Marsha Cowan

Outstanding Professional Fundraiser - Marsha Cowan

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Marsha Cowan “represents the values and personal commitment that make Winnipeg a special place to live”. Known as an innovator and champion of endowment funding, Cowan has shown her commitment to the community through fundraising both as a volunteer and as CEO of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. Cowan may be most well known for her work with the foundation in launching the Women’s Endowment Fund which has awarded thousands of dollars to 80 different organizations in Manitoba across a variety of causes such as helping survivors of abuse, care for the elderly and supporting emerging artists. She also managed the exponential growth of bequest commitments through the Endowment Book of Life program

Marsha Cowan was born and raised in Winnipeg’s north end. She taught Junior High School for five years and then focused on family and supporting her husband in the family business. Her dedication to community began very early in her teens and her commitment has never wavered. She has held numerous senior positions both within the Jewish community and in the broader community as a dedicated, accomplished and well-respected volunteer, fundraiser and leader. 

Cowan’s history of leadership and fundraising spans 50 years, 37 of which were in a voluntary capacity. From 1980-1982, Cowan was the president of Jewish Child and Family Service and in 1982 became the vice-president of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (now Jewish Federation of Winnipeg). From then on Marsha spent time serving many more organizations and initiatives including the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre, United Way of Winnipeg, Board of Governors of Balmoral Hall School, Women’s Campaign for the Combined Jewish Appeal, Women of Winnipeg, President of The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and Board of Regents of the University of Winnipeg.

In March of 2005 Cowan assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba after years of volunteer service to the organization, including four years as their first female president. During her tenure as CEO, Cowan was instrumental in more than doubling the Foundation’s assets to over $100 million. In 2017, she made the decision to step down from her leadership role with the Foundation and currently acts as a Strategic Development Specialist allowing her to focus on working with donors. 

Cowan’s numerous and varied positions of leadership have given her an insight and perception as to the broader issues. She constantly uses this experience as an influence for the betterment of community. “Marsha has been a volunteer and leader all of her life and she represents the values and personal commitment that make Winnipeg a special place to live.”

Marsha Cowan was nominated for the Outstanding Professional Fundraiser Award by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.
Buy tickets to watch Marsha Cowan receive a Manitoba Philanthropy Award.