2020 Founders Award
JC Pfeiffer: Planting a Seed
“Everybody wins when they invest time, talent or treasure into their community.” – JC Pfeiffer
For JC Pfeiffer, a simple phrase such as “planting a seed” has many meanings. On October 6, 2020, he will be honored for all the seeds he planted in Winona as the Winona Community Foundation presents him with its 2020 Founders Award. This award is given to an individual in the community who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving life in the Winona area through the use of their time, talent and treasure.
The first person who planted a seed in JC’s life was his mother, Daisy May. Above and beyond being a mother, Daisy was a passionate volunteer and advocate for the community she lived in. Her resume includes volunteer work with the Wabasha County Farm Bureau, the Wabasha County Republican Party and the Wabasha County Home Extension. She was a Red Cross field director, a 4-H leader, served on the Wabasha County Fair Committee and Wabasha County Welfare Board, and was a board member of the Citizens Action Council. Considering JC’s involvement and impact on Winona, it’s easy to see that JC’s passion for community was inherited.
JC was born in Rochester, Minnesota and raised on a farm near Mazeppa. He attended Winona State University and while studying in Winona, met his wife, Arlene Ledebuhr of Stockton, whom he wed in 1962. He and Arlene moved to California where he finished his degree at Long Beach State University and received his CPA license (certified public accountant) while starting their family. They eventually returned to the Midwest and JC joined his first Rotary Club. JC and Arlene moved around Wisconsin for his career and raised three children. Around 1985, JC decided to leave his accounting career and move into nonprofit work. He became the Executive Director of the St. Croix Area United Way for nine years and helped establish the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation. Longing to return to the beautiful Winona area, Arlene and JC moved back to Winona in 2000. At that time, JC knew exactly where he wanted to spend his time: the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, the Rotary Club of Winona and the Winona Community Foundation. He wanted to focus on organizations that make a direct impact on the local community. JC shares, “Everybody wins when they invest time, talent or treasure into their community.”
JC has a fifty-year Rotarian career and just recently “retired.” When asked about a memorable moment in his history of Rotary work, he recalls when women were allowed to join the Rotary Club in 1989. He said the addition of women improved the organization and was important. JC was also named Rotarian of the Year in 2016.
At the Winona Community Foundation, JC started as a volunteer but was quickly contracted to help the Foundation earn the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations accreditation. The staff at the time described this as a major undertaking but successful. And at the end of the job, JC donated his pay back to the Foundation. After this project, he continued to work with the Foundation, advocating and promoting its services and benefits. He even started three funds himself; the JC and Arlene Pfeiffer Fund, Connect People to Nature Fund, and the Rushes Wilderness Fund. It’s clear that nature is a passion of JC’s. He is especially proud of the Connect People to Nature Fund which has awarded money toward the Sugarloaf Access trail, the Flyway Trail project and Camp Wenonah for new signage for community members to enjoy. He once wrote, “Isn’t it great to be part of something that people really enjoy and that can connect them closer to nature?”
In addition to his work at the Foundation since being back in Winona, JC has volunteered with the United Way, Volunteer Services, Friendship Center and Winona Family YMCA. People that worked with JC describe him as collaborative, passionate, knowledgeable, likeable, trustworthy, and inspirational.
JC and Arlene enjoy a quiet retired life in Winona. They have three adult children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Humbly accepting this honor, JC imparts, “Arlene and I only planted small seeds. A lot of people are involved in growing the community.”
Help us celebrate JC and thank him for planting seeds and improving life in the Winona area at the October 6, 2020 Founders Event. Contact the Foundation with any questions.