Nancy Kutler leads the Jewish museum board of trustees

Nancy Kutler
Nancy Kutler (Courtesy of Nancy Kutler)

Update 5/17/22: The article’s headline has been updated to better reflect the content of the story.

While the pandemic ground entire industries to a standstill and shuttered whole businesses, Nancy Kutler, president of board the Jewish Museum of Maryland, looked back at it as a chance for the museum to improve.

“I feel we came through it with flying colors, turning many of our challenges into opportunities,” said Kutler, 68, a resident of Columbia and member of Bet Chaverim Congregation. “We found that being nimble and adaptable has been central to our success in the rapidly changing environment for arts and culture museums.”

Kutler has been president of JMM’s board for the past two years and has also been a docent and board member of the museum, she said. She is married to her husband, Ed, and has two children, her son Ben and daughter Rachel. She is expecting her first grandchild in June.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Kutler was raised in a Conservative household by her parents, both of whom were Holocaust survivors who instilled in her a love for Judaism, she said. She attended Hebrew school and had a bat mitzvah and a confirmation. She was also active in BBYO and went on a trip to Israel as a teenager. She met her husband in junior high school, while active in United Synagogue Youth.

Kutler received a master’s of social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and a master’s in Jewish history from Baltimore Hebrew University, which has since become Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.

Kutler spent 32 years working at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore before retiring in 2016. Her most recent position there was as vice president for philanthropic planning and services. In that capacity, she provided families with guidance on subjects such as donor advised funds.

After retiring, Kutler began looking for volunteer opportunities, she said, and found a role as a docent at JMM that proved an ideal fit.

“It combined my love of Jewish history and my interest in teaching,” Kutler said. “From there I became involved on the JMM development committee and ultimately the board.”

As a docent, Kutler is typically responsible for giving visitors a tour of JMM’s two historic synagogues, Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel.

“I enjoy teaching visitors about the history of Jewish immigration to Baltimore and seeing the many ‘wow’ moments the synagogues elicit from them,” Kutler said.

Upon becoming a board member, Kutler started to become involved in many other aspects of the museum’s work, she said. This included its work in development, finance, marketing, outreach and education.

In 2019, Marvin Pinkert, JMM’s then-executive director, approached Kutler about taking on the role of president, she said. She expects to continue in the role until June of 2023.

As president, Kutler works closely with JMM’s current executive director, Sol Davis, and with the other members of the board. She also views herself as an ambassador for the museum, representing it at different functions of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, and of the wider community.

During her term as president, Kutler’s proudest accomplishment so far has been heading the search that selected Sol Davis as the new executive director, she said.

“I feel we are so fortunate to have found someone of Sol’s caliber,” Kutler said. “He is truly redefining what a Jewish museum can be. He brings so much passion and creativity to the work — it makes me very excited for our future.”

Kutler was especially excited about the vision she has for JMM’s future, particularly when it comes to younger visitors.

“In the year ahead we are embarking on a redesign and renovation of our existing building, which will be followed by an expansion on newly acquired property,” Kutler said. “We envision JMM being part of a vibrant downtown Jewish hub.

“I’m particularly excited about the progress we’ve made reaching out to young adults,” Kutler continued. “Moving forward, I see JMM as the central venue for the many young adults involved in Jewish life downtown.”

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here