Executive Director Debbie Sosland-Edelman Ph.D. now leads the Sosland Foundation. The family foundation and the family members also strive to set an example in matters of charity. The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Sosland Foundation founders inherited their charitable spirit and commitment to community, as seen from the family’s history in publishing. They carry on the philanthropic tradition by contributing personally, serving on community boards as well as the foundation’s board. There are five primary focuses for the foundation: social services, Jewish issues, arts and culture, education, health matters and civic improvements.
As a board of directors’ member for the Museum at Prairiefire, Sosland-Edelman recalls visiting the American Museum of Natural History. “It’s one of my favorite childhood memories only exceeded by the joy of taking our children to the American Museum of Natural History. It’s truly extraordinary that for the first time in its 143-year history, AMNH has lent its name and entered into a collaborative agreement with the Museum at Prairiefire. We are extremely lucky to have access to and draw on AMNH’s unparalleled education and science resources. Kansas Citians and regional visitors will be able to access the content within a short drive, rather than having to fly to New York … Prairiefire will have its own local and regional distinctiveness complete with 5 acres of native wetlands where visitors can learn about sustainable ecological environments. I am also really excited about the Discovery Room. In addition to its outstanding rotating exhibitions, the Museum at Prairiefire will provide an exciting gateway to science and natural history for young children ages three and older in the Prairiefire Discovery Room.”
While she is not a business woman in the traditional sense, she has run the family foundation for 25 years. “I think I have pretty good grasp of the Kansas City philanthropic community and not-for-profit organizations. People believe that non-profit cultural organizations drain resources when in fact they create jobs and produce tax revenue. A strong arts sector is an economic ASSET that stimulates business activity, attracts tourism revenue, retains high quality work force and stabilizes property values,” she says. “We aspire to make the Museum at Prairiefire one of the best educational and cultural assets in the region. And because it will be such a strong draw, we will attract visitors from all over the Midwest.”
While the museum is a relative newcomer, Sosland-Edelman is proud of a few aspects already. “First, I connected Linda Segebrecht with this project. Linda is one of the brightest, most talented educators I have ever had the pleasure of working and she is one of the best things to have happened to this effort. Second, I am so proud of Fred and Candy Merrill’s vision to see what Prairiefire could mean to Kansas City and the region. In the face of the 2008 economic downturn, they showed tremendous courage and determination and never gave up the dream to build Prairiefire. And finally, I am so proud of the connection to AMNH. That Prairiefire is the first and only time AMNH has lent its name and provided a venue outside of NY to exhibit their artifacts is truly extraordinary.”
She will continue to support the museum. “I have supported the museum financially and by giving my time over the last three years. I hope the community will come out to see our wonderful exhibits, become members and spread the word. This is going to one of Kansas City’s finest educational and cultural assets.”