Judy Coran is the current Women’s Campaign Chair for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign. She spoke recently with The Chronicle. Excerpts of that conversation follow.
Tell me about your background.
I grew up in Fox Point and attended Nicolet High School. I went on to attend Indiana University as an undergraduate and then the University of Wisconsin – Madison for medical school. I completed my residency at Tufts University in Boston and my fellowship at Brown University.
I work as an ophthalmologist specializing in cornea and external disease. My husband, David, is a spine surgeon. We have 3 children—Aly is 22 and a recent college graduate working in Chicago, Danny is a college junior and Jake is a college freshman. David is very involved in tzedakah, and is the 2017 chair of The Maimonides Society for the Federation. (The Maimonides Society is an honorary society for health care professionals who donate $1,800 or more to the Federation’s annual campaign.)
Was tzedakah important in your family when you were growing up?
My parents, Muriel and Irving Becker, were very involved in the community while I was growing up. They were on the boards of temple, Federation and Hadassah. I grew up in a house where we discussed the importance of giving back and where I learned simply by example. I have three sisters who are actively involved in tzedakah in their communities. My sisters Ellen Friedler and Linda Ginsburg are very involved in the Chicago Federation, and my sister Nancy Sheldon is involved in multiple charitable projects in Santa Barbara. All three of my sisters as well as my mother are Lions of Judah. (Lion of Judah is a national society of women who give an annual campaign gift of $5,000 or more to their local Jewish Federations.)
Tennis is also important to your family. Can you tell me about that?
I grew up as a competitive tennis player. Our children grew up with the game, and two of them played on their varsity teams in college. I’m also on the board of the Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation. It’s an amazing organization serving over 34,000 Milwaukee children with literacy and tennis programming after school, and throughout the summers. They not only learn how to play tennis, but they build academic and life skills.
How did you become involved in the Milwaukee Jewish Federation?
I’ve become more active now that I’m a recent empty nester, but I’ve been involved since I moved to Milwaukee in 1997. I was familiar with Federation, and knew they allocated funds to multiple organizations throughout the city. I decided I would put my faith in them to spend my donated money wisely.
Over the years, I learned more and more about the Federation, and I realized that my trust was merited. The Federation invests our donations thoughtfully and wisely and is helping people in need both here in Milwaukee and around the world. I’ve met many people who were helped, and sometimes even saved by Federation programs.
Of all the charitable organizations you could be involved with, why did you choose the Federation?
Diversity. The Federation does so many different things from educating our children to helping our seniors. It’s like a charitable version of an investment fund manager. I give my money to the Federation to invest in a diverse portfolio of charitable projects. I don’t have time to research every investment option – for my personal investments or my charitable gifts. The Federation addresses needs that I don’t even know about. Also, I want to support Jewish causes. If Jews don’t support the needs of our own people, no one else will.
Do you have any goals as Women’s Campaign Chair?
My goal is to increase support for the Federation. I do that by helping people in our community understand why donating to the Federation’s Annual Campaign is not just a good idea but an imperative. I’m also hoping to increase our volunteer workforce so that we remain strong for years and years to come.
If you are Jewish, you are touched by the Federation – if you read the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle or visit Jewish Museum Milwaukee, if your children go to religious school or a day school, if you work out at the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC or attend programs there, if your kids are involved with BBYO or Hillel.
As individuals, we don’t always know where the need is. The Federation’s role is to identify the needs and figure out how to meet them. They do their research and know what’s going on here and abroad. You never know what your needs will be. You don’t know what the future will hold.
Stephanie Wagner is vice president of communications and strategy for Milwaukee Jewish Federation.