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Johnson estate donates $2.5 million to Schenectady charities

Johnson estate donates $2.5 million to Schenectady charities

The gifts constitute the majority of the financial assets she left in her estate
Johnson estate donates $2.5 million to Schenectady charities
Karen Johnson was named a Schenectady Patroon at Steinmetz Park last year.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — Five non-profit groups will receive a total of $2.5 million from the estate of the late city mayor Karen Johnson. 

Recipients are the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, Proctors, the Schenectady Foundation, SUNY Schenectady County Community College and YWCA of NorthEastern NY, each of whom will receive in “excess of $500,000,” according to her sons, Kent and Eric Johnson, who announced the gifts on Thursday. 

“We know our mother was deeply grateful for the positive work these organizations do in Schenectady and we are proud that her legacy includes supporting their ongoing work,” Kent Johnson said in a released statement.

Johnson died in June after a long illness at the age of 77.

The gifts constitute the majority of the financial assets she left in her estate.

“In passing, she left most of her assets to organizations making an ongoing positive impact on the community she loved,” said the statement. 

Johnson served as the city’s first female mayor from 1984 to 1992, and before that, on the City Council, being elected in 1975. 

Afterward, she served on the county Legislature, numerous boards and remained involved in projects designed to bolster community arts, music and education programming. 

“We hope these gifts might inspire others toward philanthropic investment in the community to continue the good work that makes Schenectady such a wonderful place to live,” said Eric Johnson.
 
Shane Bargy, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, said the organization was very appreciative of the gift.

“With this remarkable gift, Karen continues to do what she did when she was here -- take care of her Schenectady community,” Bargy said in a released statement. “Her legacy is one of incredible service to and caring for her community. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to know and learn from her.”

Proctors has long been a beneficiary of Johnson’s efforts, said Proctors CEO Philip Morris, who eulogized her at a celebration of her life in September. 

“This gift is sort of the cherry on top.”

The Schenectady Foundation, SUNY Schenectady County Community College and YWCA of NorthEastern NY also praised the bequests.

The gift will award $25,000 in scholarships to Schenectady students annually in perpetuity, building on a scholarship fund for city residents she previously created.

“She will always be remembered as a leader who dedicated so much of her life to bettering our community, and her extraordinary investment will ensure that so many students in Schenectady will receive the support they need to achieve their dreams for generations to come,” said Dr. Steady Moono, president of SUNY Schenectady County Community College.

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