A lifelong philanthropist, Angelica Berrie has helped transform the world by funding causes ranging from religious tolerance to nanotechnology. Angelica Urra graduated from Assumption College in the Philippines in 1977 and became an entrepreneur, manufacturing and selling Filipino crafts. In 1986 she became an “accidental activist,” staring down tanks in protest of Ferdinand Marcos as a member of the People Power revolution, a movement that led to Marcos’s ouster. In 1989 she met Russell Berrie, who had both a successful toy company and a thriving charity supporting causes as diverse as diabetes care, interfaith understanding, and improving education in New Jersey. The couple married in 1992 and Berrie spent the next decade helping her husband run both his business and his charity. After Russell Berrie died suddenly in 2002, Angelica Berrie served briefly as CEO of Russ Berrie and Co. before selling it to focus on philanthropy. As of 2023 she serves as president of the Russell Berrie Foundation Board of Trustees, making significant donations to typhoon relief in the Philippines and using a $26 million matching gift to inspire the Israeli government to invest more in nanotechnology. Berrie also continued to promote the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award, established by her late husband in 1997; during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was vocal in urging New Jerseyans to send in nominees. Since its inception, this award has granted stipends to over 400 New Jersey residents who have enacted positive change in their communities. In 2009 she founded the Angelica Berrie Foundation, which funds causes outside the scope of the Russell Berrie Foundation’s interests, and in 2011 she wrote A Passion for Giving to inspire other would-be philanthropists. Originally of mixed Buddhist and Catholic heritage, Berrie converted to Judaism after years of living and studying as a Jew and has made interfaith understanding a cornerstone of her work. In 2010 she became the chair of the Shalom Hartman Institue of North America board of directors, a position she still holds in 2023. Berrie also joined the board of the Leichtag Foundation, a philanthropic organization serving Jewish life in North San Diego County and Jerusalem, in 2019, serving as Vice Chair of the board as of 2023.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Angelica Berrie." (Viewed on November 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/berrie-angelica>.