Life is good for Hillel Milwaukee’s incoming executive director.
When asked how excited, on a scale of 1 to 10, she was about her new job, Deb Carneol Fendrich quickly exclaimed, “11!”
“I am honored for the opportunity,” she said. “When I started working for Hillel, I knew this was my home and I had found the right path. This age group and this kind of life is so important, and I love being part of it. I like shaping what Jewish life can look like beyond college. I have truly found my calling with Hillel.”
Fendrich will officially transition from assistant director to executive director on Sept. 8, taking over for Julie Schack, who will become the vice president of philanthropy at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, overseeing its annual fundraising.
Learned from Julie Schack
“I learned a lot from Julie,” said Fendrich, who became the director of Jewish student life at Hillel Milwaukee in 2016 and was promoted to assistant director in 2018. “She has not only been a supervisor but a mentor who has taught me the value of partnership, the importance of making connections and building relationships.”
Fendrich said she and Schack have spent the summer doing “lots of hands-on work together. She wants to make sure it’s a smooth transition.”
Fendrich added, “(Schack’s) vision has been my vision and I want to continue her work and build on it. I want to continue to make strides engaging with students.”
Fendrich said Hillel Milwaukee serves up to 12 different campuses in the Milwaukee area.
“It’s all about interaction with students,” she said. “We want people to leave having enjoyed the experience and interaction and ensure that students have a connection to the Jewish world through us. I want to really cultivate this Jewish population now while they are making their plans. We hope they make this their permanent home.”
Fendrich, 32, was born and raised in Milwaukee. She attended Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Nicolet High School. She earned an undergraduate degree in communications at the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Remembers Minnesota Hillel
Fendrich, who chose Minnesota “knowing it had an active and vibrant Jewish community,” said she knew she would get involved in Hillel. She met her best friends at Hillel, where she enjoyed planning Purim celebrations and leading Shabbat services.
“All through my college career I knew I wanted to work in the Jewish community with later teens and young adults; ages I was passionate about,” Fendrich said. “Once I graduated, I could have seen myself working with temple youth groups, BBYO or Hillel. I knew I wanted to work in the community that really helped raise me and made me what I am. I am a product of Jewish communal life and I wanted to give back to that.”
She said about 95 percent of those involved with Hillel come from UW-Milwaukee, Marquette and MSOE. Milwaukee Hillel engaged about 20 percent more students this year than in 2019, she said. “We ask students what programs they want and we help make that a reality,” she said.
Her parents, Susan and Allan Carneol, sit on various Jewish boards and committees.
Fendrich and husband Ben, a social worker, have a 1-year-old daughter, Logan. They belong to Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun.
Fendrich, a recipient of the Anna Agulnick Young Professional Award from Women’s Philanthropy of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, concluded, “I am excited to learn, to grow and continue to make the Milwaukee Jewish community an incredibly strong community.”