David Lauer is JFCS’ new Development NextGen Coordinator. NextGen engages community members ages 21–36 through social events, volunteer and leadership opportunities, and a giving circle. Its mission is to provide opportunities for young adults to develop leadership skills and deepen connections to Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis and its mission through volunteer experiences and philanthropy.
Why did the NextGen Coordinator position appeal to you?
In the past couple years, I’ve been seeking a path to translate my internships and college experiences into a job where I can actively work to heal the world, driven by my personal take on tikkun olam (repair of the world). I also was looking for a way to connect with and build community among other young Jewish professionals in the area. Being the NextGen Coordinator helps me do both at the same time!
NextGen has been extremely successful since launching seven years ago – how do you feel it can continue to grow and evolve while staying true to its mission?
Each new wave of young people graduating and settling in the Twin Cities have different wants and needs. On top of that, the social and political climate has really changed in the past eight years. I think NextGen’s core mission – to connect young people with JFCS and each other, to build our own skills and understanding while helping JFCS address the needs of the community – is timeless. How we execute that mission is going to have to adapt and shift as the needs of our demographic change, and as the needs of the community change. I have some ideas, but I’m excited to meet with constituents one-on-one to hear from them how they want to see NextGen grow!
What will be some of the biggest challenges and opportunities for the program going forward?
The environment of young-adult organizations in the Twin Cities has changed some – there are more groups offering a social outlet with a Jewish connection. That’s really a good thing in my book – more connections and more community is great. It’s a challenge, but also an opportunity. Because even if the space is a little busier, there are more groups to collaborate with, and it’s an opportunity for NextGen to define itself and better understand our role in the community.
I’m going to work to bring new people in, making sure our events are inclusive, enriching, and values- driven. To achieve this, I’m planning collaborations with J-Pride, PRISM Marketplace Food Shelf, and other local groups to make timely, meaningful programming – with some Jewish influence, but open to everyone and without the religious approach provided by synagogues. I am hoping to create a salon-style discussion series focusing on problems of identity and justice, through a Jewish lens. Stay tuned for more on this!
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m just really excited! I want people to reach out to me if they have ideas on what you’d like to see, or know someone who might want to be a part of NextGen. Keep an eye on the TC Jewfolk calendar and the JFCS website for upcoming events – or follow the NextGen Facebook page!
If you want to share ideas for programming, find ways to get involved, or just get coffee you can reach David at [email protected] or 952-417-2124