Julie Davidson Meyers says she feels “very blessed” to have found her new position, as executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer County.
Taking up the reins of a philanthropic organization during a recession might not have looked that inviting to others, but Meyers clearly relishes the challenge.
Meyers is characteristically forthright when she’s asked about donors who may be wary of the way charities are spending and investing their money.
“I welcome that question — as a fund-raiser and as a donor,” she said. “This organization has proved its transparency. I implore people to demand that always, and I hope it’s the case when they come to us — that they expect that transparency.”
Just six weeks into the job, Meyers already sounded very much at ease with the foundation’s role as a resource for people eager to support the Jewish community now and into the future. Established in 1963, it offers a number of investment options, and now manages assets totaling approximately $11 million.
Meyers sees her role as helping people. “We’re here for the community,” she said, “for donors wanting to make sensible giving decisions.” And while they come to the organization because of what it represents, it is the person-to-person contact she feels makes the big difference.
Meyers comes to the JCF as the result of what she calls “a lovely dilemma.” She said she loved her last job as director of development with HiTOPS, an adolescent health care organization in Princeton — a position she had no intention of leaving.
“But it was a 40-minute drive from our home in Lawrenceville, and I’d had a second baby,” she recalled in an interview Oct. 27. Then she saw the advertisement for the position with the foundation, whose offices are in her hometown. “It seemed like an amazing opportunity, but I was so torn,” she said.
Her husband, Jonathan, reminded her it was helping Jewish community (“which is my passion,” she said) and it was part-time.
The dilemma was settled after she learned the foundation is in the same complex as a daycare center, perfect for daughters Dylan, now two-and-a-half, and Aliya, nine months.
She praised the president of the foundation, Florence Kahn, and Heather Berman, its administrative director. “The president is magnificent,” Meyers said. “She’s done fund-raising work herself, and she has really good ideas. And Heather and I immediately found we had so many things in common. We work very well together.”
Meyers, who grew up in the Bronx, was 19 when she lost her mother to cancer. Remembering both her mother’s generosity to those in need, and her suffering, Meyers found herself driven to help others. “I finally realized that I could make a career of sharing what I’m passionate about and getting other people passionate about it too.”