Monday Morning Meet Your Leaders – Jodi Grinwald

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Jodi Grinwald
Co-founder and CEO
Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation

1. What is one of the most important qualities of a great leader?

It is hard for me to choose just one quality. I truly believe great leaders need to have clarity of vision, a contagious passion for their work, and a willingness to listen and learn from others. That might mean there are times when a leader must be able to follow.

2. How does your organization take our community to the next level?

Our Foundation levels the playing field for children with financial barriers by funding lessons in dance, acting, instrumental music, and vocal instruction. We provide 100% funding for kids who meet the financially eligibility for the entire school year and/or a summer program at a performing arts studio close to the child’s home where they take weekly lessons. Our goal is to provide an ongoing and sustainable experience for these children.

Many of the children currently receiving scholarships have been through tremendous hardships.  These lessons provide them with an extended family when they may have experienced a tragic loss, an opportunity for creative expression, and a constant they can rely on each week. One child in our program stated that, “the performing arts makes her heart soar,” and another has shared, “that dancing and singing makes her inner spirit come out and play.” We work with schools and other organizations in the community like Ocean Partnership, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ocean County and Ocean’s Harbor House to identify kids who may need our services the most.  Although, families reach out to us to fund their child’s performing arts lessons, what is provided to them is so much more then just learning how to read music or play an instrument.

We are also a ‘kids helping kids’ organization and provide children who audition for our Performance Group the opportunity to perform at different for-profit and non-profit events, ultimately teaching them the importance of community service while doing something they love. Hence, leveling the playing field because music and creative expression should have no barriers.

3. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, and I do not have a lot of it, I love watching my youngest daughter and niece perform and skyping with my oldest daughter who is currently working on a feature film through a college program in Nantucket. On the rare occasions I can, I love to dance and read a good book.

4. What is your favorite food/recipe and why?

Another tough question because I love food too much! My favorite dish is any pasta related dish because pasta is my go-to comfort food. My favorite recipe to make is cookie dough truffles. Yes, it is edible cookie dough covered in melted chocolate. It is an all time crowd pleaser for adults and kids alike.

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