Susan Bauman Stuart, the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s director of development, will serve as the federation’s interim president and CEO, beginning Feb. 1. She will be taking over from Joel Frankel, the federation’s current president and CEO, who announced last month that he would be leaving his position on Feb. 2.
Bauman Stuart has been part of the Howard County Jewish community for 23 years and has been the federation’s director of development since 2018. She has also been a member of Temple Isaiah since 2005. Connection is key, according to Bauman Stuart, who is currently working on her executive master’s in Jewish education.
“For the Jewish community in general, connection is the key to keeping us strong. I think community relationships are very important in times of difficulty,” Bauman Stuart said.
Frankel will be moving to Takoma Park, where he will be starting a new position as the senior director of strategic planning and allocations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
“As I said when I moved here in July of 2021, in my family, Columbia and Howard County is a special place, it’s a special community,” Frankel said. “There are so many things I’m going to miss. I think most of all though I’m going to miss the people that I’ve been working with.”
During Frankel’s tenure at the Jewish Federation of Howard County, the organization took on many projects as part of the campaign to combat antisemitism. This included launching its localized antisemitism reporting form.
“We’re no longer relying on national organizations alone. We know that we need to have our own internal reporting tools to be able to get the trust of our communities and be able to make a difference in this realm,” Frankel said.
Bauman Stuart was the federation’s board of directors’ unanimous choice for this role, as well as the executive committee’s recommendation. She and Frankel have worked together closely for the past three years and know each other’s strengths well. Frankel will continue to serve as a resource for Bauman Stuart after his departure.
“I’m going to be making sure that she’s in the best position to succeed, making sure she understands what the role entails, and I know she’s going to make it her own in a meaningful way,” Frankel said.
Until she officially begins as interim president and CEO, Bauman Stuart and the board will be working with the staff to support them during the transition.
“Change is always daunting for staff people. How I’m going to support them is by listening to their needs and ensuring that their voices are heard as we’re making decisions,” Bauman Stuart said. “We still have the same values, the same mission — and we’ve been on a really strong path over the past two-and-a-half years, and I just want to make sure that we continue growing.”
Rabbi Gordy Fuller, the board chair of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, said that Bauman Stuart was a clear choice for the interim role.
“Having somebody who knows the community already was important. We didn’t have the luxury of having time for somebody to get up to speed coming from the outside,” Fuller said. “It was a fairly easy decision to ask her to step into this temporary role.”
The search for a permanent successor to Frankel will continue, under Becca Feldman and Steve Kaplan’s leadership. Fuller said that they are looking for someone with people skills for their growing and diverse community.
According to Fuller, applications are already coming in, and the board hopes to find a permanent successor to Frankel by July 1, but they are willing to wait to make sure they make the right choice.
“One of the things that I would like the community to know is that I’ll be accessible, and I want people to feel free to reach out to me if they have anything they want to talk about,” Bauman Stuart said.