Federation's Annual Meeting — What's In It For You?

Chances are you’ve never been to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Annual Meeting. That’s okay – neither have the co-chairs of this year’s meeting, Natalie and Drew Zamansky. We talked to Natalie and Drew about what you can expect if you join them August 15 at 7 pm in the JCC theatre for Federation’s 82nd Annual Meeting. 
81 annual meetings and you haven’t bothered to attend any of them? What’s your excuse, and what made you decide to chair this meeting?
Well, the first 70 or so are out of our hands! Our excuse for the rest of them is that we frankly didn’t know much about Federation beyond the social activities that we enjoyed so much. About 6 months ago, we got involved with the Harry Kay Leadership Training Institute, and once we learned about the issues that face us as a Jewish community we started to realize how little we knew about Federation and what they do. And if we didn’t know, we assume our friends and peers have no idea either! We want to share our knowledge in a genuine way by being leaders in the community, so when we were asked to chair the Annual Meeting we were happy to do it.
Okay, maybe you’re off the hook. Why do you think TC Jewfolk’s readers should come to this meeting?
It’s important for the younger members of our community to realize that Federation is more than just happy hours – although we love those! The Annual Meeting is an excellent way to learn more about Federation. It’s a culmination of the previous year’s activities, and it celebrates outgoing board members, which is a great way to see how involvement can pay off for yourself and the community. Plus, as you know, it’s our first time as chairs so we’d love to see some friendly faces in the crowd!
What can we expect from you two as co-chairs? A duet? A flash mob?
Our role is pretty tame – introducing award winners and basically making sure the event keeps moving. But if you’re looking for entertainment, the winner of this year’s Semitic Idol, Noah Marell will be singing Hatikvah at the beginning of the meeting! If you haven’t heard of Semitic Idol, it’s an American Idol style singing competition put on every year by Hillel at the University of Minnesota. We actually heard the executive director of UofM’s Hillel speak recently, and we were impressed by what they do there and interested to learn that Federation plays an important part in their funding.
This year’s meeting will take place in an exciting new location – the JCC Theatre. Before the meeting, Federation will show its hot-off-the-press campaign video for the upcoming year. We’ve seen it, and without giving away too many spoilers – it’s a pretty touching display of the life-changing work Federation does. But we’re curious: let’s say we were all gathered to watch a Jew-ish movie of your choice, what would you choose?
Does a TV show count? We love Curb Your Enthusiasm!
Several members of our community are being honored, and they all sound pretty impressive. What about our award winners do you think stands out?
All of the award winners are great examples of community leaders. Mari Forbush will be receiving the Leon and Sylvia Sorkin Professional Achievement Award, and she’s been the Assistant Executive Director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services for seventeen years. Elissa Heilicher – you might recognize her name from Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School – has been dedicated to the Jewish community her entire life, and she’ll be receiving the Amos S. Deinard Award for Distinguished Leadership. Marty Chester, and I [Drew] are part of Cardozo Society together. He’s receiving the Tychman Family Young Leadership Award – deservedly so. He and his wife, Haley, have busy careers and family life and manage to stay involved in the Jewish community, especially in Holocaust education. It’s especially interesting for me to watch them as such influential members of the Jewish community since Haley and I were neighbors growing up!
Want to join Natalie and Drew to celebrate the donors, volunteers and community leaders who make Federation’s life-changing and  work possible? Click here for all the details and to let Federation know you’ll be attending. Hope to see you there!