Harold Cotton


It is said of Harold Cotton that he was as committed to his avocation, that of devoting time, skills, and resources to the Jewish community, as he was to his vocations, that of a businessman and financier.   The fruits of his life's work in these areas are his legacies of institution building, inspirational community leadership, and the family's ongoing fund, the Harold Cotton Memorial Fund.


Harold was much more than a philanthropist; he was a dynamic chairman, drawing young people in the community to work alongside him. He was an original thinker, always looking to the future, worrying about where the Jewish community in Worcester was headed, and what changes were needed to keep it viable and vital.  Harold was a man of great intelligence and talent who had a marvelous aura of excitement.  A friend said of him,  “He was our mentor…He made me be a person I didn’t know I could be. That was the quality of his leadership.”


Harold’s lasting concern was for the future leadership of his beloved institutions, so when his family wanted to memorialize him, the choice was easy.  The Harold Cotton Young Leadership Program has been created to educate and inspire future leaders who will have the skills, knowledge, and commitment to shape our community.  Every other year, a group of 12-15 young people embark on an 8-month journey in search of more Jewish knowledge and understanding of the local and global Jewish issues.  The participants, who are carefully chosen from a long list of nominees, come together to participate in a high level series of programs facilitated by experts in their fields.   At the end of the program, the graduates are placed in leadership positions at the Federation, its agencies, and synagogues throughout Central Massachusetts.


Harold Cotton would have wanted to enable new projects, and the fund in his memory is making it happen. There is no better way to remember and honor community builder and generous philanthropist Harold Cotton and to keep his vision alive.