Jeffrey Vega, the president and CEO of the Princeton Area Community Foundation since 2015, died Sunday Penn Medicine Princeton Health after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was 56.
“The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees and staff mourn his loss, and we extend our deepest condolences to Jeff’s family,” said Sonia Delgado, chairwoman of the foundation’s board of trustees.
“Jeff was an exceptional leader and a wonderful man, who was deeply committed to making a difference in our communities,” Delgado said. “He dedicated his career to helping others. This is an enormous loss.”
Vega, who lived in Monroe with his family for the past 22 years, had a talent for working with local communities. He also helped grow the organization’s assets and expand its grantmaking. Under his leadership, the foundation commissioned reports and convened community engagement sessions that shaped the foundation’s initiative to improve the lives of underserved children and young people in the region.
Under Vega’s leadership, the organization created its signature strategic grantmaking initiative, All Kids Thrive, a five-year, $3 million investment in a partnership of schools and nonprofits to help increase student attendance rates.
The foundation also created new partnerships with the Burke Foundation and Janssen to award community impact grants to nonprofits that help under-resourced people in the region.
Vega also oversaw the creation of the foundation’s COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund, which awarded more than $3.5 million to more than 70 nonprofits in the region.
During Vega’s tenure, the foundation’s charitable assets grew to more than $250 million. The foundation has awarded a total of $200 million in grants since its founding in 1991, including more than $50 million in the last three years.
Foundation CFO and COO Laura Longman, who has worked for the organization for more than a decade, was appointed to serve as acting president and CEO last week when Vega took a medical leave of absence from the organization.
“Jeff was dedicated to our organization, to our communities, and especially to his family. His wife, Angie, their son, Nico, and his extended family are in our thoughts during this incredibly difficult time,” Longman said. “We also want to assure our partners in the community that we will honor his memory through our commitment to our mission of promoting philanthropy to advance the well-being of our communities forever.”
Vega, a Newark native, spent 22 years at New Brunswick Tomorrow, including 14 as its president, before joining the Princeton Area Community Foundation. A graduate of Irvington High School, he earned bachelor’s degrees in human ecology, international environmental studies, and urban studies from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in political science and public policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers.
He loved watching and playing tennis and enjoyed cooking and wine. The most important thing to Jeffrey was spending time with his family and friends, especially his wife and their son.
He is preceded in death by his father, Lazaro Vega. Jeffrey is survived by his wife, Angela Klizos, and his son Nico Vega of Monroe; his mother, Nelly Davila-Berroa of Edison; his two sisters, Lizette Velez of Highland Park and Alexzza Iturri of Edison; his niece, Sabrina Velez; and his nephews, Elijah Santigo, Luis Velez, and Gabriel. Also surviving are his many extended family members and friends.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, and 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 2 at the M. David DeMarco Funeral Home, Inc. at 205 Rhode Hall Rd. in Monroe Township. Funeral services will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Friday from the funeral home. A funeral liturgy will be at 10 a.m. at the Nativity of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church at 185 Applegarth Road in Monroe Township, followed by committal and interment in Holy Cross Burial Park in South Brunswick.
In lieu of flowers and for those who desire, memorial donations can be made to The Jeffery M. Vega Memorial Endowment at The Princeton Area Community Foundation. Gifts can be made online at www.pacf.org/vegamemorial