PHOTO: New board chair Mindy Zeitzer speaks at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. With in-person events again possible, the Federation will finally host its L'Chaim Gala celebrating a century of doing good this October (see details below).
BY DEBORAH MOON
Mindy Zeitzer, the new board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, brings a wealth of experience and a lifelong commitment to Jewish community to her new role.
Lay and professional leaders speak of her passion and deep understanding of the community’s agencies, needs and donors.
“Mindy is the complete package, a positive and happy person who has strong contacts with our donors, our agencies, our volunteers and the Federation team,” says Jack Birnbach, who has worked alongside Mindy on the Federation Allocations Committee for two years. “She will be an inspirational board chair.”
“She understands our 18 partner agencies, their leaders and those that they serve,” he says.
Mindy and Mark Zeitzer moved to Portland from Philadelphia 14 years ago. They both grew up active in the Jewish community of Phoenix, where their fathers each served as president of their synagogue. Mindy has been an active member and leader of the Jewish community her whole life, attending religious school through high school and holding positions on regional boards for BBYO and Hillel. In Portland, she has taken many leadership roles.
“The Jewish community is such a part of my identity and my family’s identity,” says Mindy. “It’s where we call home – the Jewish community is always our first place to connect. … Neveh Shalom is our synagogue, where we connect religiously. And we’re involved parents at Portland Jewish Academy, where our kids are getting a foundation for Jewish education. … But to me, the Jewish Federation connects the dots and represents the community as a whole.”
“Mindy is an outstanding leader for our community,” says JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner. “She has a wealth of experience from years on the Jewish Federation Board, and more importantly, she has served as both Campaign Chair and Allocations Chair. She has a tremendous understanding of the breadth of our work. I look forward to partnering with her in the years ahead.”
JFGP Director of Community Planning & Allocations Caron Blau Rothstein agrees that chairing both campaign and allocations has provided Mindy with a very comprehensive understanding of Portland’s Jewish community and it challenges and opportunities.
“She has tremendous respect and understanding of our agencies,” says Caron. “I think that helps her be a good advocate for them and our community.”
Mindy and Mark co-chaired the Federation Campaign for three years before Mindy joined the Allocations Committee. All three of their sons began attending PJA at age 2. Noah, 15, graduated from eighth grade at PJA and now attends Ida B. Wells High School. Ari, 13, and Ezra 10, will both be in PJA’s middle school in the fall. Noah recently returned from a BBYO trip in Israel.
“The Zeitzers are not just leaders, they are consumers in the community,” adds Caron. “I think when a leader is also an active consumer, they understand better.”
“She is accessible, respectful and collaborative,” says Caron. “She is the whole package.”
In addition to her very active volunteer life, Mindy works full time at Linfield University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor of Nursing and the Director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. She also makes Shabbat dinner and challah every week, often gifting friends a loaf from that week’s baking.
Noting he is clearly biased after nearly 22 years of marriage, Mark says, “I feel the community is tremendously lucky to have her. She is not a person to do something halfheartedly. She is tremendously hardworking… and she feels very passionately about the things she takes on.”
Mark was friends with Mindy’s older brother in Phoenix and has known Mindy since he was 16 and she was 14. The two started dating when he was in medical school and she was in nursing school.
“She’s funny, she’s fun, she can be goofy and she’s super enthusiastic when she feels passionately about something, and it’s infectious,” he says. “So, she’s an awesome person to be on a board with because she’s enthusiastic, but at the same time, she takes responsibility very seriously.”
One thing Mindy is very excited about is the community study that begins in October. She says the comprehensive demographic data will enhance the deep insight she feels she has from allocations into the agencies and all the tremendous work they do and the struggles they face.
“We’re going to get a lot of information about who we are as a community and what our needs are,” she says. “That’s going to help us implement new and innovative programs or help some of the agencies offer things that we don’t already offer.”
Describing her leadership style, Mindy says, “I like to hear everybody. I think and process and then do. Ultimately, thinking and processing doesn’t move the needle. … With any change and innovation there’s always risks. We tweak and calculate after we implement, but we can’t problem-solve unless we come up with new and innovative ways and make things happen.”
Celebrate century of doing good Oct. 8
Oct. 8 promises to be an extraordinary night of community and celebration as the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland celebrates 100 years with its L’Chaim (to life) Gala at the Portland Art Museum, 6:45-11:30 pm.
The festive night features Patrick Lamb jazz quartet featuring Dan Balmer, cocktails, dinner, live music and dancing with Patrick Lamb & The Hit Factory. Celebrate the good that goes on everywhere in the Jewish community and help ensure our vibrant community continues for the next 100 years.
RSVP for the celebration by Sept. 22: jewishportland.org/galacelebration.