Kathy E. Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America will be the guest speaker at The Women’s Philanthropy Department of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts’ Rose Luncheon on Friday, May 13 at Chez Josef in Agawam at 11 a.m. Sue Kline, past president of the Jewish Federation and current director of Create a Jewish Legacy, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, will be this year’s honoree. The Rose Luncheon, named for its first honoree, Rose Corbert, was established to pay tribute to outstanding Jewish women who have committed their lives to volunteering in the greater Springfield community.
Manning, of Greensboro, N.C., is first woman to hold the top leadership position in the Federation system. She chaired the CEO Search Committee, which successfully recruited Jerry Silverman, the new CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America (formerly UJC).
Manning is the immediate past chair of the Executive Committee, and previously served as chair of the Budget & Finance Committee and as treasurer. She is a past chair of the Small Federation Steering Committee and of the HSSP Public Policy and Legislation Committee. She is also a former member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet and a recipient of the Young Leadership Award. She is a past president of the Greensboro Jewish Federation and has served as chair of the Greensboro Jewish Federation Annual Campaign, co-chair of the Operation Exodus Campaign, and chair of Women’s Cabinet. She has twice served as the chair of the Board of Trustees of the B’nai Shalom Synagogue Day School. She is on the boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, where she chairs the Development Committee, and of the University of North Carolina Center for Jewish Studies.
She is an attorney specializing in immigration law at her own firm, Manning & Associates, PLLC, in Greensboro. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Manning recently spoke to the Jewish Ledger about the goals and concerns of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Q: First, can you tell me what you will be talking about at the Rose Luncheon of the Western Mass. Jewish Federation?
A: I have been asked to speak about how women can make a difference in the federation system.
Q: You come from a small Jewish Federation in North Carolina. How does it compare to the Federation in Western Massachusetts?
A: I have never visited the Springfield federation before, so I can’t compare it with my own community of Greensboro NC. I suspect I will find that our communities have much in common, with dedicated volunteers working hard to make our small communities vibrant places to live Jewishly, and working on behalf of Jews in need around the world and in support of Israel. I do have several good friends in Springfield whom I have gotten to know through the federation system. If they are representative of their community, I know I am in for a treat.
Q: It is no secret that Jewish Federations have been hurting financially. Can you tell me the state of Federations around the country?
A: Federations across the country are working hard to raise money during these difficult times to meet the increased local and international needs. While a few federations have been particularly hurt by the economy and the Madoff scandal, there are many success stories out there. My own federation has created a jobs networking committee that has helped 72 Greensboro residents find employment this year. Many of the large federations have set up special fundraising and new programs to address the increased local needs.
Q: Is the head office helping to provide services for Federations around the country to help them in their fundraising efforts or with other operational efforts?
A: One of the primary goals of The Jewish Federations of North America is to help the federations be the best they can be. We help federations by providing outstanding skills enhancement and informational programs for federation professionals and volunteers. We have a special grant program that is available to smaller federations to obtain consulting assistance on operational issues. We have also had seminars over the past year helping communities determine when mergers might be the best option for federations or for agencies. We also create donor affinity groups to give donors across the country the opportunity to gather together to learn about the needs and to see how the money we raise can make a difference. Our Lion of Judah affinity group for women donors, which meets for biannual conferences, has missions to Israel, shares information and best practices, is a great example of a very successful affinity group. Our Young Leadership Cabinet also provides value to the federations by training young leaders, and recently had an outstanding conference in Las Vegas called Tribefest, which was attended by more than 1,300 Jews ages 25-45. Our Planned Giving Department has valuable programs to help federations enhance their abilities to secure endowments, and we recently had an Investment Institute that was a sold out event. Our Washington Office helps federations secure federal funding for social welfare needs, advocates on behalf of services for the elderly and needy, and works to protect the tax deductibility of charitable dollars. We also provide speakers to federations for their fundraising events and have highly qualified teams of lay leaders who go to communities to assist with solicitor training and fundraising. In addition, we have a website that is available to federations.
Q: Has the main office had to cut back at all?
A: Yes, JFNA has cut its budget and its staff extensively over the past several years.
Q: When you look down the road, what do you see as the future focus of the Jewish Federations of North America and all of its federations…more emphasis on local Jewish communities, or continued focus on Israel?
A: We will continue to focus on building strong Jewish communities locally and around the globe. We endeavor to take care of Jews in need where ever they are, to enable our elderly to live in dignity, to educate our children Jewishly and to build a strong Israel and strong connections between Israelis and Jews in the diaspora. One major focus going forward will be working to engage young Jews with Judaism and with Israel. The federation system is a major funder of birthright, an amazing program for connecting young Jews with Israel and Judaism. We are working on post-birthright programs and creative ways to engage other next generation Jews.
Q: What are some of the hot spots around the world that Federation is focusing on? Are there any Jewish communities in the chaos of what is happening now in the Middle East?
A: Our partner agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, are in contact with Jewish communities in troubled areas and stand ready to assist those communities should they need help. We have helped Jews in Yemen, in Tunisia and in other areas of conflict. We continue to work to bring the remaining Falash Mura in Ethiopia to Israel. Our partners also assist with food relief for elderly Jews in the Former Soviet Union.
For more information about the Rose Luncheon, contact Debbie Peskin, Women’s Philanthropy Director, at (413) 737-4313, ext. 121.