Supporter Spotlight: The Lauder Family

The Lauder Family Stays Connected and Committed Through Scholarship Fund

Laura and Gary Lauder Cycling

When Laura and Gary Lauder first heard of Hausner, their oldest child, Josh, was still in diapers. He was born in 1995, and even though elementary school was a good few years away, the Lauders realized what a special school they had found. Then called the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School, Hausner already provided an excellent academic curriculum thoughtfully integrated with a values-based Jewish education. 

In 1995, Hausner was five years old and very small: 70 students, which is about the same number who are new to the school this fall. The Lauders felt so strongly about Hausner that when school leadership approached Laura to chair the capital campaign for a permanent building, she was happy to get involved. At that time Josh was only one and a half, and her daughter Eliana was still in utero. Laura chaired the first campaign to build the “Yellow School” on Arastradero Road, from 1996 – 1998. She presented to the 50 members of the Federation Endowment Fund for a $1M grant in May, 1997 with Eliana only 9 days old. Fortunately the Committee approved the grant even though the school was barely 7 years old. After a successful $8 million campaign, Hausner remained in the Yellow School for several years before moving to San Antonio Road in 2003.

In 2003, chairman of the board David Arfin invited the Lauders to rename the school in recognition of their early and generous support. They suggested the school be named for Gideon Hausner, a cousin of Evelyn Hausner Lauder, Gary’s mother, and an Israeli lawyer and public official who served as Attorney General of Israel as well as a member of Knesset. Gideon Hausner dedicated his life to justice and championed Holocaust education.

During the time that Josh and Eliana attended Hausner, Laura’s father, Bill Heller, was a fixture on campus. He picked up the kids on most days, engaging them, the staff, and former Head of School Gerry Elgarten in lively conversation. Hausner’s gym, the Susan and Bill Heller Athletic Facility, is named in honor of Susan and Bill’s deep commitment as Jewish grandparents, to the school.

When Rabbi Danny Lehmann interviewed for his position as Head of School, Laura participated in the process. She asked Danny what his top priorities were, and he responded, “We need to make an excellent Jewish education available and affordable to ensure economic, cultural and geographic diversity in this community, one of the most expensive in the country.” When he officially took the job, Laura and Danny reconnected and Laura hadn’t forgotten his number one goal.  “We will help you launch a Scholarship Endowment to make Hausner the very best it can be – and available to all. ” Just a few months later, with an inspiring $2.5 million gift from Laura, Gary, and Gary’s father, Leonard Lauder, the school is now in the process of exploring the development of a robust endowment campaign. 

After all these years, the Lauders still want to help the school, and in doing so hope to encourage other families, even those whose kids and grandkids graduated long ago, to reconnect and continue their support of Hausner. 

With the dedicated support and involvement of our cherished community of Hausner families new and old, current and long graduated, the school continues to deliver and expand upon its promise of nurturing both personal growth and academic achievement, and of inspiring a love of learning, creative thinking, and joyful Jewish living.

Laura and Gary Lauder outdoors