Inscribed in a stained glass window in the Ratskeller of the German Society of PA (GSP) in Philadelphia is the following saying from Goethe – Was du ererbt von deinen Vätern hast, erwirb es, um es zu besitzen. (What you have inherited from your fathers, earn it. Thus it will be yours.) As a first generation German-American, this saying speaks to me.
My mother was born near Tilsit, Ostpreussen and my father was born in Falkenburg, Pommern. Today, most of my relatives reside in Western Germany. The above saying also causes me to think more deeply about the word “heritage” as it is part of the GAHF name. Cultural heritage, an expression of the ways of an ethnic group and passed on from generation to generation, includes customs, practices, places, artistic expressions, and values. Our heritage enables us to develop an awareness about ourselves and plays an important role in our politics, society, business and also world view.
Over the past thirty plus years I have been involved in the GSP in many ways – starting as an AATG award winner in high school, to a variety of roles on the Board (Director, Board Secretary and Executive Committee member, Personnel Committee chair, Anniversary committee member), and as President of the Women’s Auxiliary. I have seen how important it is to reinforce and/or introduce German ethnic studies to young people to build future capacity. Heritage organizations have a duty to provide a wide variety of programming from youth development and education to community involvement. The preservation of the arts and customs is also part of that mission.
With my professional retirement in December 2019, I have more time to commit to helping preserve my German heritage. In my most recent role as Vice President of Human Resources at Penn Medicine Princeton Health, my duties included change and talent management for 3500 employees and 1000 physicians, as well as the management of an 800-member Volunteer Department – all areas of focus for any organization moving forward.
Given the changing world over the past eighteen months, the GAHF will need to find new and creative ways to continue its mission. I would be honored to share my passion and creativity with the GAHF as a Board member.
The German-American Heritage Foundation (aka United German-American Committee of the USA, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 23-2033554), and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Please remember GAHF in your estate plans.