For the last year and a half, Melissa Halpern has enjoyed her time as director of communications, marketing and social media at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, asserting herself as a key cog in its operation.
In her position, Halpern, 32, handles all the brand promotion for the synagogue and its associated educational facilities — the Rosenbloom Religious School, the Goldsmith Early Childhood Education Center and the Krieger Schechter Day School.
Halpern is used to working long days, but it’s clear through her Jewish and educational background she loves what she does and can’t envision working anywhere else.
A Columbia, Md., native, Halpern became a bat mitzvah at Beth Shalom Congregation. She earned her undergraduate degree from York College of Pennsylvania in graphic design in 2006 and a master’s degree in business of art and design from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011.
How did you get involved in marketing and communications?
I jumped around between a lot of jobs. I worked retail on the side for about 10 years while working other full-time jobs. I miss some of the aspects of retail, especially standing on my feet a little bit more. I went back to school in 2011 because I wanted to learn business skills. At Maryland Institute College of Art, I completed a 15-month online course and learned how to start a business, which is something I wanted to translate into another job. I was lucky to find this one.
What led you to Chizuk Amuno?
I was looking for jobs while working in Washington, D.C., and I found this one on LinkedIn. I told [Chizuk Amuno] that I was good at creative writing but not technical writing. So I just said, “I don’t know if I’m a good match for this job” but that I would love to help in any way I could. In college, I was a publications chair, so I was in charge of doing concert promotions and putting up posters, so I felt like that was a parallel to this position. I got the job within a couple of days.
What goals have you set at Chizuk Amuno?
When I first started I wanted to get the website into the gear and make it more mobile friendly, because zooming in on your phone, especially for the older generation, is tough. Also, I worked a lot on making our weekly email newsletter more mobile friendly. I’ve been trying to optimize for everybody, so that way younger members can still pull up all that information on their phones without too much clutter.
Facebook has also been a challenge. The older generation — their grandkids tend to be on Facebook, so I want to have their pictures up there for them to look at and be able to locate. My long-term goal is [to target] membership to the younger crowd and have more professional events for young people to help build relationships with the older generation.
How do you balance your responsibilities with this job?
I have a communications request form. That way, people can’t just come to me and say, “Hey, I need this done by tomorrow.” I have a lot of fun, but there are some days I have to constantly write to-do lists. I see myself being here for a long time, because there is so much room for opportunity and growth. There’s a strong group of people becoming members.
How do you spend your spare time?
I love to bake, which is something the people here love, because I always bring cupcakes and brownies. I also loving drawing, and I’m a big runner. I do a lot of half-marathons — about two per year — and I want to do 50 half-marathons before I’m 50. I’ve done 17 so far, so I still have a long way to go.