An Ominous Pause at the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation After Its President's Death

It is difficult for any organization to carry on after its leader passes away, and the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation is no exception. Rhonda “Ronny” Zinner was the the eldest daughter of Carl and Ruth Shapiro, and she served as the foundation president for many years. After battling cancer for the past few years, Zinner passed away on March 18th in Boston at the age of 70. She is survived by her father, Carl Shapiro, who said, “Ronny was the Foundation. She was dedicated to helping as many people as she could and when she took over day-to-day, I told her, ‘do what you think best.’ And she did. She was all a father could ask for.” (Read Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation: Boston Area Grants).

Zinner is credited for building upon her parents' philanthropic legacy and bringing a fresh perspective on impacting the lives of Boston residents. Without the support of a full staff of program officers and grant managers, she developed new grantmaking strategies at the individual and community levels. During her time as president, the foundation awarded over $10 million Boston-based organizations.

Future funding for dozens of organizations that previously received funds from the Shapiro Family Foundation is now uncertain. Last fall, the foundation notified 55 prior grant recipients in three initiative areas that it would “pause” funding. “This decision was made, in part, to allow the family time to consider how to continue gift giving in the future in a way that reflected the thoughts and priorities of the next generation of the Shapiro family,” foundation spokeswoman Diana C. Pisciotta said. “Though the foundation’s future approach is still being discussed by the family, we expect that we will continue to play an important role in supporting the institutions and nonprofits that are critical to this region.”

None of that sounds particularly reassuring for current grantees. 

While the Board of Trustees reassess its grantmaking strategies, the Shapiro Family Foundation is not accepting any inquiries about prospective funding. However, general questions can still be directed to info@shapirofamilyfdn.org. Our thoughts are with Ms. Zinner's family and friends during this difficult time.