Jeffrey Tiell is the new director of Next Gen for Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and he’s working to engage young Jewish adults. Tiell started Jan. 4
Tiell said wants to leverage the Federation as a convener and connector for Jews ages 21-45.
“That could look like a lot of different things,” he said. It could mean leadership opportunities, professional development, or other ways to get connected.
He said efforts could include doubling down on the George Weinstein Fellowship – a leadership development program – by looking for more ways to include alumni. Or he may work on professional development opportunities for people who want to come back to Milwaukee. Tiell also believes that service work can be a path to engagement.
Path of a Jewish professional
Tiell grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. His journey has been a career in community-based work, and he has served as a community and philanthropic strategist. He worked as a program officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation, one of the leading Jewish funders in the United States.
In 2012, he moved to the Bay Area in California to accept an AmeriCorps VISTA position with the Oakland Unified School District. Previously, he was on an academic track where he was working towards a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning with a focus on community development and engagement.
Tiell received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and master’s degree in city planning with an emphasis on community and economic development from the University of Pennsylvania. “I didn’t think that I was going to be a Jewish professional growing up, even though both my parents were Jewish professionals,” Tiell said.
But he grew connections with Jewish community as an adult and started work in the Jewish world. It formed his path as a Jewish professional. “I found myself hanging around a lot of really compelling, intelligent, lovely Jewish professionals,” he recalled.
Tiell said he cares deeply about how Jews, their families and friends, and Jewish institutions create what it means to belong. Tiell also believes that “boundary-spanning solutions are the key to creating meaningful, sustainable social change.”
He said that Federations and community groups are the types of organizations that sit in a place and engage across that place in a variety of ways. “That’s exciting to me,” he said. “I think those types of institutions have incredible power and saliency.”
“We live in an opt–in culture,” Tiell said. “Federations are essentially competing with Netflix.”
He feels that Federations must “accept or even encourage and support Jews in their community … rather than making people feel like it’s some sort of obligation.”
The Next Gen answer, he said, is “not a guilt trip.”