We hope this message finds everyone healthy and doing well this holiday season.
This year has proceeded to bring forth challenges, pressing the Zukowski Family Foundation to identify and focus on the areas that we could have the highest impact. The Board continues to prioritize relationships and causes that align with our mission to help children reach their full potential, accomplish their goals, and pay their success forward to their community.
We were never designed or meant to be a blind check-wiring organization; our value is in the relationships we form and nurture with leaders of other organizations that serve as pillars in their communities. This is truly the only way I know to ensure that your’s and our hard-earned dollars are being directed in the manner that is responsible and meaningful to the recipients that they serve. With this in mind, the Board judiciously reviewed our partnerships in 2021.
With that, we have made a strong commitment to continue to support the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore, the Plymouth Food Pantry, and The Hole-In-The-Wall Gang. This year we were fortunate to have participated in The Hole In The Wall Gang’s matching contribution campaign, and are excited to have renewed our long-term commitment to the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore. Additionally, is with great pleasure to share our newest partner: The National Federation of the Blind. We are happy to announce our very first scholarship recipient from the NFB. Congratulations Jack MacDonald on being this year’s ZFF scholarship recipient.
While we were not able to meet in person as a Board this year, nor hold our annual Alumni dinner, we remained diligent and intentional in where resources were most needed. George Reed, Board Member, and Northeast Outreach Specialist was able to visit the newly remodeled Plymouth Community Food Pantry in Plymouth, CT in October. Our open and communicative relationship with the Pantry and their Director, Larry Chiucarello, has allowed our team to meet the change in demand to serve our community. Last year, they shared a list of other non-profits, such as the Human Resouce Agency of New Britain, that were in greater need of assistance, which we quickly redirected efforts towards. However, this year there were concerns about meeting their projected needs to fully support the community. We are pleased to have lent additional support, ensuring they reach this year’s projected demands. To learn more about who they touch and what they do please visit their website at HOME.
To date, our education program has helped support 33 students through 2021. We were fortunate to have formed a new relationship with The National Federation of The Blind over the past several years and are excited to have a newly formed scholarship opportunity through The National Federation of The Blind. Thank you Deb Reed for the introduction and the opportunity to partner with such a great organization. Deb Reed sits on the board of the NFB, CT. affiliate.
I always talk about the giving portion of what we do, however, it’s a one-handed clap without your support and donations. Since our inception in 2008, we have had 765 individual contributions with approximately 310 being multiple-year donors and 15% donating a decade or more…. Wow…. Thank you!
Without your generous support, we would not be able to reach the number of individuals and organizations we reach…. Again THANK YOU!
The Zukowski Family Foundation (ZFF) was founded in 2008 by Ray and Cheryl Zukowski, alongside their two children RJ and Carissa. It was created to help children as well as individuals or organizations that are directly involved with helping children. Today, the ZFF has provided scholarships to students who are struggling to advance their education, provides everyday necessities to children in need of food, clothing, and shelter, and works closely with a select few organizations that provide for the overall wellbeing of kids in the United States.
The Foundation is supported by a great group of close friends that make up our Board of Directors and volunteer 100% of their time helping us make a difference. Our board of directors consists of a diverse group of family members and outside professionals that bring unique skill sets and strengths to our foundation.
We are proud to have matched all contributions for the first decade and 100% of the ZFF’s fundraising goes to supporting children and young adults in the U.S.
Meet the ZFF Board
Leon Thomas Banas
Ray prides himself on finding solutions and building longstanding relationships. Ray grew up in a small New England town in Connecticut primarily rooted in blue-collar work ethics focused on family and relationships. Ray put his focus and determination to work along with his passion for basketball reaching the 1,000 point plateau in just two years and becoming an All State player his senior year in high-school. Ray went on as a freshman to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD where he still holds several of the freshman scoring records today. Having received a scholarship and having a chance to be closer to home Ray finished his b-ball career at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield CT, “it was the right thing to do for me”. Today the foundation bearing his family name, gives back to his boyhood hometown; with a mission of helping children in need, (discover more by visiting Zukowskifamilyfoundation.org)
In sports one hears of “Player-Coach”; Ray was more like a “Player GM.” Prior to joining Ennoble Venture Partners Ray was the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc. in Sterling, Virginia. He led the company in building a world class customer experience team; growing from 1 technical solution center with 400 associates to more than 10 solution centers with 6,500 associates. Under his leadership and guidance N.E.W. achieved and received the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates award for four consecutive years.
Ray was presented the John F. Welch Leadership award in 2012, and serves on the visitor’s board for The Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield CT. Ray has also served as the Chairperson for The Living Legacy Foundation, and was Honorary Chairman for Special Olympics including a seat at the world games held in Shanghai in 2007
Ray currently lives in Florida, with his wife Cheryl.
Ray’s prior experience includes:
APAC (SVP Operations)
NEW (SVP of Operations)
Ennoble Venture Partners (Founder)
I have held several positions before entering into my full time career as “Domestic Engineer” for the Zukowski Family, which included oversight for our family foundation. (The Zukowski Family Foundation)
I have spent the past 20 plus years raising our two beautiful children R.J. and Carissa. I have tended to all the family needs including several pets, Ray’s career, education, volunteering, and moving our family to 8 different states.
We started our Family Foundation in 2008 where I have been serving as the treasurer.
I have also volunteered and held the treasurer position, for FISH, an outreach organization for the homeless, and those in need of food, shelter and other financial needs in the greater Baltimore area.
RJ is currently an Internal Wholesaler with Starwood Capital, working out of their Arlington, VA office. He graduated with honors from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a Bachelor’s in Economics in 2014.
His work history includes experience in Management Consulting and as a Financial Advisor. RJ is happy to connect with any applicants or current scholarship recipients, send him a message on LinkedIn.
Carissa Zukowski is a Team Leader in Global Data at Bloomberg for the 3rd party Fixed Income Indices data team. Her team covers the recent Point-to-Port migration after the Bloomberg Barclays Indices Acquisition in 2016. Her core focuses are in data modeling and process engineering. She is also the co-lead of the Bloomberg Women in Tech Community. She is currently based out of Princeton, NJ.She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with an Engineering degree in Applied Math and Statistics and Art History. Carissa also holds certificates from Harvard Business School (Credentials of Readiness) and from General Assembly in Data Science. To learn more about Carissa, connect with her on LinkedIn.
Leon Thomas Banas
Leon Banas joined the Zukowski Family Foundation Board of Directors in 2010. He is involved in the Scholarship Program and the Educator Recognition Program and other outreach programs of the foundation, including the “From Our Family To Yours” holiday meal program.
He serves as the liason between the foundation and the Plymouth Public Schools and is the contact person for the Rotary Club of Terryville. Leon received a BS in English and History, an MS in Special Education, an MS in School Counseling from Central Connecticut State University and a CAS in School Administration from Southern Connecticut State University.
Leon is a retired educator with over 40 years of experience. He was a teacher of English and a guidance counselor for 29 years in the Plymouth Public Schools in Plymouth, Connecticut and an assistant principal for 7 years at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, Connecticut. After his retirement he continued to work as a school administrator in several districts in Connecticut.
Leon lives in Palm Coast, Florida.
Paula Banas joined the Zukowski Family Foundation Board of Directors in 2010. She is involved in the Scholarship Program and the Educator Recognition Program and other outreach programs of the foundation, including the “From Our Family To Yours” holiday meal program.
Paula received a BS in Biology and Science, an MS in Science Education, an MS in Mathematics, and a CAS in School Administration form Central Connecticut State University.
Paula is a retired educator with over 40 years of experience. She taught science and mathematics for 27 years, mostly in the Plymouth Public Schools. For 8 years she served as the District Coordinator of Mathematics for the Consolidated School District of New Britain in New Britain, Connecticut. After her retirement she continued to work as a mathematics education consultant for several school districts in Connecticut.
Paula lives in Palm Coast, Florida.
George Reed says that family, faith and community are his cornerstones. His lovely family includes wife Debbie, two daughters Natalie and Kelly and two granddaughters Bella and Julianna.
George is now retired after 40 years of electrical distribution sales. He spends his time volunteering for local charities and it keeps his days full. Here are a few of the charities George is involved with:
Volunteer: Hole in the Wall Camp in Ashford, CT
Volunteer: CFC Soup Kitchen in Bristol, CT
Member: Central Connecticut Chapter of National Federation of the Blind
Committee Member: Charity Cycling Challenge event in Bristol, CT *I gather a team to ride for the Zukowski Foundation
Member: Central Connecticut Chapter of National Federation of the Blind
George also enjoys cycling, and spending time with his family and friends.
ZFF Board Member and Retired Professor Awarded Professor Emeritus Status
Baltimore, Md. – Joseph R. Proulx, EdD, RN, has been appointed professor emeritus by University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD. Proulx served as a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) for 44 years, 37 at the rank of full professor with tenure. He retired in December 2015.
A professor emeritus is a retired faculty member who has demonstrated an exemplary record of service to the School and to the profession. The faculty member must also express a desire to continue to support the School’s mission.
“After working for the School of Nursing for over 40 years, I never expected such an honor. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I appreciate Dean Kirschling and all others who made this honor possible,” Proulx said. “There is an old saying from an educator: ‘By your students you shall be taught,’ and indeed, I have learned a lot. I will always treasure the fond memories of my classroom interactions with all of the wonderful students who have crossed my path.”
During his tenure at UMSON, Proulx developed and taught graduate core courses for the Health Services Leadership and Management master’s program. He served on the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure; Graduate Admissions Committee; Graduate Curriculum Committee; Master’s Program Committee; Specialty Coordinators Committee; and Faculty Council. He was instrumental in designing and implementing the dual-degree offerings for the MS/MBA and the former PhD/MBA from UMSON and the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business, serving as a co-principal. Proulx was also a member of the UMB planning group for an interdisciplinary course on conflict management offered by UMSON and the schools of Medicine, Law, and Social Work.
“We congratulate Dr. Proulx on this well-deserved honor. Throughout his career at the School of Nursing, he gave generously of his time through teaching, mentoring students, and service to the School and University,” said UMSON Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “We are very fortunate that Dr. Proulx chose to share his 44-year career with us and that he also shared his considerable expertise with such a wide array of community programs, educational institutions, and professional organizations. It is no surprise that he continues to be much loved by his former students and mentees and highly esteemed by his faculty colleagues.”
Regionally, Proulx has shared his expertise as a consultant to other nursing programs, including those at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems, George Mason University, Salisbury University, Georgetown University, and the University of Southeastern Louisiana. He also received the Award for Distinguished Achievement in Nursing Service from Columbia University’s Nursing Education Alumni Association of the Teachers College in 1985, and in 1989, he was named an Honorable Mention for the Outstanding Educator Award from the Maryland Association for Higher Education.
Since his retirement, Proulx continues to lecture at UMSON, teaching one class per semester as needed.
I am a Vice President with Fulton Financial Advisors and have been working proudly working with the Zukowski Family for the past 15 yrs. I have had the honor of working closely with the foundation since it inception. The underlying beliefs and goals of the Zukowski Family Foundation make it a privilege to work with such a dedicated board. Now that I am a father it just instilled more of a sense of giving especially to children who are in need of help. I am married to Julia and we have a 7 year old son named Alexander. We reside currently in Sykesville, Maryland.
Ray Zukowski – Board member since 2008 — Ray grew up in Terryville, CT – while his professional career has taken him all across the globe, Ray prides himself on being able to give back to the community that helped shape him. He currently resides in Florida with his lovely wife, Cheryl.
Cheryl Zukowski – Board member since 2008 — Cheryl has had a multitude of experiences across many philanthropic endeavors, though now the ZFF is her primary focus. When she is not busy with the foundation you will likely find her playing with her dogs – Nellie & Gino.
RJ Zukowski – Board member since 2013 — RJ grew up in Maryland and graduated from St. Mary’s College in 2014. He currently resides in Houston, TX with his Fiancée.
Carissa Zukowski – Board member since 2013 — Carissa graduated from John’s Hopkins University in 2016 – she currently lives and works in Boston, MA.
George Reed – Board member since 2012 — George is now retired and living in Connecticut. George is involved in a plethora of charitable organizations and spends his free time cycling.
Joe Proulx – Board member since 2008 — Dr. Proulx was appointed professor emeritus by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Joe served as a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) for 44 years, 37 at the rank of full professor with tenure. He retired in December 2015.
Todd Shaw – Board member since 2008 — Todd currently lives in Maryland with his wife and son where he works with the community as a financial advisor.
Paula Banas — Retired Education Administrator — Board member 2008 – 2018
Tom Banas — Retired High-School Assistant Principal — Board member 2008 – 2018
Contact The Zukowski Family Foundation
Website: Zukowski Family Foundation
We ask that you treat your neighbors with kindness and warmth this holiday season. We ask those who have the means, to consider making a donation to the Zukowski Family Foundation so that we may continue to have an impact on others and create a brighter future for our communities.
Always remember our favorite quote from Abraham Lincoln,
“The best way to predict your future is to create it”.
Ray & Cheryl