Karen Schaufeld

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Karen Schaufeld is a longtime Loudoun resident, enthusiastic volunteer, active patron of the arts and education, mom, author, lawyer and concerned citizen who tirelessly looks for ways to improve the community in which she lives.

Schaufeld, who grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Washington, D.C. to attend law school in the mid-80s, went to Lehigh University on the Class of ’55 Scholarship, which paid for her tuition.

“I wouldn’t have to been able to go to Lehigh without that scholarship,” she shared. “That was a huge thing. The fact that someone I didn’t know had faith in me and my journey made me realize that whatever I do, I also need to help other people in their journeys.”

Her efforts in the past decade alone have included the creation of 100WomenStrong, a group of women who strategically invest in organizations and programs that enrich the lives of Loudoun County citizens. She and her sister, Sandra Shihadeh, also co-founded All Ages Read Together, a Loudoun-county based nonprofit dedicated to preparing young children for success in kindergarten by offering a free pre-K school readiness program for low-income families.

karenschaufelt4“When I moved to Loudoun County in 1991, I found it to be a magical place for my family,” she explained. “We raised our kids here and care deeply about this county. I think that we all have a huge opportunity and responsibility to make where we live the best place it can be. So, as a family, we are focused on Loudoun County and on Leesburg as the traditional hub of the county.”

As she supports organizations across the county and Northern Virginia, Schaufeld and 100WomenStrong are focused on supporting and empowering “community improvement organizations.”

“The term ‘non-profit’ sends the wrong message about how these kinds of organizations should be run, because a nonprofit really has to be run like a for-profit,” she explained. “You are threatening the mission of the organization if you are emptying the coffers every year or if you believe that people who work at these organizations should be paid below par. “Sound financial management means that you should care about endowments and other ways to create income that allows you to continue to do your work and focus on multi-year planning,” she said.

Schaufeld says she is very invested in educational efforts because education is the long-term foundation for success for any society. “If everyone has the ability to be educated to achieve their full potential, you have a society that allows people to have meaningful work and the passion to succeed in it. That is why I am so supportive of All Ages Read Together and why it is a pillar of 100WomenStrong,” she explained. “Shelter, hunger and health are all important and immediate needs, but the long-term strategic foundation of any community’s success is based on a strong educational system. Ultimately, well-educated people are able to provide for themselves.”

Schaufeld’s father, Emil Shihadeh, was a metal fabrication teacher in Pennsylvania and believed very strongly that people who work with their hands should be valued. He died in February 2014 and, to honor his memory, she plans to expand her educational support to include quality vocational education programs.

karenschaufelt2“I believe that vocational education is absolutely important and valuable in our society, and I plan to find ways to invest in this area in the future,” she said. “It takes many different types of personalities, skills, and abilities to form a successful society. For a long time, hands-on work has been devalued, and it really shouldn’t be.” Her vision for her own future – and that of 100WomenStrong and the county – is to create ways for efficient, strategic community improvement organizations to work hand-in-hand with for-profit organizations and the government in a way that best deploys the resources in the county. 100WomenStrong’s Backpack Coalition effort is a model for the three segments of the community to work together.

“I see us creating a data-based platform to ask ‘How do we fix problems?’ and ‘How do we create solutions?’” she said. “More than one segment of the economy is required to do that.”

Schaufeld plans to continue her philanthropic efforts in education while simultaneously thinking about other segments where she can have an impact. In particular, she is starting to focus on afterschool activities for at-risk kids and encouraging Loudoun County to adopt the community school’s model that opens up school buildings to community activities.

“I can’t claim to know everything about the community; I am still learning and will continue to learn as I work with others to create meaningful solutions to the problems we face together.”

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Karen Schaufeld is the author of The Lollipop Tree and Larry and Bob (release date: November 2014), the founder of 100WomenStrong and the co-founder of All Ages Read Together. Her philanthropic efforts in Loudoun County have resulted in more than $750,000 in grants to support local community improvement organizations in the areas of health, shelter, hunger and education. In addition, she is proud to serve as a trustee for Lehigh University and on the Board of Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Educate Loudoun and Venture Philanthropy Partners. She and her husband, Fred Schaufeld, also support Loudoun Country Day School and St. Alban’s, and they own Shoe’s Cup and Cork in downtown Leesburg. She holds a B.A. in English and Government from Lehigh University and a J.D. from George Washington University.

Photo credit: Frank Dene, Act of Light Photography

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