Rachael Badt, the senior regional director of BBYO—Wisconsin Region, is leaving after 16 years.
In that time, she has worked to build relationships with teens, advisors and stakeholders with programming for the Jewish community.
“Leaving is bittersweet. It’s been an amazing 16 years. They’ve flown by,” said Badt, whose next move is executive director of Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation. “I’m really proud of the BBYO Wisconsin region, which has a long history here in Wisconsin. It’s a wonderful, amazing program I have been a part of for as long as I have.”
The organization has had four regional directors in 40 years, including Badt. Her last day will be Aug. 2.
“Rachael is incredible at the job she’s done building up the region,” says Gary Levin, senior vice president, community impact at BBYO. “She’s put on amazing programs that bring Jewish teens together to connect with each other and express their Judaism. They build lasting relationships and ensure Jewish continuity.”
Badt has worked to increase the BBYO program in depth and quality. She has grown active membership – over 300 – by two to three percent each year, she said. The young people come in as eighth graders and leave as high school seniors. “Along the way they get this connection of Judaism and social action and community service. They’re learning leadership skills and personal skills,” Badt said.
Badt took over all fundraising for BBYO as well as youth programming. Milwaukee Jewish Federation is a large donor, comprising 25-30 percent of the fundraising, Badt said.
Badt feels that her biggest accomplishment is staying relevant all these years. “We do a lot of the same things over and over again, like a convention every December, but that convention has a different feel, a different theme, different speakers. We try to stay right on top of what the teens are thinking about and caring about,” she said.
She emailed her goodbyes to teens, alumni, parents and advisors. To teens, she wrote, “You are everything to BBYO and me. You challenge me to let me challenge you and make me a better person every moment I get to spend with you.”
To alumni, she emailed, “Watching you blossom and grow throughout the BBYO experience and beyond (thanks to social media) brings me such joy. When I hear from you years later about how much BBYO means to you still, I know I did something right.”
Badt said she had never worked with teens before coming to BBYO. She was in radio marketing, events and promotion. During her time at BBYO, she married Marty Badt, a tennis pro with Elite Sports Club, and now has a five-year-old girl, Millie. “I plan for her to be a BBYO regional n’siah (female president) in 13 years,” she said.
Badt’s next job will mean working with lower-income youth using tennis to teach personal and leadership skills. She’ll stay Jewishly connected through her synagogue memberships at Beth Israel Ner Tamid and Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun.
The search is on for Badt’s replacement.
Matt Lemchen, area director, wrote his thanks and best wishes for Badt in an email sent throughout the organization. “Rachael is leaving a lasting and positive legacy with the region and throughout our entire BBYO movement.” Lemchen expressed gratitude for “everything she has done to strengthen the region, develop community support to sustain the program and provide impactful experiences for an entire generation of teens throughout the past 16 years.”