By Subie Banaszynski, NFTY Director
The NFTY staff continues to amaze me with their talent and skills. As a whole, the regional NFTY staff is not only on the ground, they are youth professionals at the head of the table. A few interesting facts: Among our regional staff, five hold masters degrees and three are in school working towards their masters. We have three staff who hold the Certificate in Adolescents and Emerging Adults from HUC-JIR – and another one currently in the program. Six of our regional staff spent significant time at Kutz this summer, and for Mechina (NFTY Board Meeting and Leadership Training) we had 21 members of our NFTY team at Kutz. One of our staff even spent two weeks in Nicaragua staffing our Mitzvah Corps program!
Through the help of our NFTY staff, Kutz Camp had more than 190 teen participants in the Summer Leadership Experience. Under the direction of Melissa Frey, Kutz Camp Director and NFTY Associate Director, our NFTY staff was involved with overall programming, teaching majors, working with visiting faculty and helping with the camp-based Mitzvah Corps program.
Across North America we have collaborated with more organizations this past year than we have in many years. We partnered with the following organizations on specific projects in several communities: BBYO, USY, NCSY, JCUA and JSU/JSC, JUF, College Consulting Company, Hillel and local youth professional organizations. These relationships did not happen by accident; or teens and our staff approached these partners with intention.
A few of our staff have been publicly recognized for their work. Logan Zinman, Regional Director of Youth Engagement (Chicago Area Region) was one of “36 under 36” Jewish Chicagoans named “Double Chai in the Chi”. This list spotlights Chicago’s young Jewish leaders and recognizes the amazing contributions of this generation. You might remember Beth Avner Rodin, NFTY Director of Education & Special Projects was named one of the 36 last year!
At the semi-annual NFTY Board Meeting, Evan Traylor presented 4 NFTY President’s Awards. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ, Becca Wolchok, former NFTY/Kutz Program Assistant, Beth Rodin and I were all recipients of this honor. When our teens recognize our work, it means that much more.
In less than a week our entire staff will come together to learn, study, pray and plan for the year ahead. I believe we have a great year ahead of us with our dedicated NFTY staff.