Nancy Kutler: Still Hard at Work

Nancy Kutler

Nancy Kutler, president of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s (JMM) Board of Trustees and active community member, talks about finding a ‘second career’ as a volunteer, post-retirement.

How many years must you live here before you can actually say you are “from” the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area?

Nancy grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to the area for her husband’s job back in 1982. Yea, we think that counts.

A career path in Jewish communal service

As a former middle/high school English teacher during the time of a recession, Nancy was considering a career change as she and her husband were planning their move to the DMV area. “I had always been very active on a volunteer basis, as a teen and a young adult, in Jewish causes. I had just never realized that it would be a career for me. So, when I came to this area, I went right to graduate school for a double master’s in social work and Jewish history.”

First job post-graduate school?

“I graduated in 1984 and started my career at The Associated where I retired from in 2016. For half of my time at The Associated I worked in community planning and allocations and the other half was spent in a newly created department at the time, called the Center for Funds and Foundations, which was designed to provide direction and advice to donors with supporting foundations and donor-advised funds at The Associated.”

How have the priorities shifted over the years?

“We definitely look more at embracing diversity and outreach to different populations and causes today. We are really seeing a much larger tent in terms of our efforts to be more inclusive. Also, social justice is a big piece now…repairing the world more broadly. By way of example, I sit on the Blaustein Fund Selection Committee and so many proposals that we are considering this year integrate care for the environment, something that would not have been proposed many years ago.”

Volunteer work at the JMM

“After retirement, I got involved with the JMM sort of organically and it turned out to be a really good match. I started there volunteering as a docent where I drew upon my teaching background. Eventually, I was part of the development committee and then sat on the board where I became president in 2020.”

What are you most excited about?

“We are looking to create a downtown Jewish hub for young people. I like to call it Lombard and Lloyd, since it is the current intersection of the Jewish Museum and the place where the Jewish community first put down roots.”

Favorite exhibit?

“For me, it was our last exhibit called A Fence Around the Torah which looked at the barriers to involvement in the community and feeling safe and unsafe in Jewish spaces. It forced us to really take a look at ourselves as a community and examine how we include or exclude people and was a great example of a participatory exhibit. ‘People support what they help to create.’ It was a very complex and sensitive topic and, in the end, a really remarkable exhibit that got a lot of attention from all ages and backgrounds. It’s going to be traveling to several other spaces outside of Baltimore.”

Nancy Kutler

Silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“My daughter was supposed to get married in June 2020 with over 100 people in attendance that ended up getting canceled due to the pandemic. By the fall, when we realized the pandemic wasn’t ending anytime soon, they moved forward with their wedding plans to include 18 people for an intimate ceremony at Loch Raven reservoir. It was absolutely the best wedding we could have ever asked for. They incorporated some very special moments. And today, the exciting news is that I am going to be a first-time grandmother this June.”

Mind. Body. Community.

“I had this motto when I retired – Mind, Body, Community that keeps me active and engaged and here’s how that breaks down:

Mind – I go to various lectures and take cI go to various lectures and take classes. My husband and I started an on-line art history class and of course, I love the theater and have been in a book club for the past 25 years.

Body – I love playing any sport with a ball. I play a lot of pickleball and I golf. I also take Pilates classes.

Community – As the child of two Holocaust survivors I am very involved in the Baltimore Jewish Council speaker’s bureau of Holocaust survivors and descendants. I feel it is my legacy and important to continue to tell my mom’s story. I also volunteer in a school in Baltimore city helping first graders with their reading.”

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