Kim Shwachman has officially taken the helm as the 2021 JUF General Campaign Chair. Shwachman, who also serves on the JUF Board of Directors, didn't have her sights set on this role when she attended her first JUF event in 2000. Yet, this position is something she has been preparing for since she first became connected to, and inspired by, JUF all those years ago.
In this role, Shwachman will lead the 2021 JUF Annual Campaign, Jewish Chicago's collective fundraising effort, which provides foundational support for JUF's network of more than 70 human service agencies, educational institutions, and community-building programs in Chicago, in Israel, and around the world.
"In many ways I was raised by JUF," Shwachman reflected. "As a young Northbrook mom, I was invited to someone's home to learn about the work of JUF. Following that event, I was invited to tour The ARK, one of the many agencies JUF supports. That experience was a turning point for me. I learned firsthand about the selfless work provided to the most vulnerable Jews in our community.
I met a dentist who was volunteering his time to make dentures for a client. I was overwhelmed by his selfless desire to serve others on his days off from work. I asked myself 'what am I doing to help others?' No human should have to make decisions about whether they buy food or medication, or have to live in fear that they cannot pay their rent or utilities. The fact that JUF supports The ARK's operations and so many other organizations doing this lifesaving work was a true moment of clarity for me. That day set me on a path of greater involvement with JUF and I have never turned back."
As General Campaign Chair, Shwachman will work alongside Pam Szokol, Chair of the JUF Board of Directors. Together, Shwachman and Szokol are making history, marking the first time two women have simultaneously served in both top lay leadership roles at JUF.
"I am thrilled to be part of this moment in JUF history as two women enter 2021 in significant lay leadership roles," Szokol said. "Kim has such grace and exudes passion in everything she does. The year ahead will undoubtedly present challenges as we emerge from COVID-19. And together as lay leaders, in partnership with the outstanding JUF staff, we have an opportunity to continue to evolve our work and reach, bring new vision and energy to JUF, and to be role models for future generations of women."
Shwachman has a track record of success serving in several notable lay leadership roles for the organization, including chairing the Major Gifts dinner for the 2016 JUF Annual Campaign.
"Kim is as dedicated and generous as she is smart and driven--an unbeatable combination," said Lonnie Nasatir, JUF President. "We have every confidence that the 2021 Campaign will be a great success under her leadership and thank her for taking this on."
The immediate past Co-Chair of the Health and Human Services Commission and past Chair of the Partnership Together and Missions committees, Shwachman also has served on a wide range of committees, including Community Outreach and Engagement and Israel and Overseas. She currently is a member of the JUF Women's Board and a Trustee of the Jewish Women's Foundation.
"Serving on various committees is where I have been able to see firsthand the need, here in Chicago and across the globe. And it's where I have seen the true impact of JUF and collective action," Shwachman said. "Being part of the committee responsible for the allocation of dollars and then seeing those dollars at work is what has truly prepared me for this role."
Shwachman is a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook. She lives in Northbrook with her husband Perry and they have three children, Blair, 27, Danielle, 25, and Tyler, 22.
Elizabeth Abrams is Assistant Vice President of Communications for the Jewish United Fund.