Sinton Award Winner John Pritzker – Leading by Example

The Robert Sinton Award for Distinguished Leadership is one of the Federation's highest accolades. It is awarded annually to “extraordinary lifetime leaders” who have consistently given their time, leadership, and mentorship to our community while exemplifying the importance of tzedakah and philanthropy in their lives.

John Pritzker, the 2024 Sinton Award recipient, embodies these virtues, not only through his years of service to the Federation, but to nonprofits throughout the Bay Area, Israel, and beyond. The award will be presented at the Federation’s Day of Philanthropy event on October 14, 2024.

John PritzkerJohn serves on the Executive Council of UCSF Health and the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he chairs the Visiting Committee on Modern and Contemporary Art. He is also a board member of the Bernard Osher Foundation. Moreover, the John Pritzker Family Fund has made prominent investments supporting the UCSF Nancy Friend Pritzker Department of Psychiatry Building, the India Basin Waterfront Park, and the new Tang Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Locally, the foundation is a significant supporter of the JCRC, Temple Emanu-el, the JCCSF, and, of course, the Federation.

John combines an abiding passion for the well-being of the Jewish community with an unflinching focus on facts, and has never been reticent to share the truth as he sees it. So, when he says he is “impressed” with the Federation’s new strategic plan, it’s not faint praise.

"I think we've turned around the notion of just holding out a hand and expecting cash to drop into it to offering services that will bring people into the Jewish world by helping to guide their giving.”

– John Pritzker

“I’m really impressed with all that Joy [Sisisky] and Rebecca [Randall] have accomplished,” said John. “I think the new direction acknowledges the current state of giving in the Jewish world and philanthropy. It's one of those rare times when the opportunity and the team to execute converge in a powerful way.

For a person who has undertaken so many philanthropic endeavors, John was skeptical that he himself had the skill set to lead a campaign. That is, until he was thrust into the role.

“I was on the Federation board when Phyllis [Cook] told me I was going to run the campaign. To be honest, I was much more comfortable giving than asking. But I jumped in and found I actually enjoyed it… As it turned out, I was pretty good at it.” He was so good at it, in fact, that he soon became Federation Board President.

That experience was a huge teaching moment for him. “I learned it was okay to do what might not be so comfortable for you.” Indeed, that willingness to step out of your comfort zone, come forward, and say, “If not me, then whom?” is exactly what he urges future Federation leaders to take on and embrace. “We can’t just wait for other people to do this stuff,” John said. “Especially now, with all the challenges we’re facing, it's so important that we stand up and do this work.”

Like most great mentors, John is quick to acknowledge that he has had great mentors himself. “I didn't come to all of this on my own,” he said. “Phyllis Cook, Barney Osher, Warren Hellman, Dick Rosenberg, Michael Jacobs, and countless others helped to make me a useful member of society. For that, I am forever grateful.”

The Robert Sinton Award for Distinguished Leadership is in honor of Robert Sinton, a community leader whose dedication to the Federation and other Bay Area organizations spanned more than five decades. This leadership award embodies his passion for Jewish communal and civic volunteerism. The Sinton Award is for an extraordinary life-time leader who has given time consistently to the Jewish and general communities. For questions, please email


June 05, 2024


Jon Moskin