MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Cindy Washko-Margraf

A member since 2019, Cindy Washko-Margraf was a bit disappointed that she didn’t know about Impact100 South Jersey one year earlier. Being a philanthropist at heart, she deeply endorses the concept of collective giving and would have loved to have been a charter member. Nevertheless, she is very proud to be a member for the last five years and to be a part of such an impactful group of women making a real difference in South Jersey.

Cindy and her late husband raised their children in Medford though she recently sold the family home and now lives full time in their Ocean City home. Despite the move from the chapter’s four-county footprint, Cindy continues as a member and is happy to be a part of a regional group of philanthropic women supporting a large part of South Jersey.

Her family has been committed to helping Camden nonprofits for decades and she continues her dedication to the city’s families through educational philanthropic initiatives. 

In fact, Cindy learned about Impact100 SJ through LUCY Outreach. As the board chair at the organization, she was excited to learn about the Core Mission grant opportunity and to join the chapter.

Beyond the collective giving concept, Cindy thoroughly enjoys the networking opportunities that Impact100 SJ offers. She has attended many of the in-person events, when there wasn’t a pandemic, and finds the mix of women she meets to be energizing and enlightening.

As a passionate advocate for educational opportunities for young people, Cindy had hoped to sit on the grant review focus area for education. Unfortunately, her many obligations to other nonprofits limited her availability for committee meetings. She plans to re-visit committee work again in 2024.

To say Cindy is busy with philanthropic work, or busy in general, is an understatement. She and her three adult children established an endowed scholarship in her late husband’s name, Tim Margraf Endowed Scholarship, at Villanova University for students in need. There is a caveat in the scholarship that preference be directed to any LUCY high school student applying.

Cindy Washko-Margraf (far right) with other Impact100 SJ Members at LUCY Outreach Groundbreaking. Also pictured (l-r): Nancy Weber, Kyle Ruffin, Kim Moon, Elena Piperno.

Each family member contributes annually to the fund to continue its growth and participates in the selection process. Cindy recently stepped down from the board at The Joseph Fund and as board chair for LUCY Outreach, although she continues as an active board member with LUCY. She also sat on the board of her HOA.

Membership in Impact100 SJ is a natural fit for Cindy. Her long-standing commitment to philanthropy began in the 1980s when she and her husband focused on teaching their young children to give back. 

What began with creating Thanksgiving baskets for families in Camden led to decades of advocating for young people in the city and beyond. The family sponsored one student and then sponsored an entire class from kindergarten through 8th grade at Sacred Heart in Camden. They brought their children to visit the classroom, and as a family, fostered relationships with all the students, even attending their graduations. Some of the students participated in LUCY programs and then went on to college. Cindy has followed them through their journey and the family remains close to many of the students.

As a board member of The Joseph Fund in Camden, Cindy was introduced to LUCY Outreach as the ministry’s advocate. LUCY, at that time, was a ministry program operating in a church basement.  Cindy began volunteering as a college prep mentor. It was during this time that Cindy had a particularly impactful experience of helping a young woman apply for, and get accepted to St. Joe’s, with a full ride!

In one fast-paced week during the Christmas holidays, Cindy helped a young woman start and complete her college application and essay to meet the January 1 application deadline. This experience made such an impression on the young woman. Cindy recognized that without a volunteer to help, any volunteer – not just her, the young woman’s application would not have happened.  

The power of one person making a difference was clear to Cindy and she was hooked on LUCY.  She  joined the board and has helped take LUCY from a small ministry program to a separate 501c(3), to acquiring their first building, and recently leading the Capital Campaign to raise funds for the building of Lucy’s new Youth Center! 

After being involved with LUCY for over 10 years, seeing the youth center come alive when all the kids are on-site leaves Cindy with great pride.

The Margraf family legacy of philanthropy is firmly in place. In addition to Cindy’s children being personally invested in the scholarship at Villanova, they actively support LUCY. Cindy’s daughter founded Hark, an initiative in New York City, where young professionals run events to raise funds for youth passion projects, such as supporting music, dance, and performing arts programs for at-risk youth in the city. Her siblings were dedicated participants in her efforts and recruited friends from Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York to help make the events successful. 

During her professional career as a critical care nurse turned healthcare administrator, Cindy is proud of her role in establishing an onsite Childcare Center in Philadelphia, the first of its kind in 1989.

As Director of Planning of Graduate Health Systems, Cindy developed a proposal, feasibility study and researched the licenses needed to build and operate the facility and won approval for it. She benefited from this achievement as well when she was able to bring her children to work and know they were nearby in the daycare center. So many staff took advantage of the on-site childcare to be able to maintain critically needed careers in healthcare.

In her personal life, Cindy stays very involved. Family is her greatest joy and she spends considerable time with her three adult children and new granddaughter. They share many interests with her and Cindy also has a wide range of friends that she enjoys her many hobbies with. She loves to travel and is an avid skier. 

As a member of the South Jersey Ski Club, she skied in Colorado, Alaska, Idaho and Montana earlier this year. 

Cindy is also a competitive pickleball player, she bikes, golfs and loves being on the water. Ocean City is her happy place and each summer you will find Cindy engaged in water sports including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and boating. Cindy often shares her shore home and water sports with the LUCY Outreach youth and with the staff for annual retreats and team-building activities.

It’s clear that Cindy lives by the code she raised her children with, which is to be kind, to give back and always look for the good in others.