Never doubt the power of networking. Particularly in Jewish Detroit – a community working to identify opportunities that attract and retain a workforce for the future.

Beyond the connections Jewish Detroiters naturally make every day, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit plays a supporting role in introducing employers to potential employees in the community.

In partnership with JVS, Federation now maintains an online job board and hosts NEXTWork, a series of networking events targeting NEXTGeners looking for next moves on their career paths in metro Detroit or exploring opportunities in moving to the city for the first time.

It’s who you know

In 2012, Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy recognized the need for a special niche for working women and launched a series of programs tailored to business topics and inviting women to meet, network and learn from one another.  With the leadership of Marcie Orley  who served as President of Women’s Philanthropy at the time and Lisa Lis, who has championed the program from the start, the working women’s group caught on. Today it has blossomed into a full-fledged affinity group—Federation’s Jewish Working Women’s Network ( JWWN).

“Women have a natural instinct to connect with others, help one another and see each other succeed,” observes Lisa. “Providing opportunities to pool our resources together to help people in our community is something we call Philanthropy Matchmaking (or Shidduch Mitzvot). Our demographic studies tell us that there are about 67,000 Jews in our community and that we are shrinking. But, as we know, we are a close-knit community, deeply rooted in the city, very generous and, quite frankly, the envy among other Jewish communities of our nation. I believe the time is right for women networking to use their influence to help one another succeed in the workplace.”

Drawing from a wealth of business experience and talent in the community, past chairs and gracious hosts for JWWN at events have included  Roz Blanck, Pam Lippitt, Jodie Krasnick, Nancy Stone, Nancy Glen and Lisa Weiner. Outstanding guest speakers have included:

  • Florine Mark, motivational speaker and President and CEO of WW Group and Stacy Goldberg, entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Savorful: On the topic of healthy choices and maintaining work-life balance
  • Ellyn Davidson, Communications professional, Managing Partner, Brogan & Partners and Robin Schwartz, Director of PR for Bedrock Real Estate Services: On networking and communications in the social media age.
  • Harriet Rotter, noted area attorney: On the 5 Best Friends Every Woman Must Have
  • Renee Erlich, Executive Coach and CEO of Prosperi Group with tips on “How to Find Your Best Self”
  • Eva Feldman, Director of the Taubman Center at the University of Michigan: On her journey as neuroscientist and how being a woman affected the opportunities that were afforded to her.
  • Sherrie Margolis and Marla Drutz: On their careers in broadcasting and what it was like as a woman to move forward in a male dominated field.

“You can call it serendipity, but I believe that opportunities don’t present themselves purely by chance. Networking is a skill that we all need to develop,” says Marianne Bloomberg, Associate Director of Philanthropic Engagement. “I can think of numerous examples of women in our community who have found new jobs, new clients or new career directions as a result of coming to one of our networking events.”

  • Just ask Sandy Colvin. Sandy attended a workshop hosted by the Jewish Working Women’s Network where Ellen Lipton (former State Representative of Michigan’s 27th District) stood up to say that more women are needed in the field of politics. Sandy credits that meeting with gaining the courage and impetus she needed to run for office.
  • Just ask Jodie Krasnick, web developer at Huntington Technology and board member of Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy. Jodie has landed several clients through the contacts she has made networking through Federation.

Julie Trepeck Harris

Julie Trepeck Harris

And just ask Julie Trepeck Harris, an attorney who recently moved back to the area, from Chicago, with her husband, Billy Harris, and their young son.  Part of Julie’s job search in Metro Detroit included the help of JVS and Lauren Kepes, NEXTGen Connect Coordinator. When Lauren shared JWWN’s spring event with Julie, featuring guest speaker Renee Erlich, Julie felt it was a must-attend. Not only was the subject matter relevant and important, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and to connect and network in to the Jewish women’s community here in Detroit.

The event – planned as a small gathering to be hosted at Greenspace Café in Ferndale –  was sold out almost immediately. But, thanks to Lauren’s polite persistence and fortuitous timing, two spots opened, allowing Julie and her friend to attend. And it was meant to be (beshert, as we like to call it)!

After the event, Julie reached out to the handful of lawyers she had met, connecting specifically with Marla Jacobs from Resnick Law, PC and Leigh Dones Moss, of counsel to Resnick Law and owner of Moss Law, PLC, both in Bloomfield Hills. From there, they put her in touch with Nate Resnick, the owner of Resnick Law and the rest is job history. Julie joined the Resnick Law as an Associate in November of this year.

Commenting on the chain of events that drew her into the Jewish community, Julie stated, “I am grateful for the connections that JWWN has provided to not only make me feel part of the Jewish community and women’s community here in Detroit, but also for providing events with topics that are applicable, inspiring and helpful to working women. The programs hosted by JWWN are valuable and set an intimate environment to network and meet others, which is what our Jewish Detroit community is all about—-connecting people with whatever resources they may need.”

Next Event

Got a company looking for business? Got an itch to make a career change?  Curious to join the growing network of working women of the Jewish Federation? Make a date for the next JWWN event: Wednesday,  January 18, 2017, an evening with Deborah Grayson Riegel,  President of Elevated Training, Inc, and expert in best practices for presentation and interpersonal communications.   7:00-9:00 pm at the Max M. Fisher Federation Building. For reservations, click here.

Featured in photo, from left to right:  Nancy Stone, Robin Schwartz, Ellyn Davidson, Lisa Weiner and Roz Blanck.