Meghann Schwartz, 33, always knew she wanted a career in the Jewish community.
The Brookeville resident and mother of four kids, ranging in age from 20 months to 8 years, is associate director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County. With master’s degrees in Jewish communal service and nonprofit management from Baltimore Hebrew University and Johns Hopkins University, respectively, Schwartz jumped at the opportunity when the Federation had an open position.
“I truly believe in the work of the Jewish Federation system and am happy to be building a strong Jewish community in Howard County,” she said.
What is a typical day for you?
My morning starts at 6:45 when I wake my kids up. After a crazy 40 minutes, I take the next 30 minutes to get myself ready and out the door. My day at work consists of planning, solicitations, outreach meetings and conversations with both staff, lay leaders, constituents and community members.
On any given day, I can be working on several community or fundraising events, creating new initiatives or evaluating previous programs. Several times a month, I have night meetings and events, but if I’m lucky, it’s back to home for dinner, homework and bedtime. And at 8, the night has just begun: cleaning up from the day; laundry; cooking dinner for the next day; or planning for the weekend. Usually I make it to bed by 10:30 when my husband and I will watch a show before drifting off to sleep. I really have two full-time jobs!
You recently received the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development’s Outstanding Jewish Communal Professional Award. What does that honor mean to you?
It was such a wonderful surprise. The Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development is a huge asset to our community, providing professional development and leadership training to Jewish communal professionals, and I was so honored to receive the award. One of the reasons that this award meant so much to me is that one of my supervisees nominated me for it.
What motivates you as a professional?
We have two galas in Howard County, Jew Year’s Eve, our young adult gala, and Fed Live, the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s annual gala. It is so special to see the entire community coming together at these events. We are able to see the people we have touched throughout the year and our direct impact on the community. It is constantly inspiring to see lay leaders who have dedicated their time to help build the organization through their time, energy and financial contributions.
As associate director, do you have any strategies for keeping the Federation team coordinated and running smoothly?
One thing we started several years ago is that our entire staff eats lunch together every day. This keeps us on the same page. Despite frustrations and challenges during the work day, we take a break to sit down together as friends and schmooze about our lives.
What are some of the things you’re most proud of?
One is the growth of oxyGEN, our young adult division, and its giving level, the Chai Society. From programs such as our Jew Year’s Eve gala to Brews & Schmooze Happy Hours to jLEADS, our signature leadership program, we have started to inspire, educate, connect and engage the next generation of leaders in the county. I am also so proud of bringing the international Good Deeds Day to life in Howard County. This past year, we had 400-plus community members volunteering.
What do you like to do in your down time?
What down time? It is hard to find down time during the week, so I try to take advantage of the weekends. I truly enjoy hosting, and we host large crowds each weekend for Shabbat meals. On the weekends, we like to hang out with friends, play board games, go on family outings and tour food factories.
Laura Dzubay was an intern at Mid-Atlantic Media, the Baltimore Jewish Times’ parent company.