Susan Stuart is the Federation’s new Annual Campaign Director, overseeing the campaign that supports our community programming and services.
Hi Susan! We’re so excited to have you as a member of our team. You have a varied professional background in the field of fundraising. Can you tell us more about it?
My professional background is in non-profit management, fundraising, and marketing. After earning an undergraduate degree in marketing and an MBA from the University of Maryland College Park, I started working as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. I soon moved up the ranks to become the Regional Vice President, overseeing the staff that provided programs, fundraising, and patient services for five Maryland counties and raising over $1.9 million dollars a year in our region.
After working for the ACS for 11 years, I became a stay-at-home mom to my 13-year-old daughter. I then started doing consulting work for small non-profits, serving in roles from fundraiser to executive director. As a consultant, I worked the most with dreamMakerS, an organization that provides programming and support for children of parents with multiple sclerosis.
What interests you in fundraising?
I love working with people! I love getting out into the community, meeting people, and finding out what drives them and how the organization can best serve their needs.
I am also passionate about building a strong and connected Jewish community. My grandmother was one of the most important influences in my life. She came alone to the US from Russia at 16 years old. Her stories of enduring the pogroms in Russia really instilled in me the importance of a supportive Jewish community where people look out for one another.
What is the most important quality you need to have to be a successful fundraiser?
Knowing the community that you are working with and what creates a most meaningful giving experience for them. Appreciating their values and understanding how those values align with the mission of the organization. In Howard County, I know that the values of maintaining community and helping those in need, especially our own Jewish brothers and sisters, are important to our community members. I think they just need to recognize the power of their communal giving and how Federation can help put their values into action.
How long have you lived in Howard County?
I have lived in Maryland my whole life and in Howard County for the past 17 and a half years. I’ve been a member of Temple Isaiah for 13 years, since before my daughter was born.
As a longtime resident of the area, what do you feel are the strengths and challenges of the Jewish community?
I think our community members understand the value of supporting our Jewish future and ensuring that our aging constituents and our children and grandchildren all have the support they need to thrive and carry on our Jewish heritage. I would like Jewish Howard County to develop a more cohesive, holistic unity, where we feel part of one community that is there to come together and support one another, regardless of affiliation.
What should be the Federation’s most important priority right now?
Figuring out what the Jewish community needs—hearing feedback from our constituents about which programs and services are most important to them.
The Federation’s mission is four-fold, as we build community, help those in need, enrich Jewish life, and strengthen the bonds among Jews around the world. Which of these speaks to you the most?
For me it’s building community and helping those in need. I grew up in a family that was focused on our Jewish customs. Now, as I raise my teenage daughter, I realize how much I rely on a vibrant Jewish community as part of my “greater family” to keep my Jewish observance alive and strong.
In terms of helping those in need, I think a lot of people don’t realize that in Howard County, we have hungry people, seniors who are lonely, and people who need a support system. The work that the Federation does with those in need is extremely important to me, and I would love to see that grow.
What Jewish value is most important to you to bring to your work?
Tzedakah. That is a value I’ve tried to instill in my daughter since the day she was born. For some of her birthdays, instead of presents, she has asked her guests to donate to a local cause. I just think it’s important for people to reach out and help others. Here at the Federation I am learning that the power of communal giving goes even further.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Purim. I love its fun, whimsical quality, and I love attending Purim Palooza . Purim is a great holiday that connects kids to something joyful and celebratory and teaches them that one person really can make a difference.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love spending time with my daughter, traveling (I especially love the beach), and volunteering with animals.
You can reach Susan at SStuart@JewishHowardCounty.org or 410-730-4976 x106.