Here’s how we know it’s fall in Greater Boston: The nights get cooler. A Jewish holiday sneaks up on us almost every week. And we kick off CJP’s Annual Campaign to support our Jewish community. Jessica Myers and Campe Goodman, who are at the helm as our 2022 Annual Campaign co-chairs, sat down to talk about what they’ve learned from participating in Jewish communal organizations, why they think CJP is an essential part of our community, and their hopes for what we can accomplish together in the coming year.
CJP: Jessica, last year you and Co-chair, Adam Suttin, guided the Annual Campaign during a challenging time. What was your most important takeaway from that experience?
From the beginning, I just had faith that it would all work out okay. I had confidence in CJP — our staff, our volunteer network, and our donors are so strong. The sense of community in the Greater Boston area is deeply ingrained.
We thought a lot about interpersonal communication and our very important connection with donors, whether it was one-on-one Zoom meetings, phone calls, group Zooms — just reminding our donors that we are here, we are working on massive issues: how to support our community through COVID-19, along with the very real threats of poverty and mental health concerns.
At the same time, we didn’t forget that our community is more than just our emergencies, it's our culture, our arts, our history, our people, and making sure that Jewish life is thriving.
In the year going forward, we’ll need to rely on the flexibility and adaptability we developed last year.
CJP: Campe, you've been active with several agencies that CJP partners with. How have those experiences shaped your perspective of our Jewish community and CJP’s role in it?
I first got involved with the Jewish community through CJP's Young Adult Leadership, not long after I started working professionally in Boston. That was meaningful to me because CJP was one of the places in the Jewish community that gave young adults a way to make a difference, do something meaningful, and be of service.
Then I started transitioning to work alongside the agencies. I served on the boards of Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and American Jewish Committee (AJC). I've particularly liked organizations that connected the Jewish community with the broader Boston community. That's where I really find my energy — in that intersection between the two.
I like the fact that we are a community that can help ourselves while also making a difference in the places that we live. And so many of our partner agencies really are doing just that: They are the experts on these different communities.
During the financial crisis [of 2008], I remember going to events for Jews who were out of work and didn't know where to turn, and JVS helped them. And people went to those events because they found out about them through CJP, which helped to provide a lot of the leadership and funding for the events. The partnerships that I've seen over the years make me feel so good about being involved on both sides.
CJP: Why do you contribute your time and energy to CJP as a volunteer?
The Jewish community is very important to me. It's central to my identity, and it's how I found my place in Boston when we first moved here. CJP connected me to events, other organizations, and people who care about the same types of issues and have similar world views. Additionally, I like knowing what's going on in a broader perspective in the Boston Jewish community — so that’s why I’ve refocused my energy on CJP at this point in my volunteer career.
I am grateful to CJP for being the central connector for me and introducing me to people who have changed my life by serving as role models in my philanthropic journey. I know that CJP has impacted thousands of other people in the Boston area who also benefit from being part of this incredible community.
My personal passion is that intersection between being part of the Jewish community, but also being part of the place that I live, in Boston. CJP has the scale to affect both of those communities in which I live. Also, CJP’s staff is terrific, they're really good at what they do. It's fun sometimes to be involved with something that's new or that needs to get turned around, but it’s especially gratifying to spend my time with an organization that really knows what they're doing and also knows how to use people like Jessica and me effectively.
CJP: What compels you to invest philanthropically through CJP?
CJP provides a huge value-add to our community. They have the vision, they have the strategy, they have the expertise to understand what's happening in the community from a very broad perspective, and then hone down into the ways that they can be impactful on these issues.
CJP can't be everything to everybody, but what I think they do extremely well is constantly re-evaluating what's going on in the landscape and acting to address new and continuing issues like financial needs and supporting mental health this last year when it became so critical. There will always be ongoing needs, and CJP effectively utilizes its incredible network of professional staff and volunteer leadership to strategize on the issues, raise the funds necessary to support this critical work, and at the same time, be the central convener of community. Together, we’re addressing everything from the needs on the ground locally to the more global issues facing Jews locally and abroad. CJP is there in the center, and I don't think any organization does it better.
I believe in the CJP model. They identify needs that I wouldn't necessarily think of or that I wouldn't necessarily know how to assess as well as they do. I know that they're going to make good decisions, and I think that's a better model than every organization out there trying to try to compete, solely based on what looks most meaningful in that day.
CJP: What area of CJP's work means the most to you? Is there something that personally really resonates with you?
One thing that's important to me is our partnership with national and international organizations to benefit Jewry across the world and keep the Jewish community strong. Our work with Israel and overseas is very important to me, but I also care deeply about our local work addressing mental health, communal security, and the arts.
CJP knows how to leverage our partnerships really well, and that impacts everything we do. We’re strategic, knowing that we can't do everything for everybody, and therefore, when it makes sense, we partner with organizations that are experts in specific areas. We leverage partnerships locally, nationally, and internationally, so that CJP contributes in a way that is so powerful and effective.
As JVS' past board chair, I saw firsthand the impact that CJP can make for agencies across our community.
In my experience, in the Greater Boston Jewish community, whatever you give, it will come back to you two-fold. When I was in my 20s or early 30s, I was getting to run committees and meetings [at CJP], far before I got to do that in my paid work. It was a real opportunity.
CJP: What’s your outlook and your hopes for the year ahead? What are you focused on?
In my role as the Campaign Chair, I am focused on both being part of, and helping to support, our development professionals and volunteers raise the resources needed to implement CJP’s strategy and impact in the community. Additionally, I hope that we are able to increase the depth and breadth of our volunteer network this year. There are just so many talented people who care deeply about our community in Boston, and we’re finding ways to better tap into that. We're always looking for engagement opportunities, both to bring people in and have them become advocates for CJP.
On that note, I also want to see us increase our visibility in the community and make sure that people know everything that CJP does to allow us to live these thriving Jewish lives. We cannot take for granted all of the critical thinking and planning, as well as the coordination and partnerships within the community, that goes into keeping people safer and more secure. I would like people to know that CJP is at the center of this effort but not always in the spotlight when it comes to providing basic security and a social safety net for our community.
I think this is going to be another year of major change, and whenever there is major transition, there are a lot of people who need help. There are the people who are directly affected by COVID-19, and people who are secondarily affected because of their job situation, their housing situation, or mental health. When we have the most change, that's when the needs are greatest.
So, on the one hand, it's a little bit of a gloomier situation, but to me, I'm optimistic, because it's a great time to be leaning into things. There are so many more opportunities for us to help, and that makes it a great time to be involved.