A Combined Passion for Philanthropy

By Mary McInerney, Office of Development Communications Posted Mon, 08/17/2015 - 16:29

Alex Rosenblatt ’00 mentions the “mitzvah,” a good deed done, when he talks about giving to USF and the philosophy of philanthropy that he and his wife, Kelly Jane Rosenblatt ’01, share.

“We believe that you have to go to the world. The world can’t come to you. You have to go to the world and make it a better place,” he says. “You have to take the risks.”

Alex is 38 and a wealth management executive in San Francisco, and Kelly Jane, 36, just earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Oregon.

They met at USF, when he was a senior and she was a junior, introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Their first kiss? On Lone Mountain.

Today, they have two daughters, ages 1 and 3, and they have the kind of relationship in which she straightens his tie (twice), and they finish each other’s sentences. Really. He apologizes for interrupting but goes on to explain what a remarkable person his wife is.

“Kelly Jane is really special,” he says. “She was homeschooled, K-8, in Grass Valley by her mother and was valedictorian of her high school. She was a University Scholar at USF.”

During her first semester at USF, though, things changed for Kelly Jane. Her father was incarcerated, just weeks after she started college. Kelly Jane, the recipient of multiple scholarships, saw her grades plummet.

Kelly Jane says she received incredible support from all of her professors. She changed majors from biochemistry to English, and thrived at USF, graduating cum laude. Today, she is grateful, not just for the education she received here but for the emotional support.

“I think a lot of alumni don’t realize how unique this university is. Having professors who knew me, who knew my face, was so important,” she says. “I mean, I had to tell my chemistry professor what happened to my dad three days before my first final. You’re not faceless here.”

A Strong Connection

Over the past 15 years, the couple has kept those personal USF connections alive by staying in touch with several of their professors, and they often attend university events. Alex, who graduated cum laude with a business administration degree, receives postcards each month from one of his favorite professors, Paul Lorton, of the School of Management. Kelly Jane was asked to speak at the retirement of one of her favorite teachers.

The Rosenblatts’ strong connection to the university is reflected in their commitment to giving. The year Alex graduated, he made his first gift to USF, and they have continued giving every year since. Now that they are more established with careers and a family, the arc of their philanthropy has grown.

Three years ago, the Rosenblatts set up a scholarship in their names for a deserving student, who might not otherwise have the funds to complete a degree. That scholarship benefitted several students, and the Rosenblatts are now making their scholarship’s support permanent by endowing it so that it will exist in perpetuity.

The young couple has included USF in their estate plan, too, making them members of the Fr. John Lo Schiavo Legacy Society, which honors alumni, parents, and friends who have included USF in their estate plans.

As a young couple with a family in the Bay Area, the Rosenblatts say they include philanthropy in their budget. “Really early on, we determined that giving was important to us,” says Kelly Jane. “We budget it first. Giving is a much bigger priority for us, so we give now to the largest capacity that we can.”

Commitment to Education

Alex, who grew up in San Francisco and attended private school, comes from a family with a strong history of philanthropy. His mother, Mary, was former chief development officer for the San Francisco Opera and former executive director of the Osher Foundation. He credits her and his stepfather, Patric Powell, with setting a strong example for giving back.

Philanthropists Bernard and Barbro Osher, also USF donors, are family friends of the Rosenblatts, and they too helped inspire Alex’s philanthropy and commitment to giving back, as did Gina and Kevin Carr. Today, Alex is on the board of San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, and Kelly Jane is on the board of the Prison University Project and serves as a volunteer faculty member. But education is their main commitment. They give so that deserving students can have the same experience they had at USF.

“If we can really change the world and do good things at that level,” he says, “that would make us even happier than we are today.”

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This gift was made in support of Changing the World from Here: Campaign for the University of San Francisco.