Steven Rosenblum

Steven Rosenblum chats with Nikki Goldstein, executive director of Crown Center for Senior Living. Rosenblum is immediate past president of Crown Center, where he continues to volunteer and serve on the board. Photos: Kristi Foster

BY PATRICIA CORRIGAN, Special to the Light

In his back yard, Steven Rosenblum grows vegetables and herbs. As a founder of the Clayton Community Garden, along with 20 other families he grows more of the same. But perhaps Rosenblum’s most formidable nurturing skills are on display when he tends relationships. 

By day, Rosenblum assists individuals who want to help secure the future of the world-class St. Louis Zoo, where Rosenblum has headed the Planned Gifts program since 2005. He serves on the board at Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel Congregation, where he helped initiate a concerted fund-raising program and is co-chair of the “Create a Jewish Legacy” program.

And for more than a decade, Rosenblum has served on the board at Crown Center for Senior Living. “Steven is the ultimate matchmaker,” said Nikki Goldstein, executive director at Crown Center. “He knows so many people and has so many networks—Steve just excels at developing relationships between people and causes, excels at both fund raising and ‘friend raising.’ He has devoted himself to encouraging others to volunteer in support of our cause.”

Before taking the job at the Zoo, Rosenblum, a native St. Louisan, worked as director of planned gifts at Washington University, where he earned his law degree in 1992. Prior to that job, Rosenblum worked as director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and before that, he was manager of corporate and foundation support for the St. Louis Symphony.


Rosenblum readily acknowledges his professional strengths. “I love to help people figure out how to help,” Rosenblum said. “I love connecting people, finding an organization with a need and then finding somebody I know who would have a passion for that organization.”

He continued, “Particularly with planned giving, I’m not just trying to get a $100 donation. A lot of times, individuals are preparing to make their largest gift ever, a gift that will live on long after them—and that takes timing and a lot of planning.”

Rosenblum’s first experience with raising funds came as he was finishing law school. “My last semester, I lived in Washington, D.C., where I worked for a political consulting firm doing fund-raising work for Senator Jay Rockefeller,” said Rosenblum. “That’s when I got the bug.”

Rosenblum’s history with Crown Center actually began long ago, when his mother, the late Myla Rosenblum, served as the president of the board in the 1980s at the complex, which then was known as the Delcrest. “When a friend first asked me to join the board at Crown, I didn’t realize at first that she was talking about the old Delcrest,” Rosenblum said. “The center had been through a name change and rebranding in the late 1990s.” 

Once he sorted out the name change, Rosenblum was definitely interested. And just as his mother took Rosenblum to the Delcrest with her, he makes sure his three sons—ages 10, 8 and 5—make time to go to Crown Center to help serve meals, take part in holiday meals or just to visit. “The boys tell people they volunteer at Crown, and I love that,” he said. 

Today, Rosenblum is immediate past president at Crown Center. When he first joined the board in 2004, no one had done any outside fund raising or initiated any  big campaigns. “Right away, we started the Friends of Crown Center. Now Crown is raising $70,000 a year though that campaign. We also moved to get major gifts for specific projects from corporations and foundations,” said Rosenblum. “And we started a Legacy Society so people could leave money to Crown in their wills.”

What is the secret to successful fund raising?

“The best way to get anyone to really understand is to bring them to the place, whether it’s the Zoo, Crown Center or Hanley House,” Rosenblum said. The latter is an historic home said to be the oldest house in Clayton, which is now supported through the Clayton Century Foundation, another of Rosenblum’s projects.  

“I bring people to Crown Center so they can see what’s there, see how active the seniors are, see how the programming works,” Rosenblum said. “When they see someone sending an email to a grandchild from the computer center, or watch the bell choir practicing or observe people watching a movie and relaxing, it’s easy to sell the idea of giving.”

At BSKI, Rosenblum talks up the Jewish Legacy program, which attracted 200 donors last year. “When you set up a meaningful gift for after you’re gone, that gift leaves your legacy, your stamp, on a place that was important to you in life,” Rosenblum said. He noted that it’s not hard getting people to visit the Zoo.

And in spite of the struggling economy, people still want to give, Rosenblum said. “The Clayton Century Foundation has raised two million dollars from corporations to help the city of Clayton with public art, to preserve history, to sustain parks and to pay for extra stuff that the city can never find time to budget for,” he said. “There really are lots of folks who are very generous, who still want to give, folks who want to make a difference.”

As his children get older and he has more free time, Rosenblum suspects he will be drawn back to politics. “I may start in local politics, but eventually I would like to get involved on the national level,” he said. “I’ve always envisioned helping out in a bigger way—but that’s for later, not now.”

Asked why he would wait, the busy “master gardener” laughed and added, “My wife says right now I cannot say ‘yes’ to anyone else.” 

Steven Rosenblum

AGE:  45

FAMILY:   Married to Andrea, a mortgage broker;  three sons

HOME:  Clayton

OCCUPATION:  Director of Planned Gifts at the St. Louis Zoo

FAVORITE PASTIMES: Gardening, raising chickens, reading