Community Foundation’s Ginsberg earns chamber’s highest honor



NEW HAVEN — One of the nation’s oldest business groups held a party last month to fete an old friend.

The 217-year-old Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce held its 2011 Annual Awards Luncheon October 13 at the Omni-New Haven Hotel. The event, which drew some 600 to the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, exists to honor chamber members for achievements in small business, manufacturing, the non-profit sector and the like.

But its flagship is the Community Leadership Award, which since the 1960s has confirmed community-pillar status on a couple of scores of Elm City grandees. Like Republican nominees for President, the naming of Community Leadership Award-winners each year causes few heart attacks (it is difficult to imagine a troublemaker such as Steve Jobs receiving an award from the New Haven chamber), the 2011 honor likewise was conferred on an individual whose worthiness few would debate.

William W. Ginsberg has been president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven since 2000. With some $320 million in assets, the foundation is the largest charitable organization in south-central Connecticut, placing the 56-year-old Ginsberg in a position to do much good. In that role he has seldom disappointed.

Beyond that, his New Haven roots run deep. Just four years out of Columbia Law School, Ginsberg was lured from the world of New York corporate law to the rough-and-tumble of New Haven politics, joining the administration of then-Mayor Biagio DiLieto as development administrator. He remained at City Hall for four years before being tapped to head the Science Park Development Corp., a non-profit technology incubator, for six years before heading to Washington in 1994 to join the Clinton administration.

In accepting the award, Ginsberg noted that communities such as New Haven ought to measure prosperity by “How we take care of our needy.” The strength of the community, he added, is a function of “people being connected — and by this measure New Haven is an unusually strong community.”

In the 27 years since he arrived in the Elm City, Ginsberg said, “New Haven has emerged as an urban success story.”

But not all the bon mots at the luncheon were Ginsberg’s alone. Said Allison Schieffelin, CEO of the West Haven-based Lighting Quotient, which earned an award for Achievement in Manufacturing, “Manufacturing in New Haven, despite the rumors, is not dead.”

Observed Francis McCarthy, whose Marrakech Inc. was cited for Leadership in health Care & Non-Profit Partnership, “The non-profit community in New Haven would not exist without the for-profit community.”

And finally this from Michael Iannuzzi, whose Tyco Printing earned honors for Small-Business Achievement: “Our work ethic is the foundation of our achievement.”