A Legacy of Philanthropy: Marcella Brenner

Legacy Giving: Crescendo Society

Marcella Brenner: Exemplifying the True Meaning of Philanthropy

photo of donor Marcella BrennerWithout seeking recognition, Dr. Marcella Brenner devoted her life to education and the arts. As a significant donor to Levine and a member of the Crescendo Society, our legacy giving group, Dr. Brenner created our first fund for faculty development, provided major scholarship funding to help students who could not otherwise afford a Levine education, and funded facilities improvements and instrument purchases at Levine’s campuses.  Her vision, encouragement, and support were instrumental in Levine’s growth into the institution it is today.

Born in Baltimore in 1912 and a long-time resident of Washington, D.C., Dr. Brenner was first and foremost a great teacher. She had a long career as an elementary school teacher and a school principal, and received her Ed.D. from George Washington University.  Dr. Brenner began teaching at the University in 1964, and ten years later founded and directed the master’s program in Museum Education at GWU.

As a life-long educator, Dr. Brenner understood the creative process and valued the commitment of outstanding teachers. She believed in the importance of continuing education for growing and nurturing their talent, and in the impact that innovative teaching can have on the educational experience of students. Her conviction led her to establish the Abner and Marcella Brenner Fund for Faculty Development at Levine, as part of her estate plans. The Brenner Fund allows Levine to annually offer professional development grants to our distinguished faculty artists, so that they may attend workshops, conferences, and courses to improve skills, learn new curriculum approaches or teaching techniques, and develop new performance ideas. Past projects made possible by the Brenner Fund include: a CD of songs performed by Levine’s First Music faculty; instrument repair instruction to help a faculty artist learn to repair donated string instruments for use by our students; and workshops lead by a Levine instructor to teach other faculty members to use the computer program Garageband in classroom instruction.

Marcella believed that philanthropy was a community obligation. To her grandchildren, and by example to others, she taught that it was not just giving that mattered, but engaging with the organizations and communities you support. Levine will forever be grateful for her enthusiasm to make the world a better place through education.

Learn More about how to become a member of the Crescendo Society