Who The Folk?! David Milavetz

This week we are joined by David Milavetz, the new President of the board here at Jewfolk. We talk about career changes, the law, and how he’s seen this organization evolve in the nearly 6 years he’s been involved at Jewfolk, in this week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast.

You can read an excerpt below, but for the whole interview (which you are really going to want to hear), please listen or subscribe to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher, with more to come later soon. Please subscribe, rate, and review. Check out the show page where you can catch up on previous episodes. And of course, if you have suggestions of others who would be great subjects, let us know!

You are the new president of the board of TC Jewfolk, helping lead us into our second decade, and you’ve been with Jewfolk for half of its life, basically, as a board member. How have you seen the organization evolve?

Well, when I first joined, we didn’t have an executive director.

That was a long time ago.

An incredibly long time ago. It’s just it’s incredible to see how much we’ve grown as an organization, not just financially, not just on staff, but what we do. We’ve gone from mostly a blog to having an incredibly diverse array of offerings, from articles to podcasts like this, to JLink networking events to Mammalehs to a lot of other programs that we’ve been working on. So it’s really exciting to see what we’ve become.

When we last talked to you, you had just finished your masters up in public policy. And now we talk to you as you’ve graduated law school, passed the bar, and become a lawyer. Tell us a little bit about the last few years between finishing your masters and then starting law school. What were you doing in public policy at that point?

That’s a long road. road to travel. But I was doing a lot of different things from working in research and evaluation at the Science Museum in St. Paul. Then I was also doing some of my own consulting projects. I did the planning project with the St. Paul (Jewish) Federation. And I also did a bunch of other program evaluation work with theatre groups and arts organizations. So I don’t know how I ended up in law but I did. It just felt like a natural fit for me and here I am.

You were a help with Jewfolk when we were starting our early community surveys.

I’ve always been interested in how people perceive the world and how people perceive their communities around them, which is how I got into that work. Originally, I was doing a lot of advocacy work, a lot of lobbying. And we use a lot of numbers in that world. Building surveys and figuring out how people feel about things is always very interesting to me. I like to know how things work.

Was the work you’d done with St. Paul Federation you introduction to Jewish communal work?

I think I was on the board of Jewfolk before that, actually. That shows you how long I’ve been on the Jewfolk board. But that was probably my first exposure to the Jewish community at large, and kind of knowing how the different organizations interact with each other. And it was really just a great experience to get to work with some really talented skilled people and volunteers in the community.

What is it that drew you to working with and volunteering in the Jewish community?

That’s a good question. Because for a while I really struggled with my Jewish identity, and how I engage with the community. My family has always really valued giving back and being part of the community, which is partly where I drew that interest from. But part of what drew me to Jewfolk was the original tagline of “10,000 ways to be Jewish.” Basically I’m just searching for a way to kind of identify and connect with the community and so I thought, you know, what’s better than using skills that I have and interests that I have to try to help make a positive impact on our community. And I don’t know if that ended up happening, but I really enjoyed a lot of the work and I found it to be very meaningful for me.

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