Bugdanowitz, philanthropist, CEO, dies at 72
Sheila Bugdanowitz, president and chief executive officer of Rose Community Foundation, died unexpectedly Sunday. She was 72.
A Denver native, Bugdanowitz graduated from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in education. She stewarded the Rose Community Foundation since 1998.
Founded in 1995, the foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in the seven-county Denver area. The nonprofit foundation, which has about $200 million of assets, has granted more than $81 million since its inception.
Bugdanowitz directed the foundation’s development, grant making, financial management and marketing functions, reflecting the leadership of the board of trustees.
“She embodied the foundation’s values of philanthropy, justice and nondiscrimination and its mission to make the greater Denver community a better place,” said Jerry Glick, chairman of the board of trustees, in a written statement. “Her leadership shaped what Rose Community Foundation is today.”
Jean Galloway, a longtime friend and business colleague, described Bugdanowitz as a “born leader.”
“She is so gracious and spoke so beautifully, especially when addressing a crowd,” Galloway said. “She always spoke from the heart.”
Bugdanowitz once convinced Galloway, who was hesitant, to serve on the foundation’s board.
“She was a hard person to say no to,” Galloway recalled. “Persistent.”
During a road trip to Nebraska with a couple of close friends, Bugdanowitz questioned her fellow travelers about the shapes, sizes, colors and numbers of the many passing road signs. Bugdanowitz was soon querying the internet for answers on the subject.
“She had an amazing intellectual curiosity — organized, efficient, visionary,” Galloway said.
Prior to joining the foundation, Bugdanowitz was vice president of Colorado Carphone, directing the company’s wireless communications and managing major accounts and 20 fulltime employees. She served on the board of Mountain State Employers Council and was a member of the Colorado Women’s Forum of Colorado. Bugdanowitz also served on the boards of the Colorado Health Institute, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she also was board chairwoman.
In 1998, Bugdanowitz received the Woman of Distinction award from the Girl Scouts’ Mile High Council. In 2005, the El Pomar Foundation recognized her “profound and lasting impact on the nonprofit community,” with the “Shrine of the Sun” Award.
In 2014, she was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She also was recognized as the Kal Zeff Business Leader of the Year by Jewish Family Service.
Gov. John Hickenlooper declared Feb. 20, 2016, as “Sheila Bugdanowitz Day.”
“She really cared about our community,” Galloway said. “She was a true one-ofa-kind.”
Bugdanowitz is survived by her husband, Rick; two sons, Michael and Bradley; a sister, Carol Sobel; and two grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, Denver. Memorial contributions may be made to the Rose Community Foundation, 600 S. Cherry St., Denver, 80246.
Sheila Bugdanowitz died unexpectedly Sunday.