Laurie Weitz Makes Women and Girls Her Priority

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Laurie Weitz arrived in Baltimore in 1993 for her husband’s business. Living in the Greenspring Valley area at the time, she quickly connected with the Jewish community. She was involved as the first co-chair, along with Ned Himmelrich, for ACHARAI, president of Hadassah for two terms, then participated in programs through Associated Women.

Today, this businesswoman – her family owns restaurants at BWI – is chairing the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation (JWGF) at The Associated. JWGF is a giving circle that empowers women, each of whom contributes the same amount, to direct grants to organizations that support women and girls.

Why JWGF? After I finished my second term as president of Hadassah, I joined Chapter Two (a 10-month educational and engagement program for women looking to grow as Jewish women through learning and hands-on social action) through Associated Women. Clara Klein, who was chair of Chapter Two at the time, gave a presentation about the giving circle. I loved the idea that we could help women and girls, not only in the Jewish community, but in the broader community as well.

Women and girls? Yes. Girls, particularly in the inner city, don’t have the same advantages and the same access to educational programs that we do. Even women in prison don’t always get the same services as the men. I feel that we have a responsibility to promote gender equality. The end result affects all of us.

What would you like to accomplish? I want to continue with the educational programs that Laury Scharff, who was the chair before me, added. Two years ago, for example, our group got to participate in a program that allowed us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. This year, we heard from Maggie Gunther Osborn from the United Philanthropy Forum, who gave us an overview of the 2020 census and its impact on the nonprofit community.

Laurie Weitz profile banner
Laurie Weitz and former chair Laury Scharff

I understand you want to add a travel component to Israel. My main vision is to create a JWGF mission to Israel – ideally at the end of my term in 2021. Every year we get proposals from programs in Israel that help women and girls. I’d love it if we could do site visits with the finalists.

Do you have a Jewish role model? Henrietta Szold. She lived in Baltimore and created an amazing organization that created the medical infrastructure in Israel and many social programs to better the lives of women and girls.

Best advice your mother ever gave you? To use my voice and volunteer time to make this world a better place.

I see you have grandchildren. What advice would you give them? To do the same, and to never give up on reaching their goals. And be kind to others.

Anything else? Being a member of JWGF gives one the opportunity for collective philanthropy and for empowering themselves. A member can do as much or as little as their schedule will allow. If you want to participate in site visits you can. If you are interested in educational programs, we offer it. Everyone has an equal say in what we fund, and you can vote when we get together or remotely. Thanks to the support of The Associated, we are making a difference for women and girls in the community.

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