As we wrap up our "Behind the Board" series, we highlight Jay Grunin. Jay is the Co-Founder and Board Chair of the Grunin Foundation.

1. The Grunin Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all members of our community by using philanthropy to drive economic excellence at the Central Jersey Shore. What does economic excellence mean to you?

For me, economic excellence is when all components of an economic ecosystem are working in sync so that everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to live a healthy and happy life.

2. Of our grantmaking pillars (arts, education, healthcare) which are you most passionate about and why?

Obviously, all of the pillars have special meaning to me, but having to choose, I will say the Arts. Beyond the beauty of looking at a painting, listening to a musical composition or reading a good book (the list goes on), is the ability of the Arts to bring people together. They improve mental health outcomes, foster collaboration and equity, and provide outlets for self-expression. The Arts do so much for us as individuals, for the community and the economy.

3. We strive to ensure that all our partners are committed to advancing equity. How do you (or how does your organization) work to advance equity in the community?

The Grunin Foundation and all of our team members continue to learn and work with our partners, colleagues, and communities to help advance equity at the Central Jersey Shore and beyond. We will never pretend to have all the answers, but we will always stay committed to deepening our work to help make the community a more equitable place while ensuring our partners share in this commitment with us.

4. What is your favorite part of the Central Jersey Shore and why?

My personal favorite part of the Central Jersey Shore is the river - the Toms River itself. From watching young children learn how to sail, to observing the myriad wildlife along the shoreline, to marveling at the beautiful natural landscape and skyscape which changes daily and seasonably, to being awestruck at the beauty of a morning sunrise or the moon reflecting off the pristine undulating waters at night, to a magical rainbow at the end of a summer shower  - all free of charge - is serenity and tranquility epitomized. Truly, a crown jewel of the Central Jersey Shore.