As you may already know, we were devastated to learn that our beloved colleague Sarah Cohen-Doherty passed away unexpectedly this week. Sarah was a ray of sunshine and exemplified what it is to be a community change-maker. We are deeply grieving this loss. Sarah was laid to rest on July 26th at a private family burial and a virtual shiva minyan was held on July 27th.
Sarah was not simply our Community Impact Manager, she was the heart of our team. Her passion and commitment to SVP’s work shone brightly, and it reverberated throughout our Partnership. We have been overwhelmed with messages of admiration and support from so many of you, and they have meant a great deal to our team. Sarah was truly loved and will be profoundly missed.
Gifted with the trifecta of intelligence, dedication, and charm, Sarah chose a clear path to making a positive impact in her community. She joined SVP Portland in 2017 after earning a master’s degree in teaching from Willamette University and working as a teacher, education program coordinator, and communications project manager. Her diverse experience brought a wealth of knowledge to SVP, and the organization has been enriched greatly because of it. Sarah lived SVP, not just as staff, but as a true partner.
And Sarah didn’t join alone — she brought her family with her. Her husband Brian, an early contributor to what is now the Financial Partner Team, shared that, “Sarah was my true soulmate. A connection neither of us expected to find in this life and celebrated throughout our relationship. Her passion for the work SVP was doing was something I heard almost daily. Thank you for being something good enough and important enough that she truly loved what she did. And she knew we all need to keep moving forward and making this world a better place, that what we do is truly important.”
Her father Jerry and mother Ruth were first active volunteers and donors before becoming engaged Partners in 2018. “Sarah was so happy and proud of the work of SVP,” Jerry and Ruth shared. “Sarah was a shooting star that shined so bright and impacted so many people. And we are very proud of her and her many achievements, especially her lifelong dedication to children, early childhood literacy and education, and bringing generations together. We honor her legacy.”
The majority of what you have read in our newsletters, on our blog, and on social media has been written by Sarah. We struggle to do this memorial justice and, as we write these words, we can’t help but hear her critiques, both playful and exacting. With steadfast purpose to seek clarity, transparency, and warmth, Sarah was always striving to share with you the best of SVP and the transformational impact that we make in our community.
We will not be the same without Sarah, and we know she would not only expect us to move forward, she would demand it (with graceful persistence). Her voice may be quieted, but her indelible mark on SVP will never be forgotten.
At the request of her family, we have established The Sarah Cohen-Doherty Memorial Fund, dedicated to SVP Portland’s goal that all children have access to high-quality, culturally-relevant early learning experiences. Donations to this fund will support early childhood literacy, quality preschool, and advocacy. We cannot think of a better way to celebrate Sarah’s life than to continue the work to which she was so committed.