Meet Katie Applefeld

Whether it is her love of Israel, a famous relative or a surprising athletic feat, Katie Applefeld has a lot to share. Here are 10 things to know about this Pikesville native and long-time volunteer, who currently sits on The Associated’s Board of Governors and is Chair of Leadership Giving.  

Her Grandmother … Her Role Model … Was a Trailblazer 

A strong, smart woman, Paula Unger Hamburger, attended Cornell University and the University of Michigan where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1930 and a graduate degree from Columbia University in 1966 – a time when less than 10% of women received college degrees. During the Depression, she was a social worker in New York City, later moving to Baltimore where she helped found the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Community Psychiatry Mental Health Program in East Baltimore. 

“My grandmother, who was way ahead of her time, showed me what women could do,” says Katie. “Not only that, she also was very proud of her Jewish identity and believed that giving back was a priority. Even when she was working during the Depression, when salaries were tight, she made sure to make charitable contributions.” 

Katie’s Associated involvement began as a young adult. 

She actively became involved in The Associated when asked to participate in the Tzedakah Project. The project, a joint program of the planning and development departments, brought together a group of young adults who learned about The Associated network and the allocation process. They were given funds and asked to make allocation recommendations – both locally and through The Associated’s overseas partners – based on the community’s priorities. 

Shortly afterwards, Katie became first Vice Chair of IMPACT (now the Young Adult Division) and participated in Dor Tikvah, a two-year leadership development program for women, ages 30 and 45. As part of that program, she had the opportunity to observe a board.  

“I had never been to Israel, yet all I wanted to do was sit on the Israel and Overseas board,” she recalls. Making it her first and second choices, she prevailed – and since then has never looked back. 

Katie Applefeld with husband in Israel

Israel is her passion. 

It may have taken Katie a while to get to Israel, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t passionate about the Jewish State from as early as she can remember. As a teenager, she dreamed of living on a kibbutz; yet it wasn’t until she was a member of Jewish Federation of North America’s (JFNA) National Young Leadership Cabinet that she made her first trip there.  

She’s traveled to Israel multiple times since – including for her son’s bar mitzvah – and brought her love for the Jewish State to her volunteer work at The Associated, including chairing the Israel and Overseas committee. 

“Although I am a sixth-generation American, when I am in Israel, I get a special feeling unlike anywhere else in the world.” 

Chaim Weizmann was her great-grandfather’s first cousin. 

She recently returned from a Solidarity Mission to Israel. 

In November, Katie joined Baltimore Jewish leadership on a two-day Solidarity Mission to Israel following the terrorist attacks. During the brief visit, they met with survivors of the terrorist attacks at K’far Aza Kibbutz in southern Israel. Not only did the group learn more about the atrocities, but they heard tales of heroism. They saw how campaign dollars were being used to help those who lost everything. And they visited Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, our partner city, touring the ER, ICU and operating rooms that were built underground to withstand rocket fire. 

“When I was at Barzilai, I saw a wounded soldier come in, probably the same age as my son. It reminded me how real this is, and I immediately thought, ‘this is family.’” 

Two Jewish grandmothers play matchmaker. 

On the evening before Thanksgiving, Katie attended a party with her grandmother Alice Hecter. It was held at the home of Helene Greif Beckley, one of Alice’s closest friends – who was also the grandmother of Katie’s future husband, Alex Applefeld.  

The next day, Katie’s grandmother called her up. “She said, ‘You’ll never guess who asked for your phone number?’ To this day, I still think it was a set-up between the two grandparents. But we connected and have been married almost 24 years.” 

She worked for over two decades before committing to being a full-time mother and volunteer. 

She started as a special education teacher, then worked for several Baltimore City nonprofits. She also had a stint at a start-up tech firm

Katie Applefeld with family at O's game

Katie is a die-hard Orioles fan. 

“I love the Orioles. Growing up, my father had a complicated routine to make sure we had a good parking spot at Memorial Stadium. We always went to Sunday afternoon games. I love that they are doing well now, and my kids can experience the renaissance of my favorite team.” 

She once ran a 50K Hat Race. 

“I’m not athletic,” she says. “Just determined.” 

The Associated message she wants everyone to know. 

For the two and a half decades that she’s been involved with The Associated, the community has faced the financial crisis of 2007, a pandemic, unprecedented attacks on Israel and antisemitism, to name a few.  

“We often say we need you now more than ever. Yet we really should be saying ‘now is always.’ We can’t anticipate what the needs might be, but The Associated is always positioned to meet them. When you give to the Annual Campaign, you know that your money will be used in the most effective and efficient way to meet the challenges of the day and take care of those in our community who need our support.” 

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The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

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