Welcome Michelle Wachtel, Federation’s New Campaign Director!

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is pleased to welcome Michelle Wachtel to our professional team as our new Campaign Director. We sat down with Michelle to learn more about her background and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing in her new role.

Tell us about your background and what attracted you to the role of Federation’s Senior Campaign Director?
One might say I fell into my career in Jewish communal work. I studied elementary education and Judaic Studies in college, but decided to take a “year off” before starting my career as a teacher.  That year, I served in a fellowship role for Hillel at Drexel University, working with students and helping them to connect to Jewish life on campus. It was through my time at Hillel that I found my passion for Jewish communal work, and I have held roles in this space ever since, including at national Jewish organizations like Hillel International.  I’m thrilled to be at The Jewish Federation as the Senior Campaign Director because this work combines my passion for the Jewish community and for fundraising strategy, and offers me an opportunity to serve the local community in which I live.

You have joined Federation at a pivotal time. What do you see as our greatest opportunity?
I’ve been very inspired by Federation’s strategic planning process. Two of the new areas of focus – millennials/young families and increasing engagement opportunities for Jews in Northern Virginia – I can personally relate to, which makes me even more excited to be part of the work that’s going to go into connecting these groups into the larger Greater Washington Jewish community.

What is it about working in the Jewish communal world that you’re most passionate about?
It’s the people.  I feel lucky to work with colleagues and lay leaders who share in my passion for serving the community, and among whom I can count as teachers as well as friends.  And I love the fact that I can be my full self at work – whether its ending the week with Shabbat Shalom wishes or enjoying lunch in the sukkah.

What excites you about the role philanthropists can play in our community?
What’s exciting is that everybody has the opportunity to be a philanthropist. Regardless of the size of the donation, if it’s meaningful to you as an individual, that’s what matters. In my short time at Federation, I have already seen how our organization will put those funds to work in effective ways to help the community we are serving, and that these funds become part of something much larger as they go towards supporting our local agencies and overseas partners.

What do you like to do in your time away from the office?
I love spending time with my two children, husband and dog. And although we’ve been in the Washington area for 10 years, we continue to find new things to explore throughout the city. I also have a passion for genealogy so, when I have a spare moment, you can find me perusing Ancestry.com to see who else might be part of my family tree – with roots that stem from Cuba and Hungary, I never know who I might find next!