HomeJuly 2012Vibrant Vision

Vibrant Vision

Ruth Stafford Peale stated, “Find a need and fill it.”  Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS) found a need to engage and invest in Young Leadership Division (YLD), Orange County’s Jewish demographic of people in their 20s to 40s.  Six years ago, JFFS hired Jackie Menter to focus on this demographic and engage its constituents in Jewish communal life. Menter previously worked for American Jewish Committee before becoming director of professional philanthropy at Jewish Federation & Family Services.  Her vision of creating a more active and philanthropic community has resonated with OC’s lay leaders and grown to be an integral component of JFFS.
Menter’s vision has enriched the community as she continues to empower this age demographic.  She has created personal connections that not only expand membership, but provide depth and meaning.  These meaningful connections have produced strong leaders in Orange County’s Jewish community.
“Jackie has created an environment that enables Young Leadership to reach new heights,” said Frank Ellis, executive vice chair for Jewish Federation & Family Services and a past YLD president.  “She continues to balance the on-going needs of her organization with the greater vision of JFFS.  Her talents are many.  This is evident by an engaged Young Leadership and Young Leadership board.  When you combine passion, professionalism and Jewish ideals with an “eye on the prize” (engaging young “ish” Jews in our community to be involved and give back), you have Jackie Menter.”
Menter recognizes that in order to attract a variety of people to YLD events and activities, there must be multiple avenues of outreach.  With jobs, families, and obligations, YLD faces obstacles that consume community members’ time and resources.  Bryan Pepper, YLD’s chair and a prominent community member, stated, “Given our perpetually hectic and disjointed lives, without Jackie’s seemingly limitless energy, passion and enthusiasm for building community as well as philanthropy, YLD would not be able to reach and inspire so many young adults in our Jewish community.”
This reach comes through variation in programming; Menter is passionate about the outreach and philanthropy that has been able to flourish due to “clusters.”  Clusters are smaller groups that focus on specific interests and provide meaningful programming.  YLD has found an effective way to maintain regular attendance and active participation within these clusters: tennis, wine and cooking, hiking, JewGlue (a smaller board for the younger YLD demographic) and so on.  Recently, participants have approached YLD’s board in hopes of developing more clusters that will engage OC’s Jewish community.
Just in case YLD and its various clusters don’t keep her busy enough, Menter is also responsible for a number of other programs, including JewGlue, Social Action, Nefesh Minyan, Taglit-Birthright Israel, PJ Library, Young Families, Shalom Baby, Israel Missions Trips and the Ben Gurion Society.  All of these activities can be found on JFFS’s website as well as on Facebook, making it easier to communicate with such a broad audience.
It is clear that Menter’s programming strategies translate into Jewish giving.  In 2006 YLD’s participant list contained approximately 600 community members and raised $93,000 (84 donors).  In the past six years, YLD has developed connections with more community members and donors than ever before.  In 2011, the total money raised for philanthropic causes was $237,008 (185 donors).  Currently, the participant list contains 3,270 people.
Natalie Korthamar, a former University of California Irvine Hillel president, said, “Because of Jackie’s encouragement, I was motivated to actively participate and give back to this community that has given me so much.  “My involvement also made me aware of the good that JFFS does.  This compelled me to give my time to create meaningful programs for other young professionals and to encourage others to participate and give.  I am forever grateful for Jackie’s outreach and compassion.”
Menter shares with participants that giving means donating fiscal resources to replenish resources that they have utilized.  She recently was involved in hosting a JewGlue Cares Shabbat, held this June, bringing in $7,000 in additional donations, a thousand-dollar increase from the previous year.
YLD clearly needs active participants, meaningful programming, philanthropic contributions and lay leaders, but it has Menter’s direction, mentoring and humanism to ensure its success.  Menter has not only provided a milieu for the young professional demographic; she has created a Jewish communal legacy, a perpetual trend of giving and a Jewish home for OC residents.

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