From left: Irwin Engelman, Chairman, Board of Governors, HUC-JIR; Richard Michael Powell, 2011 Inductee, Board of Governors, HUC-JIR; Joan B. Seidel, 2011 Inductee, Board of Governors, HUC-JIR; Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR
Richard Michael Powell was inducted onto the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) on February 7, 2011 in Los Angeles.
"An esteemed mentor and member of the Advisory Board of our School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, Rick Powell will help strengthen our institution through his expertise in business, fundraising, Jewish communal activism, and philanthropy," stated Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President. "His counsel and vision will be indispensable in realizing our goals of excellence and service to the Reform Movement and the Jewish People."
Powell was born in Los Angeles and now resides in Santa Monica, CA. Following his graduation from Hamilton High School, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Woodbury University, a private Los Angeles college. While attending Woodbury University, Powell started a business with his father, furniture veteran Larry Powell, creating The L. Powell Company.
After leading the highly successful family business for almost thirty years as both President and Chief Operating Officer, Powell was instrumental in selling The L. Powell Company to a private investment group in 1999. Powell stayed on as CEO until 2001, at which point he resigned after a long and profitable tenure, bringing The Powell Company’s annual sales to $150 million. Powell remained on the Board and was asked to return as interim CEO in 2002. In March 2004, Powell became Chairman of The L. Powell Company. In 2007, the company was sold again and Powell stepped down as Chairman.
Powell is currently President of Ashjer, LLC, where he devotes his time to assisting non-profit organizations raise money. He is a consultant to private companies and serves on numerous boards and committees, including the HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Advisory Board.
Powell is a Board Member at Jewish Family Services, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and serves on the MBA Mentoring Program Committee at American Jewish University. He is the Co-Founder of the Mitchell E. Gordon Memorial Fund for the California Special Olympics. He served as Chairman of the Board of Governors at Cedars Sinai, Member of the Board of Directors at the Jewish Federation, and Member of the Board of Directors at Jonsson Cancer Center Board.
While building his business and conducting his philanthropic activities, Powell coached Little League baseball for 15 years with the Rancho Park Little League Association, serving as a Board Member, Officer, and President during his tenure.
In 1982, Powell co-founded Concern II for Cancer Research. Concern II pioneered fundraising among young people, age 18-40, in the area of cancer immunology, specializing in pediatric cancer. Concern II merged with Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by his parents and 14 other couples, to become one of the most successful charities in the country, raising over $40 million for cancer research.
In 1989, Powell joined the Board of Directors for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), serving as First Vice President prior to his election as Board President in 2003. He spearheaded an aggressive development and outreach campaign to the business community, supporting the agency’s expansion into new and innovative arenas. Powell’s term as President ended in 2007. He is still actively involved with this important organization. In January 2010, Powell and his wife, Debbie, and his parents, Joyce and Larry, were honored with the JVS Lifetime of Service Award, “Two Generations Making a Difference.” The event raised over $1.2 million for JVS.
Powell has been instrumental in bringing fundraising activities to the furniture industry by being honored through City of Hope. He encouraged his sales staff and customers to make a difference by sponsoring fundraising activities at furniture markets across the country.
Powell’s wife Debbie and their children, Jeremy and Ashley, contribute their time and effort to various non-profit organizations. Debbie is a successful event planner and owner of Hold The Date, along with partners Anne Barnett and Rusty Feldman.