A Game-Changing Gift

Saint Barnabas Medical Center enters a new era as Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.

Saint Barnabas Medical Center, in Livingston, is changing its name! It will now be known as Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, thanks to an extraordinarily generous gift from the Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation.

The Coopermans, philanthropists who have donated to the medical center many times in the past, have given the hospital a $100 million gift—the largest donation ever made to a New Jersey hospital.

“I consider it an honor to have my family name associated with Saint Barnabas, to provide vital services to the community,” says Leon Cooperman, 78. “I’m 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 healthcare in the community that has given so much to our family.”

“This gift from Leon and Toby Cooperman is transformational,” says Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, the health system to which Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center belongs. “The donation 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.”

Ostrowsky says that the medical center’s strategic plan, which the donation will accelerate, includes new facilities, the recruitment of new clinicians and the expansion of academic teaching and social programs. “Equally important is the fact that the Coopermans believe in what we do,” Ostrowsky says. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

Community Ties

Leon and Toby Cooperman have deep roots in the area around the medical center.

The couple raised their two sons in Essex County. Toby Cooperman is a retired special education teacher, having worked with neurologically impaired children at the Early Childhood Learning Center in Chatham. She’s a strong advocate for people with developmental disabilities, and a board member of many nonprofit organizations, including Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled, JCC MetroWest and JESPY House in South Orange.

“Saint Barnabas has always come through for us and the community,” says Toby, “and we would like to continue expanding the services so that more and more people can benefit.”

In doing so, they are continuing an impressive legacy of giving. In 2014, their $25 million gift enabled the medical center to build a new five-story medical building. The new structure, named the Cooperman Family Pavilion, opened in 2017 with new private rooms, nursing units and operating suites, a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit, a parking garage and a new two-story lobby. “When someone says to me that he or she had an incredible experience at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, it’s not difficult to track that gratitude back to the philanthropy of the Cooperman family,” says Ostrowsky.

A Self-Made Man

Leon Cooperman wasn’t born wealthy. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Cooperman grew up in the South Bronx, attended New York City public schools, and was the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Cooperman attended Hunter College, a public university in New York City, planning to become a dentist. He met Toby in a French class during his sophomore year. Their first date was the junior prom, and they married in 1964, the same year they graduated.

Barely a week into dental school, Cooperman realized that the career wasn’t right for him. He returned to Hunter to study economics, eventually attending Columbia Business School and earning an MBA degree. His first job after graduation was at financial firm Goldman Sachs, where he stayed for 25 years, becoming general partner and chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

In 1981, while Cooperman was still employed at Goldman Sachs, he and Toby formed their philanthropic foundation.

Ten years later, Cooperman left Goldman Sachs to found Omega Advisors, which became one of the country’s largest hedge funds, amassing nearly $10 billion in assets. In 2018 Cooperman decided to return investors’ money and focus on managing his personal wealth, including the work of his family’s foundation.

Now, thanks to the groundbreaking gift, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center will be poised to provide an even greater level of care.

“The generous gift from Leon and Toby Cooperman and their family will not only help us to attract and retain world-class clinicians, but it will also propel us to build the buildings and house all of the technology to take Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center well into the future,” says Richard Davis, President and CEO, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.

Plans like these are just what the Coopermans had in mind when they made their incredibly generous donation.

“Hospitals need and deserve the support of private citizens to ensure patients have access to excellent health care and the latest advancements in medical technology,” says Leon. “Hopefully this level of giving will inspire other people to step forward. I know we’re doing the right thing.”

Learn about how you can support Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.