New federation market head extols ‘values’
It’s a long way from Texas to Whippany, where Mark Gordon has assumed the position of chief marketing officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Gordon grew up in New Braunfels, between Austin and San Antonio, in “a very Christian, very conservative environment.”
Gordon is not Jewish, but Judaism is definitely “in my family,” he told NJ Jewish News in a March 31 interview. “My father was a non-practicing Jew and my mother was a Southern Baptist who did not go to church very often. My uncle, who lives in this area, is a Reform but very casual Jew, and we have a seder every year.”
On March 21, Gordon replaced Melanie Roth Gorelick, the Community Relations Committee director, who doubled as interim marketing director since September, following the departure of director Shelley Labiner. This is not Gordon’s first job in Jewish communal service; he served as a consultant on a two-year overhaul of Yeshiva University’s website, and, when that assignment ended in 2011, he moved to JCC Manhattan as its senior director of digital communications.
At YU, Gordon said, he began “immersing myself in Modern Orthodox culture. It gave me new insight into Jewish values. We say ‘Jewish values’ — but they are just values. They are good statements that everyone can agree to, especially in marketing.”
Given his experience dealing with the Internet, Gordon said, he believes the federation’s marketing mission will take on an additional on-line and social media presence under his guidance. “I will support the continuation of social media efforts that began before I got here. We want to be able to interact with our constituents in a more impactful manner, so I think a lot has to do with the way people are using their computers, their phones, their iPads, and we want to be there.
“We want people to be able to go on line, find what they are looking for, connect with it, and sign up for programs, make donations, and discover volunteer opportunities” at the federation, said Gordon. “A lot of those opportunities will come through the digital space.”
Asked how he would engage older donors and volunteers who are less frequent users of the Internet and social media, Gordon said, “Older people have a way of connecting with the federation already through newspapers and direct mailings, or they come in. They don’t use social media. But there are plenty of people over 60 who do use social media.”
Among the positive changes he hopes to continue building at the federation, Gordon said, is a focus on “younger audiences”; he believes “there are ways we can connect more with them — and not only with the federation. We have the broader and more important task of helping to build a culture of philanthropy within the younger community, and that will be beneficial to both the federation and the community.”
Asked what his message to readers is regarding federation, Gordon urged them to “get involved. Be a part of the federation however you can. Volunteer. Participate in events. Help build the community. That is what we are all about.”