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Alexandra (Sani) Wolf Fogel | 1936-2023

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our founding executive director, Alexandra (Sani) Wolf Fogel, who died February 28, 2023 at the age of 86.  Sani was named to lead the newly-formed Delaware Valley Grantmakers (DVG) in July 1988. She served as DVG's executive director until November 1995, when she moved to Maine to become the founding director of the Maine Philanthropy Center. She was instrumental in the growth and development of the national network of philanthropy-serving organizations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers - now the United Philanthropy Forum. Read more about Sani's life and contributions below.

Alexandra Wolf Fogel

ROCKPORT, ME — Sani Wolf Fogel died at her home in Rockport, Maine on February 28, 2023, at the age of 86. Sani was an explorer and an enthusiast: an accomplished arts executive, a long-time philanthropic leader, an active member of many communities, and an avid sailor. She will be remembered by friends and family for her intrepid, fierce, and loyal presence.

Alexandra Wolf was born in Philadelphia on November 1, 1936, the first child of Irene G. and Walter “Billy” Wolf. The eldest of six, Sani was a spirited leader, inclined to adventure. During summers spent with her family in Rockport, Maine, Sani discovered a love for sailing. At age 16, she purchased her first boat, the Chip-in, with help from her younger brothers and sisters. In a life that included boat voyages across the globe, the coast of Maine remained her favorite place to sail.

Sani attended Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1958. She married Herbert Fogel of Philadelphia (whom she later divorced), while enrolled at Sarah Lawrence college, challenging school policy in order to return to her studies. The couple had two daughters, Alexa and Marya.

Sani acted upon dual commitments – to the arts and to community – over the course of her professional life. She grew up surrounded by classical music – her grandmother was Russian-born violinist Lea Luboschutz, one of many relatives who were professional musicians. She was also introduced to the world of philanthropy and the arts in Philadelphia by an older generation of pioneering female relatives. Sani worked for the Friends Neighborhood Guild in Philadelphia where she was mentored by its legendary director, Francis Bosworth, and also served as the Volunteer Director of the Park House Guides at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She worked as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of Young Audiences, an organization that brings the performing arts into schools. In 1988, Sani founded the Delaware Valley Grantmakers (now Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia), where she worked as the Director until 1995.

Sani moved to Maine full time in 1995 to become the founding Executive Director of the Maine Philanthropy Center and served in that position until 2001. The library of the Center bears her name, in honor of her service. For over 60 years, Sani was active with Bay Chamber Concerts, which was founded by two of her brothers, Andrew and Thomas Wolf. Starting as a ticket taker in the early days, Sani was a passionate supporter of the organization, serving as Board President from 2016-2021, and as a member of the development committee for over 20 years. A music lover and an advocate of the power of culture to build community, Sani advocated for the organization to enrich its educational offerings. She helped to create the plan and the financial model for the Bay Chamber Music School, which opened in June of 2010. A studio in the new building will be named in her honor. A capable and generous host, Sani will be remembered also for the post-concert gatherings she hosted for visiting musicians.

Sani loved Maine and was dedicated to her Rockport-centered community. She served two three-year terms on the Town of Rockport Select Board from 2006 to 2012 and volunteered on multiple town committees including the Opera House Committee and the Harbor Committee. She was both a leader and a consensus builder, always eager to hear new ideas.

Sani served on the boards of the United Mid-Coast Charities as well as the Camden Conference. She Chaired the Governing Board of the Camden Conference in 2000-2001, and she continued on the organization’s Advisory Board after her term ended. Her board service also included The Jackson Laboratory in Mount Desert, Maine, and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine.

Alongside her professional and volunteer achievements, Sani sustained a vibrant circle of family and friends, who relied upon her to provide adventure, sailing lessons, spectacular meals, and unwavering support.

She is survived by two daughters, Alexa Lea Fogel and Marya Fogel Flanagan; son-in-law, Judson Flanagan; grandchildren, Eavan and Jacob Flanagan; sisters Catherine Wolf and Lucy Tuton; brothers Nicholas and Thomas Wolf; brother-in-law John Tuton, sisters-in-law Patricia Wolf, Linda Wolf and Dennis Palmer Wolf, as well as nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and her beloved springer spaniel, Minnie.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School and to United Mid-Coast Charities.

Arrangements are in the care of Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock Street, Rockland, ME.

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