Philanthropy: Mort and Marcy Friedman

Marcy and Mort Friedman © UC Regents
Marcy and Mort Friedman

Posted Dec. 22, 2010

"Tikkun olam," or, "repairing the world," is the Hebrew phrase that guides the philanthropic practices of Mort and Marcy Friedman. For the two of them, it really is a matter of giving back to a city they cherish.

"I feel a strong obligation to give back to a community that has been so kind to us and our family," says Marcy. "We feel a sense of love for the place where we live."

This commitment to their community is the reason the two were named "Sacramentan of the Year" by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and "Philanthropist of the Year" by the National Society of Fundraising Executives.

Three years ago, the Friedmans extended their generosity to the MIND Institute. Their pledge helped to sponsor the Distinguished Lecturer Series, a monthly series of free public presentations that focus on groundbreaking discoveries in the world of neurodevelopmental disorders. Marcy says it was a gesture to honor a beloved family member.

“We first decided to support the MIND Institute for a personal reason. It was to honor my daughter-in-law.”

“We first decided to support the MIND Institute for a personal reason. It was to honor my daughter-in-law.”
— Marcy Friedman

Their daughter-in-law, Marjorie Solomon-Friedman, is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis, and director of the MIND Institute’s Social Skills Program, a program that has received praise for assisting children and teens who are struggling with autism to develop and strengthen their social skills.

DLS schedule © UC Regents
Distinguished Lecturer Series calendar, click here to view larger version. 

But the Friedmans’ support is also rooted in an appreciation for health care and the need to educate the public.

“My family has an extensive background in medicine,” says Marcy, “so I have a great affinity for this field. The education component of the Distinguished Lecturer Series, in terms of enhancing outreach to the community, is right on target.”

The Friedmans’ annual support has enabled the Distinguished Lecturer Series to expand from a six- to a nine-month lecture series, spanning the entire academic school year. Guest speakers are many of the most brilliant and well-respected scientists in the field of neurodevelopmental disorder research. After witnessing the success and growth of the program, the Friedmans have now pledged to co-sponsor the event for another two years.

"The feedback we’ve gotten is that the program is very well received. They have expanded the series and welcome not only scientists and researchers but the general public as well. In a time when autism is becoming more and more common, this issue is of vital interest,” says Marcy.

The Friedmans’ pledge of $20,000 each year will provide half the funds needed to support the Distinguished Lecturer Series, and they have given this amount for a reason. Private funding is becoming increasingly important to continue the research and outreach at the MIND Institute. The Friedmans hope that their pledge will help inspire others to give.

If you are interested in supporting the MIND Institute, please contact An Nguyen, development officer for the MIND Institute, at (916) 703-0221 or e-mail

"This should be a way to leverage giving," says Marcy. "We want to offer other people an opportunity to give back to this wonderful program. The UC Davis Health System is the second-largest employer in Sacramento and the MIND Institute itself is a groundbreaking resource of research. Our community should be proud to have such an institute of both local and national regard. If our gift, in some small way, serves as a catalyst to stimulate others to give – it has served its purpose."