Asked what it is that appeals to her about working for Jewish organizations, Amian Frost Kelemer reflected on the value she got out of working as a teacher at Gesher LaTorah, a Sunday school for children with significant disabilities, when she first moved to Baltimore decades ago.
“When you work in the local Jewish community, you get the gift of a special perspective,” Kelemer said in an email. She noted that ensuring students have access to a Jewish education was and is important to her. “I was able to see firsthand the incredible effort of colleagues, community members — everyone who is pulling together to uplift the community. You contribute and you gain — it is really beautiful.”
Kelemer, now the CEO of the Macks Center for Jewish Education, where she has worked for 29 years, will soon be contributing to the community in a new way. She was recently hired to become the director of operating programs at the Mayberg Foundation, a new position at the Washington, D.C.-based organization. Kelemer will begin her new role on April 27.
The Mayberg Foundation is a family foundation with both grantmaking and operating programs. The foundation strives toward “proliferating Jewish wisdom and values in the contemporary world,” said its executive director, Todd Sukol, in an email.
Foundation trustees Louis and Manette Mayberg are members of the Mid-Atlantic Media ownership group, publisher of the JT.
“One of the things that makes the Mayberg Foundation so unique is that we achieve our philanthropic objectives both through traditional grantmaking and by building highly specialized operating programs — sort of like mini-nonprofit organizations in their own right,” Sukol said. “We’ve been deploying this strategy successfully for about 10 years in order to maximize our impact, and we are ready to take things to a new level. Ms. Kelemer’s primary responsibilities will be bringing the portfolio of internal operating programs to new heights of professionalism and excellence.”
In her new position, Kelemer will oversee the Mayberg Foundation’s non-grantmaking activities.
Programs include the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC), which catalyzes radical improvement in Jewish day schools; MyZuzah, which provides kosher, fair trade mezuzahs to Jewish homes around the world; and an expanding portfolio of other program initiatives.
Kelemer, a resident of Baltimore City and member of both Congregation Shomrei Emunah and Kehilath B’nai Torah, has worked with the Mayberg Foundation before. Even before being hired, she had been in regular contact with staff from Mayberg’s Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, and she respects their expertise and creativity.
During one discussion with those staff members, the new position came up.
Kelemer felt it would be a good fit for her, as she and the Mayberg Foundation are “philosophically aligned.”
She said she and the foundation believe in Jewish students having a strong grounding in Jewish text and context, in different sectors of people sharing their ideas to work together and in using innovation to disrupt the status quo and ensure Jewish experiences reach learners and participants.
Upon assuming her position at the foundation, Kelemer’s responsibilities will include making sure that the staff of its in-house programs, including JEIC, have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. She will also collaborate with senior staff on strategy and planning, oversee the allocations of resources and the management of personnel, and work with the grantmaking team to manage a portfolio of grants.
Kelemer’s time at CJE has left her well-prepared to take on her new role at the Mayberg Foundation, she said, as they have provided her with a deep and broad understanding of what works in Jewish education.
“I have held positions in all different aspects of the field, such as special education, educational resources and Israel education,” Kelemer said. “Working on initiatives across the full range of settings including informal education and schools and with colleagues locally, across North America and in Israel has given me valuable perspective.”
“By all accounts Amian is a leader,” said Sukol. “She clearly knows how to blend the heartfelt passion of wanting to make the world better with the practical know-how to build and oversee efficient and effective processes.
“She did it in Baltimore and I am confident she’ll do it with Mayberg Foundation on the national stage,” Sukol continued. “We are blessed to have found her and we can hardly wait for her to come on board.”