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Ronya Kozmetsky, Renowned Philanthropist and Founder of the RGK Center, Dies at Age 90

Ronya Kozmetsky, renowned philanthropist and founder of the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the age of 90.

Ronya and George KozmetskyKozmetsky founded the RGK Foundation in 1966 with her husband George Kozmetsky who was a long-time educator and administrator at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2000, the RGK Foundation established the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School with an initial $5 million grant.

“While George was the brilliant businessman and education leader, Ronya was the heart and spirit of their family and the leader of their engagement in philanthropy,” said Curtis Meadows, Founding Executive Director of the RGK Center. “She had a passion for helping others and a personal interest in their welfare. She inspired and encouraged her children and grandchildren to do likewise.”

Curtis Meadows now serves as the Chair of the RGK Center’s advisory council.

“When I proposed the idea of an academic and education center at the LBJ School at The University of Texas at Austin to Ronya and Greg Kozmetsky, they immediately understood its potential. More importantly, they wanted to make it happen,” said Meadows. “She also understood the importance of promoting others to participate and engage in philanthropic thinking and action using best practices and seeking effective partnership interventions with community agencies.”

The mission of the RGK Center is to build knowledge about nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and volunteerism, and to prepare students and practitioners to make effective contributions to their communities. According to Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the School and Center are deeply indebted to Ronya and George Kozmetsky.

“Due to the vision and generosity of the Kozmetsky family, their shared commitment to promoting civic engagement and voluntary action will live on in the legacy they created in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the Johnson School,” said Hutchings. “Through her philanthropic thinking and actions, Ronya Kozmetsky exemplified the highest ideals of public service and the noblest American tradition of caring for the welfare of others, ideals that continue to guide the work of the Center and the School.”

Under the direction of Ronya Kozmetsky, the RGK Foundation grew to a $110 million charitable fund. In addition to funding the RGK Center, the foundation has been a major source of funding for other educational institutions, including St. Edward’s University in Austin. The Foundation also sponsored conferences that enhanced information exchange and developed linkages among business, academia, community and government.

Well known as a feminist, Kozmetsky worked to empower women through funding a national women’s museum in Dallas and underwriting Leadership Texas.

She was the author of several books, including "Making it Together: A Survival Manual for the Executive Family" and "Women in Business; Succeeding as a Manager, Professional, or Entrepreneur." Kozmetsky is survived by a son, Gregory Kozmetsky, who now heads the RGK Foundation, and a daughter, Nadya Scott. Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Tarrytown United Methodist Church. For a full obituary, visit: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/philanthropist-educator-and-feminist-ronya-kozmetsky-dies-at-1934009.html

The RGK Foundation endeavors to be a catalyst for progressive change in humanitarian concerns. Guiding the Foundation is a deep reverence for democracy and a civil society together with the founders' values of foresight, imagination and discovery. By seeking innovative projects in the area of health, education, human services and community affairs, the Foundation strives to advance knowledge, improve society and help realize human potential.

The RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service supports the nonprofit sector with education, research and outreach by expanding in the region the academic base for the growing study of policies and practices affecting nonprofits, and by contributing to national and international debates about the future of the sector. RGK Center initiatives emphasize collaborative approaches and international perspectives in order to foster research and dialogue across fields and across borders.