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MJF executive vice president Meyer to resign
August 1st, 2011
Milwaukee Jewish Federation President Jerry Benjamin announced on July 28 that long-time MJF Executive Vice President Richard H. (“Rick”) Meyer has tendered his resignation.
Richard H. Meyer
His official duties will conclude on Aug. 31. He will continue to assist the Federation in organizational and transitional issues through the end of the year.
Meyer, who is originally from Los Angeles, came to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation in 1984 as campaign director. He has served in the role of executive since 1989.
“During his tenure, Rick has partnered effectively with staff and volunteer leadership, as well as with our agencies, to build and maintain a strong and vibrant Jewish community,” said Benjamin.
“He has worked modestly and tirelessly to make the Milwaukee Jewish Federation the outstanding organization it is today,” he added.
Under Meyer’s leadership, the Federation participated in both Operation Exodus, which brought more than a million Jews out of the Soviet Union — including 3,000 who immigrated to Milwaukee — and in the later initiatives that brought Ethiopians to Israel.
• Spearheading the successful 2004-2008 Community Capital Campaign which exceeded its goal by raising $46.5 million for the expansion and renovation of our community’s facility infrastructure.
• Moving the Milwaukee Jewish Federation to a collaborative model for financial resource development.
• Partnering with staff and lay leadership to initiate the Community Covenant of 2010 and the more recent MJF “Reimagining” project.
• Steering the Milwaukee Jewish community safely through the economic downturn of 2008-2009.
Throughout his service in Milwaukee, Meyer advocated strongly for a balance in resource allocation between local and Israel/overseas programming.
“Rick’s command of the Jewish experience and his understanding of our needs as a people are unparalleled,” Benjamin added. “He is one of the finest professionals I’ve worked with, and he has enormous personal and professional integrity.”
“I’ve known Rick since his arrival in Milwaukee with his two precious daughters, and I was at the hospital when his son was born,” said former MJF President Betsy L. Green.
“I’ve worked with him for 27 years and watched him move our Federation to become one of the premier organizations in the country. He’s a role model, a great partner and a very special friend,” Green said.
MJF Past President Jerry Stein recalls that he was campaign chair when Meyer arrived as the new campaign director in 1984.
“We mentored one another: I taught him about our community; he taught me about tzedakah. For me, Rick epitomizes the Einstein quote: ‘Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,’” Stein said.
“One of the great moments of Rick’s tenure came in 1998, when we put together our community’s largest-ever mission trip to celebrate Israel’s 50th anniversary,” Stein recalled. “We watched as an El Al 747 landed at Mitchell Airport, and we cheered and wept on the tarmac.”
“Rick is a great friend and an important part of the big family that is our Jewish community,” he said.
David Lubar, who also served as MJF president during Meyer’s tenure, said: “On behalf of our community, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Rick for his many years of strong leadership, deep care and concern, and tireless efforts in guiding and developing our community. It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with him. I treasure our relationship and look forward to continuing to seek his advice and counsel on Milwaukee Jewish community matters in the years ahead.”
Meyer was first hired to work at MJF by Bob Aronson, who currently splits his time between the Birthright Israel Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. More than a quarter century later, Aronson continues to admire Meyer’s skills and character.
“Rick is one of the outstanding professionals in American Jewish life today and a true leader on the national Federation executives’ scene. He is a respected colleague and also a beloved friend,” Aronson said.
“It has been a great run,” said Meyer, “and I’ve enjoyed waking up every morning and embracing my work with enthusiasm. For the past several months, though, I’ve come to believe that the time is right for a change — for me personally, and for this community that I love, particularly as we move forward to design the Federation that will support the future community we dreamed about at the Summit,” he said.
Meyer’s responsibilities will be transferred to MJF Planning Director Sheryl Primakow on Aug. 31, and she will assume the role of interim executive director, according to Benjamin.
“Although my official duties will conclude at the end of August,” Meyer said, “I will continue to assist staff and lay leaders in organizational and transitional issues. I wish this wonderful community all the best.”