Who the Folk?! Dana Shapiro

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week we got to know David Steinman. This week meet Dana Shapiro! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected]

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities? 

Dana: Yes, born and raised. I went to college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. After that, I spent a year as a Jewish Campus Services Corps (JCSC) Fellow for Hillel at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus. I enjoyed my time away, but knew that I wanted to end up back here since I have a lot of family in this area.

TCJ: You work for JFCS. What do you do there? Do you like the work you do?

Dana: This month marks my four-year anniversary with JFCS. I work in the Development Department, where I coordinate the Mitzvah Tribute Card program, work on the Annual Benefit, and work on various other projects. I feel fortunate to work as a Jewish professional in a supportive environment that encourages people to be their authentic selves. I come to work every day feeling passionate about the work I get to do. My favorite part of my day is when I connect with donors over the phone or in person. It reminds me of the big picture and that the work our agency does truly improves lives, one person at a time. Aside from working there, the JFCS NextGen group has been a great way for me to connect with other Jewish young professionals, through social, professional, and volunteer opportunities.

TCJ: Other than working for JFCS Minneapolis, if you could do anything, and/or live anywhere, what/where would that be?

Dana: My friends and family know that I love talking about food and I am also very much into photography. I would love to combine these two passions and travel around the world, learning about the food in different regions and putting together some kind of book and/or video.

TCJ: Are you involved in any other TC organizations?

Dana: I’m also involved in Beth El Young Adults, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), Jewish Federation, Herzl Camp Alumni, and I sit on the Board for National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Regional Alumni Board for Drake University. Another organization that I am super passionate about is Gilda’s Club, where I’ve been an active volunteer since 2009. Gilda’s Club is a cancer support community that offers social, emotional and psychological support free of charge. It is open to anyone going through cancer themselves, or family and friends of someone going through it. Gilda’s Club recently raised enough money to open the first clubhouse in the Twin Cities and it’s located right in Minnetonka. Cancer is something that affects all of us, and I encourage anyone who is interested to look into how they can get involved: www.gildasclubtwincities.org.

TCJ: We’re taking an informal survey. Which of the many Jewish summer camps gets you all ferklempt?

Dana: I spent five summers as a camper at Herzl Camp and four as an Ozo/counselor. So many memories made over those years that I will never forget. It’s crazy for me to think that the youngest campers I had are now staff or older. Music played a huge role in those years at camp and often I will hear a song on the radio and then I’ll break out with lyrics from one of our many flag songs.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Dana: I love Passover because it means spring time, seeing family, eating lots of great food, and days off work (perk to working in the Jewish community).

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Dana: My favorite Jewish food is by far the chicken soup with matzo balls and kreplach that my great-grandma used to make us. Second place goes to potato knishes from the Carnegie Deli. Yum!

TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?

Dana: Bruno Mars – even if he’s one-quarter Jewish, we’ll take him! I’ve seen him perform twice and they were probably the most entertaining live concerts I’ve been to. 

TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What is your favorite memory?

Dana: I was a participant on a Shorashim Birthright Israel trip during college, and then went on to staff two more of those trips since then. My favorite memory was my first time in Ben Yehuda Street on a Friday afternoon. I stood there on the street corner and watched the people rushing in every direction, grabbing last minute food and flowers for the weekend. There was a musician nearby and I remember taking a panoramic video clip of it all to capture that perfect moment.

Dana with her sister, Amy.

Dana with her sister, Amy.

TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the cities?

Dana: I frequent the theater scene and love going to see musicals downtown. Fun fact: we have more theater seats per capita than any U.S. city besides New York City. Also, summer nights spent at the Lake Harriet bandshell with friends and family help me through those subzero months that we call Winter. 

TCJ: What else do you do for fun?

Dana: I’m in a book club with friends and we’ve started to learn mahjong like our grandmas. It’s a lot of fun but definitely takes some getting used to. I’m also in a foodie group where we try a new restaurant each month. When I’m not out and about, I’m hooked on shows on Netflix like Orange is the New Black.

TCJ: Give us one more reason you’re folking awesome!

Dana: I’ve been to about 40 of the 50 states and I have been in the newspaper in photos with Fonzie, John Kerry, and President Obama. 

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!