Soroptimists name Woman of Distinction |

Soroptimists name Woman of Distinction

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Tamara Lieberman accepts her Woman of Distinction award from the Soroptimist Club.

For Donner Summit’s Tamara Lieberman, being named a Woman of Distinction could not have come at a better time.”It came at a wonderful time in my life because I just retired,” said Lieberman, who was awarded by the local Soroptimist branch last month. “It kind of brought really nice closure to retiring.”The Woman of Distinction recognition program was instituted in 1984 as a way for Soroptimist clubs to honor the women in their communities. The recipient must have made outstanding contributions for at least 10 years in her community.Joan Hartwell, coordinator for the Woman of Distinction program, said Lieberman was a perfect candidate for the award.

“[Lieberman] has a long history of working for nonprofits and making things work for other people,” Hartwell said. “We thought she is very worthy. She is a great role model for other women. She is just the epitome of what this award is.”For the past two decades, Lieberman has worked for the nonprofit sector. Before that, she was a social worker. In that line of work she felt like she couldn’t do anything to change the system, she said.After Lieberman moved with her husband and their three children from on-the-move Washington, D.C., to the slow life on Donner Summit in 1975, she received her master’s degree in sociology.At that time there were only two nonprofits in Truckee.

As Lieberman approached age 40, her career began. She set up the volunteer portion of Tahoe Forest Hospital’s home health hospice services, was a volunteer coordinator at United Way’s Volunteer Action Center in Reno and then became the executive director of the Northern Nevada Food Bank. And that was just the 1980s.For 11 years, she was the executive director of the March of Dimes’ Nevada and Northern California chapters.That’s when she retired the first time.Then in 1999, Lieberman said she “couldn’t resist” a program officer gig at the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, a vehicle for people and businesses in the region to provide local dollars to respond to local needs and opportunities. There she was able to work with nonprofits in the community and share her years of experience as an executive director.

Also, it was the perfect way to round out a career in nonprofits; this time, she was giving money away rather than raising it.”I never could have worked the hours I did, or as hard as I did, if it would’ve been for the company’s bottom line,” she said.Though she won’t be working nearly as many hours in her retirement, Lieberman doesn’t plan to slow down too much. She will continue as a board member with the Truckee Donner Land Trust and will still hold workshops for the Community Foundation.She will have no shortage of work. The number of nonprofits in the area is still on the rise.”I think that’s wonderful – that’s one of the best things I’ve seen with our recent changes,” Lieberman said of Truckee and North Tahoe’s growing nonprofit sector. “You can really make things happen here in a small town.”

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