Beth Levithan of Short Hills has been elected chair of the board of trustees of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, following the death of its founding chair, Lester Z. Lieberman, in November.
Levithan joined the organization’s board in 1997 and served for a number of years as first vice chair, taking on more of the leadership role as Lieberman’s health declined.
Lieberman established the foundation, just the year before Levithan joined, to manage money raised by the sale of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to the Saint Barnabas Healthcare System. Since then, the foundation has disbursed over $100 million in grants to benefit the under-served in Newark and the Jewish community of MetroWest NJ.
Levithan, who was president of NJ Jewish News from 2005 to 2007, knew her experience as a program evaluator would help with the assessment of grant requests flooding into the foundation.
“This is what I’d been trained to do. It was a great shidduch — a dream come true for both sides,” she told NJJN last week. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great organization with a very special board of people who are so experienced and all very involved, and I learn something new every day.”
She described Lieberman as “a genius” and said his legacy will be upheld. And while “the mission of the foundation won’t change,” she added, “our approach has to change.”
Most recently, that has meant dealing with the Affordable Care Act, with capital grants to fund the electronic systems needed to handle ACA data at a number of hospitals and health-care organizations. Among the funded projects is one to prevent and treat delirium in hospitalized patients, a program that Levithan said has already yielded measurable improvements.
“Beth is the perfect successor to Lester Lieberman,” said Marsha Atkind, the foundation’s executive director and herself a former NJJN president. “Giving away money is easy, but it’s not easy to do it well. Her extensive experience and knowledge of how to evaluate which requests can be successful is invaluable.”
Levithan started her career as a kindergarten teacher in the South Boston Public Schools. She went on to earn an MSW and PhD from Rutgers in New Brunswick and served as an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Social Work before becoming a senior researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, where she specialized in program evaluation.
Active as a community volunteer since 1972, she served on the boards or as an officer of Theresa Grotta Center for Rehabilitation, the Charles Bierman Home, Daughters of Israel, JCC MetroWest, and the Rachel Coalition, where she cochaired the first Run for Rachel to benefit the organization that helps victims of domestic abuse. In addition, she served on the boards of both the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and its Women’s Department and has chaired various federation committees, including strategic planning and marketing. She has also led several federation missions to Israel, both alone and with her husband, Allen.
For all her dedication to the foundation, Levithan said she has one other pet project. Six years ago, she cochaired a production of The Vagina Monologues for the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, designed to raise awareness of violence against women, and she is now cochairing, with Myrna Wertheimer, the section’s One Billion Rising for Justice event, part of a global effort to end such violence. It takes place on Friday, Feb. 14, at the NJ National Guard Armory in West Orange, and, she said, she is hoping for a capacity turnout.
Levithan and her husband have two sons, David and Adam, and three grandchildren.