By Elizabeth Schuman
There are naming rights—think stadiums, museums, hospital wings—and then there is … naming right. I’m going to talk about naming right. Take, for example, this year’s Nov. 30 ASSOCIATED Women’s event.
This is what we knew from the onset: The event would bring together women to discuss and weigh in on issues relevant to our community. Our team included committed, talented lay leaders to chair and serve on the committee. The crowning touch? We had Kathy Manning, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, as our keynote speaker.
Choosing the right event name stumped us. Initially, we zeroed in on words like celebrate, build, connect. All good words, yes, but not quite right. Then we realized: The evening and talk would focus on what ASSOCIATED Women accomplish now and what we can do together to get to the next step. With a not-so-subtle nod to Helen Reddy, we realized that our purpose was about our shared strength—our roar. A title was born: Strong Women. Strong Deeds. Creating Community Together.
Certainly, we recognized that Kathy Manning lives at the forefront of it all. As the first woman to chair JFNA, one of the top 10 charities in North America, she leads 157 Jewish federations and 400 smaller communities without federations in raising some $3 billion annually. Mother of three adult children, ages 19, 22, and 25, and a litigation and immigration lawyer in North Carolina, she’s taken a career sabbatical to focus on her Federation responsibilities.
I wanted to find out more about Kathy than what is written on her official bio. So, I called her.
I learned that her volunteerism and fundraising isn’t new. One of her earliest memories is “raising money for an orphan named Daphne living somewhere overseas” during elementary school. One of her first Federation experiences in North Carolina was leading Operation Exodus, the campaign to help Jews leave the former Soviet Union. Over time, she built her volunteer resume, adding accomplishment after accomplishment.
“I believe in the power of numbers. When you work within the Federation system as a team, you can accomplish much more to help the larger Jewish community than individually,” she said and emphasized the important of moving away from one’s comfort zone. “Meeting others with different perspectives and vantage points only makes the end result better.”
Looking outward, Kathy seeks to make the Jewish community a welcoming place for people at every stage of their Jewish journey.
“We need to make sure that the Federation system reaches all people, including those who have left us and those who never decided to enter – all are invited to come in,” she says.
Of the work ahead, which includes significant travel to speak to Jewish communities across the country, she’s pragmatic, citing sage advice offered to her: “When your tenure is finished, you’ll never be satisfied and able to say, ‘I did too much.’ You’ll always wish you did more.’
On November 30, Kathy will share her personal journey, and offer insight into the impact of volunteerism and the ability of women to effect change locally, nationally and globally. It’s an incredible opportunity to hear firsthand about the power of what we can do together.
In other words, our strength.
Strong Women. Strong Deeds. Creating Community Together.
It’s the right name after all.