Repair the World, a national movement with local chapters that encourages acts of service, announced on July 25 that four new members had joined its board of directors.
One of those members is Keith Forman, 43, a lifelong Baltimore resident. Forman is a managing partner at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman, LLC, and a Ravens, Orioles and Terps fan — passions he shares with his wife, Stacy Forman, and their three children, Mara, Tali and Elliot.
Forman is also a member of Beth El Congregation and a member of Repair the World Baltimore’s advisory council, a position he will retain through his appointment to the national board.
Repair the World Baltimore helps local organizations pursue justice and engages young adults with volunteering and Jewish learning opportunities. For instance, this month, on Aug. 16, Repair the World Baltimore and the Greater Remington Improvement Association are holding their monthly neighborhood cleanup.
While Forman had been presented with other altruistic opportunities in the past, none stood out to him quite like Repair the World did. He first learned about the organization’s work through a friend, Rabbi Jessy Dressin, who is the senior director of Jewish education for Repair the World.
“At the time, I didn’t even know what Repair was,” Forman said. “[Dressin] sat me down and walked me through it. She said that this was something I would find enriching and fulfilling. She knew me well, it turns out. She was right.”
According to Forman, what makes Repair the World different is the hands-on approach. It’s the same hands-on aspect that has motivated him throughout his career as a trial lawyer. Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman LLC is a litigation firm that represents children injured from medical or nursing malpractice.
“You go in to give birth to a child; it winds up being the worst day when the child suffers a bad outcome from a medical error,” Forman said.
When families come to Forman’s practice, they’re in a dark place, one of disappointment and distrust in a system that has failed them, according to Forman. His job is to get them out of that shadow and into a place where they can have confidence that, when they’re gone, their child will be taken care of.
“I want to feel like what I’m doing is making a difference,” Forman said. “I can see the end result of a case where their life changes. … It’s very much the same sort of philosophy that drives my desire to do [Repair the World].”
The ability to continue to serve on the local advisory council was one of Forman’s conditions for accepting the national board position. He first joined the advisory council in 2020, right around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic created unique challenges, Forman rose to meet them and has remained active in planning now that it appears to be over.
“I remember spending all day at a food pantry in Baltimore City and talking to residents about their daily experiences and the importance of having the pantry as a resource,” Forman recalled. “That memorable day really impacted me and my continued focus on service in the community.”
Forman said he appreciated how Repair the World, despite being a national organization, touches communities like Baltimore on such a personal, local level.
“I can observe the fruits of my labor. I can observe the work we’re all doing and see the results,” Forman said. “It really gets down to a community level and tries to help communities in need through Jewish service.”
In his new, additional role on the board of directors, Forman hopes to bring his local experience nationwide but also take what’s happening nationally and bring it home.
“I’ll have a front-row seat to what is working in other cities that maybe we haven’t tried in Baltimore,” Forman said. “I’ll be able to see how we can help fine-tune what the Baltimore chapter is doing.”