By Marla Meyers
On September 13th, 64 members of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life descended on D.C. for a two-day meeting packed with information and inspiration. Four of our colleagues, Rabbi David Levy (Colgate), Rabbi Ari Israel (University of Maryland), Rabbi Danielle Leshaw (Ohio University), and Rabbi Jeff Summit (Tufts), joined me for a warm welcome as we were initiated as new members of the Board of Directors. Michele Blumenberg (University of Arizona), a veteran member of the Board of Directors, was unable to attend.
It is exciting to share with you that this is the largest group of field professionals that has ever been elected to the Board of Directors. Our goal is to bring a strong voice from the field and to initiate conversations that will impact the services that we provide every day.
The Board of Directors, led by our talented and energized chair, Bea Mandel of Los Angeles, is made up of a fine group of dedicated and committed leaders from across the country. Many sit on their local Hillel boards, many have ties to their local Federation or UJC, and some are parents of current college students. What they all have in common is that they come to Hillel with a simple, yet deep passion for the young Jewish population. Their interest in our collective work is intense and directed. They see themselves as advocates for the local campuses and champions for the entire enterprise.
While the numerous themes of the meeting focused on Hillel’s strategic initiatives including: Campus Partnerships, Campus Advancement, Core Campus Services, Campus Operations, Human Resources, and Institutional Advancement, the underlying theme was one of partnership and excellence. It was impressive to see how the issues faced by the local campuses were delicately woven into each meeting, creating a spirit of joint venture. It was equally impressive to see the level of knowledge that board members have regarding our local Hillels and their intense desire to make a difference “on the ground.”
A special highlight of the meeting included the arrival of three Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative (CEI) Interns who greeted board members during Sunday evening’s dinner. The Campus Entrepreneurs also engaged in conversation with us during the evening program which included a CEI-styled workshop on relationships and a tutorial on REACH, Hillel’s relationship-tracking software. Their student perspective was a welcome addition and one that board members found to be integral to their understanding of Hillel operations.
Many of us have signed on to be professional leaders for the collegiate population because we believe deeply and passionately that we are making a distinct difference in the history of our people. Rest assured, our lay leaders have signed on for the same reason. They give a lot, and as many shared with me during the downtime between sessions, they “get far more in return.” And, friends, that is a statement that can surely resonate with so many of us.
Shana tovah to you and your loved ones. Feel free to reach out with any comments or questions to David Levy, Danielle Leshaw, Ari Israel, Jeff Summit, Michelle Blumenberg or me.
Marla Meyers is Associate Executive Director, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and a member of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. She may be reached at email@example.com