Who the Folk?! Jon Savitt

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of our Jewish community. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].

Last week we got to know Michelle Horovitz. This week meet Jon Savitt!

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities?

Jon: I grew up in St. Louis Park. I’ve lived here my entire life until I went to college in Indiana, and now it’s great to be back.

TCJ: And you’re now the Marketing Coordinator for Herzl Camp?

Jon: Yup! I was a lifelong Herzl camper, so I obviously have a lot invested in the camp, a lot of emotion. I care deeply about that place. When I moved back to MN and was looking for a career and ways to get involved, it was really the perfect fit for me to bring what I learned from the professional side of things–through internships, getting involved with startups and other projects–back to a place that I really care about and love.

TCJ: Do you work AT camp during the summer?

Jon: Yes, I do. This upcoming summer will be my first summer in this new role, but yeah, I’ll be up there.

TCJ: Doing what, exactly?

Jon: It’s a bit complex, actually. I’m not only in charge of marketing efforts, but also of staff development. So there are two almost completely different sides to this, but two passions that I care about equally. A lot of my time will be spent handling the various social media platforms, making sure all the communication gets out–like, the blog, all the letters that go to parents, etc. And on the development side, I’ll be supervising and working with staff, making sure that their time at camp is beneficial for the campers; but really trying to make sure that they’re growing at the same time, and that they’re part of Herzl’s mission as well.

TCJ: What struck you about Herzl? What kept you coming back year after year, and eventually into this staff position?

Jon: So, as a camper, I liked camp, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it. I obviously would come back every summer and be so happy that I went. But then every summer when it rolled around again, I’d be so hesitant and nervous about going. I had a great experience as a camper, but what really made me get involved was working as a staff member. It really taught me a lot about myself; it taught me a lot about how important a role summer camp plays in the lives of these children, how much they can grow, how much they can learn in just one summer.

TCJ: And how did you become Marketing Director?

Jon: I think when you’re dealing with an organization that has such a deep tradition, and such a deep story to it, it takes someone who has experience with that. I’m not the most skilled marketing professional, I don’t have the most experience, but I think for a story like this, you really need someone who has experienced it firsthand in order to be able to communicate that effectively. Coming out of college, I knew I wanted to do marketing, I knew that was what I was passionate about, and if I could do that for an organization that I care so much about, it just seemed like the perfect fit.

TCJ: What are your goals and plans for this role?

Jon: I want to bring everything to life that happens during the summer and the year: the amazing things that the campers do, as well as the staff. Our staff are involved in a lot of amazing things. We don’t choose just anyone to be a camp counselor. To be a counselor, or have any role on staff, at Herzl, you really have to have a caring for these campers, for kids, for working with people and being creative. I think there’s just so much that goes into working at a summer camp in general that people don’t realize. So I really want to bring that out and show people all the incredible components that go into, and happen as a result of summer camp.

TCJ: Switching gears, you also told us that in your free time you write for mtv.com and Huffington Post (among others). How did that come about? 

Jon: I had about two years of calling them, and emailing them; and they kept rejecting me. But after building up a portfolio writing for some smaller places, developing my voice more, understanding what I’m bringing to the table; I reached out to them one more time, and they finally said I was ready. Once I got that, it made it much easier to get in with other outlets.

TCJ: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Jon: No. Actually it’s really funny. I started “writing” on Twitter during my junior year of college, and that obviously only has a 140-character limit. When people were first responding to my tweets, I was like, “Well, this is fun…” It wasn’t until about six months later when I actually got my first article published.

TCJ: And you mostly write comedy?

Jon: Basically. It’s definitely humor, but I like to think of it as intertwining humor with a deeper meaning–touching on societal issues and current events that are going on that people don’t really think about. I think humor makes people reflect  on issues in ways they may not have before. So I do a lot of satire and sarcasm, and I like to make people think on a deeper level, after they initially think it’s funny.

TCJ: Where do you see this going? Do you have any goals for your writing?

Jon: I’m so young right now, and it’s so early in my career, that the door is wide open. I have no idea what I want to do. That’s the exciting part for me, and the part that I look forward to, is the unknown. I have all these passions, I have all these things that I love to do and make me happy; and I’m lucky that I have more than one. I’m just kind of letting it play out, and if something happens with one of those passions, one way or another, then I’m excited about what that will be.

TCJ: And you just got on a cover of a magazine! So things are going alright for you.

Jon: Ha! You saw that?

TCJ: Yeah…

Jon: Yeah, that did happen.

TCJ: What was that like?

Jon: It was really flattering and just kind of surreal experience. I’m really thankful for that. Because it was my hometown magazine, that meant a lot. But as cool as it is, I also know that it’s just a small step. It’s important to celebrate your successes for a little bit, but then it’s back to work. I know that I have a much bigger path to go on, and much more that I want to accomplish.

TCJ: OK, what is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Jon: Sukkot. I like the outdoors, and I like seeing the stars. I feel like that brings a different layer to the holiday that’s different from other holidays.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Jon: I really love popovers! I think they’re amazing. During Passover this year, I think I gained weight from eating all those popovers.

TCJ: Finally, give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome! 

Jon: I try to live by a mantra of: Be nice to people, and put in the work. My parents instilled that in me from a very young age. They would always tell me above all, be kind to others. Regardless of what position I’m in (professional life or personal), I don’t deserve anything, so I just always try to be kind to everyone I meet and work as hard as I can.

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