also belong to AIPAC’s Congressional Club so they can “directly back political candidates that support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship” and serve as synagogue outreach chairs for AIPAC’s Washington, D.C. council. Always, “I want to feel I’m doing something for my children’s future and to ensure that the Jewish people will continue to thrive,” she says of all her endeavors, which have included participating in Federation missions to Israel, Berlin and Cuba “to see our dollars at work.”
Born in Florida and raised in Purchase, N.Y., Morgan celebrated her bat mitzvah on top of Masada, participated in the youth groups USY and NFTY and found philanthropic role models in her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother, all of whom played active roles in their local Jewish Federations. “I have many memories of women sitting around our dining room table discussing how to help other people,” she says of the meetings her mother organized.
Determined to succeed in the hotel industry, Morgan worked multiple service jobs in high school and received a degree in hotel administration from Cornell University. She then led a decade-long career in hotel sales and management, including a stint at the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. “What I learned in this world translates so well to my volunteer work,” she says of her desire “to please others and exceed expectations.”
The mother of Natalie, 16, Daniel, 14, and Kate, 10, Morgan feels gratified that her children participate in volunteer events such as CESJDS’ “Families in Action Day,” continuing a strong tradition of giving and volunteerism that they have inherited from both sides of the family. Morgan hopes that she has been a good role model for how her kids can behave as adults. “Volunteering helps me feel that I’m making the world a better place,” she says. “And now my kids are old enough to have opportunities where they can step up to the plate.”