Rochester Area Community Foundation honored Kathy Nixon, of Penfield, with its highest philanthropic honor — the Joe U. Posner Founders Award — at its annual Report to the Community Luncheon on Sept. 20.
Nixon, a former Community Foundation board chair and retired executive director of the former Rundel Library Foundation, is a supporter of endowment, which is the focus of what the Community Foundation is about.
After the sale of a local radio station in which her husband, Ted, was a partner in 1987, the Nixons made a donation to the foundation’s Early Childhood Education Fund and recruited others to give, allowing the foundation to receive a $500,000 challenge grant from the Ford Foundation to support efforts to bolster early childhood here. The fund has made nearly $1 million in grants to help the community’s youngest citizens.
At Kathy’s urging, she and Ted have intentionally focused much of their giving on supporting women and children in various ways — again, keeping the dollars local.
Inspired by a Fresh Air Fund child they hosted through adulthood, the Nixons established the Fund for Self-Esteem at the Community Foundation to support projects that increase an individual’s self-worth. Grants primarily support the Empire Justice Center’s CASH program to help low-income individuals complete their income tax forms and learn how best to use their refunds.
Kathy served on the Community Foundation board for eight years, plus a two-year stint as board chair before retiring in 2016. But she has stayed connected by joining the foundation’s Advisory Council of friends and former board members and co-spearheading the annual Community Sponsors campaign. She has contributed annually to support the LGBT, African-American and women’s giving circles. Kathy and Ted also are members of the foundation’s Legacy Society.
Kathy also volunteers in various ways in the community.
Every week she helps out in the classroom of a teacher at Rochester’s School 2. Earlier, she was active with the AAUW’s Women Helping Girls program and was paired with a 12-year-old, who is now 29 years old and a mom. They remain in contact and this former mentee brings her daughter to play with Kathy’s youngest granddaughter. Kathy also serves on the Advisory Board of Teen Empowerment.
Kathy’s belief in giving back is something she promotes with her two adult children, their spouses and seven grandchildren. Each is given an amount annually to contribute to a cause or organization they care about. In recent years, the grandchildren have asked that their donations support the Urban-Suburban Interdistrict Transfer program, Foodlink, Water for South Sudan and to purchase musical instruments for students who might not be able to afford them.
“It is really fun and exciting to give and it has been neat to get the kids involved in giving, too,” said Kathy.