The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore recently solidified its mission, which is to strengthen and nurture Jewish life by engaging and supporting community partners in Greater Baltimore,
Israel and around the world.
It does this by securing resources and allocating them to its agencies, programs and services that exude a set of significant Jewish values: commitment to klal Yisrael; focus on tikun olam/repairing the world; respect for diversity; and belief in lifelong Jewish learning, engagement, innovation and collaboration.
“The Associated was originally based — on the time and circumstances of 90 years ago — on social services and establishing infrastructure. Times have changed, and we have entered into areas of concentration that we may not have been involved with,” explained Associated President Marc B. Terrill. “That is going to necessitate developing partnerships with organizations and coalitions in order to take care of challenges and opportunities.”
It’s a vision for the present and the future, focused and formulated based on community data and rooted deep in Jewish values.
The man behind the mission is Terrill, 51. And on June 19, at The Associated’s annual meeting, Terrill will celebrate 10 years at the helm.
The Associated and Terrill are terms that can almost be used interchangeably. He takes it personally and requires his staff and lay volunteers to do the same.
“He lives it and you live it with him,” said Sharon Eldridge, who has served as Terrill’s executive assistant throughout his tenure as president and before that, when Terrill was senior executive vice president.
But Terrill’s dedication is not based on ego. It’s based on priority — putting the strength and sustainability of the local, national and international Jewish community above all else.
“He introduced four guiding pillars to our community 10 years ago: a caring community, an involved community, a learning community and a community that seeks social justice,” said Ellen Macks, chair of Associated Women.
Macks has been involved with the federation for decades, but she said it wasn’t until recently that she was able to better articulate why — “Why are we doing this? We do it because of Jewish values — and we do it with Jewish values. … The Associated — Marc Terrill does everything he does based on Jewish values.”
“It goes without saying that Marc’s Judaism is one of the primary lenses he uses to see the world,” said Rabbi Steven Schwartz, spiritual leader of Beth El Congregation, where the Terrills belong.
“If it wasn’t in my DNA, something that I deeply care about, it would be impossible,” said Terrill, who puts in upward of 80 hours of work per week. “If you are not passionate about what you do, it is a recipe for derailment.”
Passion With Purpose
Passion — emotion — is not the only lens through which Terrill views his work. Instead, he is touted internationally (and certainly within the federation system) for being planful and strategic. Decisions are not based on whims but on data and by design.
Terrill came on board as president of The Associated shortly after the completion of the 1999 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study. He was determined not to let the data become hidden in a book on the shelf, but rather to wake up the community to the challenges and opportunities to which the data pointed. Terrill and his team’s analysis of the study birthed two dozen significant recommendations, all of which were implemented. One of the most striking is the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.
“The thing that was really the catalyst for me wanting to champion the overseas agenda with the leadership of The Associated was a community study done over 10 years ago that spoke about waning interest in Israel by Baltimore Jews, in particular the next generation,” explained Terrill. “As a person whose family had a horrific Holocaust experience [his grandparents were survivors] and a person who remembered and understood the wars of ‘67 and ‘73 … it was frightening to me. And I thought, ‘We need to address this is a meaningful way.’”
Terrill felt that Israel engagement could not be only about people writing checks. It had to be peer-to-peer, meaningful relationships with individuals. So he arranged a leadership trip to Israel in 2003 in search of a sister city.
“We went … to three cities: Ashdod, Rechovot and Ashkelon. … Ashkelon was special in terms of the overall feeling of the city and the people. We just celebrated 10 years of connection,” said Terrill.
Thanks to the Partnership, Terrill noted, Israel — for Baltimoreans — is no longer just headlines that make people cringe.
“It is about human beings who want peace and health and happiness,” he said. “It has been an incredibly important project in cementing the connection between Baltimoreans and Israelis and has developed generations of advocates for the State of Israel.”
Terrill’s vision for Jewish Baltimore supported and championed the creation of the Jewish Volunteer Connection, which created endless opportunities for individuals, families and groups to participate in Jewish life. It allowed for the expansion of services even during the recession — a time when social services were more needed than ever. While other communities retracted, The Associated put funds behind CHANA: Counseling Helpline & Network for Abused Women, took on SHEMESH, a program for day-school children with learning differences, and established the Center for Community Engagement & Leadership to nurture and train lay leadership for the entire community.
The Annual Campaign is the engine that made — and still makes — it all possible. The Associated meets its mark year after year, even in the worst of times. When the economy plummeted, Terrill led staff and volunteers to reach unprecedented growth in all areas of financial resource development … because there was no choice.
“Don’t hit our mark?” Terrill asked, brow furrowed. “It is not an option! The campaign achievement is not about the numbers, but [about] the individuals being served.”
Terrill explained that while the leaders in Baltimore are passionate and resolute, they, like him, are also very strategic.
“Campaigns don’t just happen,” he said. “We have very talented leadership who understand the case for giving, the return on investment.”
“One of Marc’s mantras,” said Barbara Gradet, executive director of Jewish Community Services, “is that we must always be deliberate in our planning, base our decision-making solidly on data and be willing to innovate. He has said to fail to do so is like ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.’”
The Associated is the only federation that maintains the original federation model: one ask and one gift to fuel all 14 local agencies and support federation overseas partners the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT.
“The beauty is that our agencies don’t have to compete with one another for donor interest or retention. They can do the thing they do best: provision of service,” said Terrill. “We can do it in a strategic way, so donors are not being bombarded with multiple requests. The Associated Annual Campaign has one gift that touches the totality of Jewish life, and our ability to raise more is what suggests the depth and continued breadth [of local services].”
This unique collaboration and cohesiveness translates to the agencies (each one serves a specific role), to The Associated board and committees (comprised of people of various sects of Judaism and different ages), and to the community at large (which is often brought together by coalitions of the willing initiated by The Associated).
“There is no Jewish community that I have seen where the Jewish federation and the agencies collaborate so closely and work together so seamlessly on behalf of the community,” said Gradet. “Our joint planning and fundraising help to ensure that we are all rowing together.”
“You always know with Marc Terrill that you have a partner, an advocate and an ally,” said Louis “Buddy” Sapolsky, former executive director of the Jewish Community Center.
At a recent Associated board meeting, Terrill’s eye for religious, gender and generational balance was apparent. In a room of more than 100 people, few were alike.
Current Chair of the Board Howard Friedman said he has seen firsthand the emphasis Terrill puts on including everyone.
“No matter what type of Jewish education they give their children, no matter what stream [of Judaism], they all come together at 101 West Mount Royal to work out the issues of our community in a thought-out, very civil, very educated way that can only be good for the community,” Friedman said.
He noted that Terrill changed the concept of “pay to play” and that The Associated’s earlier reputation as a place only for “big donors,” has been tempered in Terrill’s tenure.
“He has the same friendly feel for the guy who gives half-a-million dollars and the guy who gives a $100,” said Friedman.
And it has not always been easy. Terrill provided professional guidance, leadership and expertise to several dramatic and traumatic changes in Baltimore’s infrastructure that could have led to division, including the opening of the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC on Shabbat.
“We had conversations with Marc from the get-go,” recalled Sapolsky. “They were … about how to do our best not to disaffiliate the Orthodox community. … Marc and our lay leadership talked together, worked together, and it was always a feeling of being one.”
Judge Ellen Heller said she finds the community — at the federation and in Jewish Baltimore — cohesive. She said the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative communities get along.
“They are respectful of one another,” she said. “That is not necessarily the case in other communities.”
Rabbi Moshe Hauer of B’nai Jacob Shaarei Zion expressed similar sentiments. He said while unity is “a work in progress,” he feels Terrill has played an important role in the efforts.
“He is personally engaged with me, and I know he is heavily engaged with many leaders in the Orthodox community. It is genuine,” Rabbi Hauer said.
Most recently, The Associated has worked to engage the local Russian Jewish community. Twenty-five years after Operation Exodus, explained Terrill, The Associated wants this community to know they have a place at the table.
Andrew Razumovsky has been a part of those efforts.
He said, “It means a lot to me. It is important to remember that around 1.5 million Jews left the Former Soviet Union because of the work of many leaders like Marc. It is also significant that The Associated is an all-inclusive community and striving to work with all members of the Jewish community.”
“There is a big difference between 100,000 Jews living in a community and a community of 100,000 Jews,” said Michael Hoffman, chief planning and strategy officer for The Associated.
When it comes to the next generation, Terrill views young people not as those in their 20s and 30s but as those in their teens. He launched Diller Baltimore Teen Fellows, Students Taking Action for Change and Teen Giving Initiative, engaging youth with community service and educating them about The Associated system and the annual campaign.
Engagement efforts also trickle into the greater Baltimore community. Heller said the federation is known for initiating efforts to reach out and establish dialogue with the African-American community and with people of other faiths.
“We are the city hall of Jewish Baltimore. … The governor, the mayor, the Archdiocese — when they have an issue or want to collaborate with the Jewish community, they call Marc,” said Hoffman.
Alvin Bernard Krongard (affectionately known as “Buzzy”) was the executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He said that as chairman of the local police foundation, he reached out to Terrill when the group was raising money to supply the police department with items beyond its budget: more protective vests, more communications equipment, more specialized training and Tasers.
“He helped us raise money through a number of charitable foundations that operate through The Associated,” said Krongard. “He was extremely competent, as well as a good adviser. … He is very intelligent and very much in touch with the needs of almost all parts of the community, not just the Jewish part.”
A Little History
Terrill said he always knew he would work in the Jewish community, but he chose the federation because “it is the biggest tent.”
As a student at the University of Florida, Terrill learned about the federation, then known as United Jewish Appeal. He was involved in Jewish leadership on campus and was identified as someone who could go into the field of Jewish communal service. He applied to be a Pearlstone Fellow and was accepted.
Terrill’s first role was with emerging growth communities in Florida. In the summers and via correspondence courses, through the fellowship funded by the Pearlstone Family Fund (of which he is president today), he received a master’s degree from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
After graduate school, Terrill was promoted to the major gifts department of the UJA in New York. In that role, he traveled to Baltimore for the first time for a meeting about a national trip to Israel.
“I met Darrell Friedman and saw that Baltimore was really very special, at least from the vantage point of being here two-and-a-half days,” recalled Terrill.
At the time, he has been offered a top-level position in his hometown in Florida. And weeks later he had been called about a role in Baltimore. But there was something holding him back.
“My parents told me they were divorcing. … My father was moving to California, and my mom was going to be in Miami with my brother and sister, and I wanted to be supportive,” said Terrill. “I ended up calling my mom and saying to her, ‘I got this incredible opportunity in Miami, but the advice and counsel I am receiving is that might not be best in terms of my development now.’ She said, ‘Don’t be a martyr. We are fine. You pursue the best opportunity for you and your career.’”
The move was beshert.
Weeks after Terrill made the decision to come to Baltimore, the UJA made an announcement about his leaving at a meeting of lay and professional leaders. There was a woman in the audience who called up a friend of hers who was the campaign director in Baltimore and she said, “There is a guy moving to Baltimore. I think he would be perfect for my daughter who lives in D.C. That’s close enough.”
Said Terrill: “That woman stood up at my wedding and said she had the privilege of selecting her son-in-law.”
In March 1993 (as the Storm of the Century dumped 12 inches of snow on Baltimore), Terrill and Diana were married. They started their family in Baltimore.
Carole Sibel was among the first to know.
Sibel was on an Associated mission to Morocco, she said, when she noticed Diana “was going to the bathroom a million times. I said, ‘I think she’s pregnant.’ I kept a secret for the first time in my life; I never told a soul.”
Shortly after Maddy was born, Terrill received a call from the combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston to give him the opportunity to run the campaign. At the same time, they promised him — and delivered — on
mentorship from tenured Harvard Business School professors. Though Darrell Friedman and his colleagues and friends in Baltimore counseled him otherwise, Terrill said he knew he had to go.
“I thought Baltimore was going to be a memory,” he said. “I was in Boston for a few years, and one day I was driving down the Massachusetts Turnpike to work and my phone rang. It was two Baltimore leaders — Barbara Himmelrich and Sonny Plant — and they said they wanted to talk to me about coming home.”
Terrill returned in 2000 to serve as senior executive vice president. In 2002, he was president-elect. In 2003 he took on his current role.
Taking office in the shadow of Friedman, Terrill stayed confident.
“Some of the best advice I got when growing my career was, ‘Don’t be anyone else. Be yourself,’” said Terrill.
And that is how he is treated. He is known for the eight diet cokes he drinks per day, for crumpling a tissue when he talks and for certain catch phrases, such as “secret sauce.” He’s also become known for his dry humor and keep-calm attitude.
“A lot of people say they can’t tell when he is upset,” said assistant Eldridge. “How he controls it is amazing.”
Only those closest to Terrill —such as Chief of Staff Michelle Gordon and assistant Eldridge — can surmise that his mood has changed. Eldridge said he may become quiet (usually he cracks a lot of jokes, she said) or there might be a mild change in his tone.
“But it never lasts long,” said Eldridge. “And he never lets us feel it — he doesn’t take it out on the staff.”
Terrill keeps an open-door policy.
“He never does not meet with someone or talk on the phone, no matter their position or who they are in community,” said Eldridge. “Every letter that is addressed to him, he addresses. … People say, ‘You don’t need to be bothered with this.’ He says, ‘I need to be there.’ He takes his responsibilities today the same as when he was just getting started.”
Terrill engages with people as if they are the only one in the room.
“His motto is every encounter matters,” said Gordon.
“You always feel you have his ear,” said Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of Beth Tfiloh Congregation. “He is listening and is always going to try be responsive.”
Everybody knows him. Terrill laughed recalling how his brother-in-law recently came to visit and they went for breakfast at Goldberg’s New York Bagels
“I ran into this one and this one and this one. And my brother-in-law goes back to Pittsburgh and says to my mother-in-law, who was always in federation leadership positions, ‘I always used to say I hate going out with you because you have to stop a million times. Marc is worse,’” said Terrill.
Terrill, said Howard Friedman, was once called at 3 a.m. to assist a donor who was struggling with an issue abroad. Terrill stayed up and handled the call — from 3 to 6 a.m.
At 101, and across the system, Terrill has high expectations for those that work for him. Though he is a caring person — cracks a joke now and then, always smiles — Terrill recognizes that he is ultimately responsible for an operation of 115 employees (professional and program staff) and another 800 people through the agency network. He leads by example.
“He’s the first one in the trenches doing the work and sweating it out,” said Hoffman, noting that Terrill promotes a sense of collaboration among professionals and encourages a creative environment. “You can disagree with him. He loves different approaches to how to advance the mission of The Associated.”
Terrill works hard. He also plays hard. He offers staff a release every now and then.
“He makes you enjoy being a part of his team,” said Hoffman. “This is a career with a cause for him, and he transmits that down to the members of his professional staff.”
Despite the long hours, the endless dedication and determination to support a growing Jewish Baltimore, Terrill is a family man.
Terrill told how when he was first starting out he attended a week-long workshop at an innovation center in Greensboro, N.C. The professional shadowing him pulled him aside and delivered a tough message: “You dote over your 6-month old, talk lovingly about your wife, but it is clear you are working 24/6 or 7. If it true what you say, that these relationships are important, then you have to live your life in a way that suggests that.”
For the Terrills, said Diana, Friday night has become sacred.
“We can’t guarantee Marc will be home any other night for dinner. Friday night is off limits for work,” said Diana. “We are not shomer Shabbat … but this is a night of family and being together.”
The children think of Terrill endearingly.
“I love basically everything about him,” said Eli, 11.
“My children are constantly asking questions, wanting attention — like any other children. Marc really got tired of daddy this, daddy that — daddy, daddy, daddy. So, four or five years ago, he decided instead of being called daddy, he wanted to be called Ignazio,” said Diana. “Igio, Nazio — he’ll respond much more to that. It’s a family joke.”
Terrill uses family vacations to rejuvenate and refresh. He also takes “Buddy Trips,” excursions with only one or two of the children. From those come the fondest of memories.
“One time, my dad went fishing with me, my sister and my grandmother in the Florida Keys. He didn’t realize there was turtle grass, and we went into it and got stuck,” said daughter Samantha, 11, with a giggle. “We didn’t know what to do, and we had to wait for hours for people to come. Dad had to get out and push the boat out of the seaweed. He was frustrated, but then it got funny.”
One time on a trip with Eli, they got locked out of the RV they rented. When Eli climbed through and opened the door, Daddy took off — before the door was closed. The stairs broke.
But mostly, his three children and Diana are grateful for Terrill the leader and for the Jewish values he espouses.
“I am extremely proud of him,” said Maddy. “He exposes us to all sides of Judaism and the community, and it has always been a pleasure.”
Some lessons they’ve picked up: Look people in the eye when you talk with them. Always love what you do. “He is such an influential man,” said Maddy. “A lot of people can learn from him.”
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore strengthens and nurtures Jewish life by engaging and supporting community partners in Greater Baltimore, Israel and around
THE ASSOCIATED will secure the resources necessary to address the evolving landscape of Jewish life, ensuring a vibrant community for future generations.
10 Things we Learned From Marc B. Terrill
1. Sometimes issues aren’t as big as you think they are. Sharon Eldridge, The Associated
2. Respond with urgency and empathy. Michelle Gordon, The Associated
3. To be deliberate in our planning, base our decision-making solidly on data, and be willing to innovate.
Barbara Gradet, Jewish Community Services
4. Organizations need to have representatives representing different factions — religious sects and ages.
Judge Ellen Heller, community leader
5. Why do we do what we do? Jewish values. Ellen Macks, community leader
6. The community can move forward in a cooperative way — the federation, the synagogues, the JCC — all working together. Rabbi Steven Schwartz, Beth El Congregation
7. Talk things out to come to conclusions. Carole Sibel, community leader
8. The importance of giving back. Diana Terrill, wife
9. Love what you do. Maddy Terrill, daughter
10. Be a leader. Samantha Terrill, daughter
Maayan Jaffe is JT managing editor — firstname.lastname@example.org