Saint Barnabas Medical Center receives $100 million from Cooperman family

Photo Courtesy of Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
From left are donors Toby and Leon Cooperman with Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health.

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Saint Barnabas Medical Center announced Sept. 30 that it has received a $100 million donation from the Cooperman Family Foundation and has renamed the hospital Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in honor of the family’s gift.

The donation is the largest ever given to any hospital in New Jersey and will allow the medical center to continue its ongoing transformation into a world-class health care institution that provides the highest quality and most advanced care available anywhere in the New York metropolitan region, according to a press release.

“The Cooperman family has helped us to become the renowned institution that we are today,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health. “Today’s generous gift from Leon and Toby Cooperman is transformational and ensures that our medical center will continue to develop as a state-of-the art medical campus and a leader in protecting and supporting the health of the community.”

Leon and Toby Cooperman, who lived and raised their family in Essex County, have an extensive history of philanthropy and previously donated more than 100 times to the medical center, including a $25 million gift in 2014 that provided the catalyst for a vast expansion of the hospital. In 2017, a $200 million, five-story, 241,000-square-foot medical building with 114 private rooms and a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit was named the Cooperman Family Pavilion in their honor.

“Leon and his family recognize that there is absolutely nothing that is more important to a community than quality health care,” CBMC board Chairperson Bruce Schonbraun said. “We know this historic gift and the naming of the Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center will be inspirational to others. This is a game-changer for us.”

The Coopermans’ gift to the medical center is their largest donation to any institution and caps off a decade-long period of generosity that escalated in 2010 after Leon and Toby Cooperman took The Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that encourages the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to donate a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

“I am at the point in my life where I want my gifts to have real impact, and I could think of no better way to do that than to make this investment in health care in the community that has given so much to our family,” Leon Cooperman said. “The pandemic has shown us that heroes are working in our hospitals every day, and I’m honored to help support their work.”

Though Leon Cooperman is among the most successful financiers on Wall Street, he comes from humble roots. He was raised in the South Bronx by Jewish immigrants who fled from Poland to escape the Holocaust; his father was a plumber. Leon Cooperman attended the New York City public school system and became the first in his family to attend college, enrolling at Hunter College, then called Lehman, of the City University of New York with the intention of becoming a dentist. He met his wife in French class at the college and they married the same year they graduated, in 1964.

After his first job at Xerox, Leon Cooperman earned his MBA from Columbia University. He then spent 25 years at Goldman Sachs, rising to general partner, chairperson and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He retired in 1991 and started Omega Advisors, a New York–based hedge fund that amassed nearly $10 billion in assets.

Toby Cooperman has spent her life advocating on behalf of people with developmental disabilities. She retired from a career as a special-education specialist at the Early Childhood Learning Center in Chatham. She has served as a board member of the JCC Metrowest for more than 30 years and as an officer and board member of Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled and JESPY House. In addition, she has served as a board member of the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the former Theresa Grotta Rehabilitation Center, and numerous other organizations.

“Hospitals like this one need and deserve the support of private citizens to ensure patients have access to excellent health care and the latest advancements in medical technology,” Leon Cooperman said. “I encourage others to follow my lead if they are able to do so.”