Jody Gross laughs that she was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school “because I haven’t made more than $60,000 in my lifetime! I’ve happily volunteered my life away.” But ask almost any one of the 1,000 Summit County women she helped rally to give $1,000 each to the Park City Foundation to seed the million-dollar Women’s Giving Fund endowment, and they’d likely say she’s fulfilled that adolescent prophecy and then some. “Community service is in my DNA,” she says. “It was simply expected of us. My parents didn’t always have a lot, but they always found a way to give.”
Gross was born and raised in the Kansas City, Kansas, area and met her husband at a shopping center convention. They lived in Arizona and Florida before alighting in Park City 11 years ago. Along the way, she ran the South Florida Women’s Business Conference, served on the board of the Tucson Association for Child Care, and is currently on the National Board of the United Jewish Federation of North America. So why did this midwestern belle choose Utah? “I wanted to live in a smaller town where my [four] kids had to be accountable for their actions,” she says.
“I pretty much appointed myself to chair the Women’s Giving Fund because I was a board member of Park City Foundation and knew that it couldn’t be accomplished in one year without a chairperson,” Gross adds. “The best thing about the project was the relationships I made with women in the community along the way. We now have more than 1,200 members. It’s incredible how many young women, who never dreamt they could donate that much, participated and were able to give $84 a month.
“Society is tough on girls right now,” Gross continues. “Through the foundation’s mentoring program, outstanding women in different fields speak to middle school–age girls about their experiences and how important it is to believe in themselves. It’s good to hear it from these mentors and not just their own mothers.
“I volunteer to thank the world for all the luck I’ve enjoyed,” she says. “Anytime I’ve been involved with something I’ve given my all to, it comes back to me, either in things I’ve learned from other people or about myself.”