Michelle Hubertus of Short Hills and Danielle Harris-Baker of Hoboken are among 25 Jewish leaders — and the only ones from New Jersey — selected from across the country to participate in a new undertaking launched by Hadassah.
As participants in the two-year Hadassah Leadership Fellows program, they will learn from prominent Jewish leaders in the United States and Israel, and aim to launch pilot programs in one of four key areas: women’s health and medical research, venture capitalism, public policy, and social justice.
Welcoming this first cohort, Hadassah national president Marcie Natan said, “These incredible women have already contributed so much to their local communities, and we are confident that the skills they will further develop through this program will only help them become even stronger leaders.”
Hubertus, a managing director in the risk management department at Citibank, told NJ Jewish News that while all four categories interest her, venture capitalism is her area.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity,” she said. “Given what my work entails, it’s hard to find time to do something traditional with the organization, but this seems like a really good use of my professional talents.” She said her employer urges staff to get involved in not-for-profit projects in their communities.
Hubertus got involved with Hadassah in 1994 when she first moved to the area. Over the years she has chaired numerous Hadassah special event committees, and she now runs her chapter’s committee tasked with initiating outreach to high school-aged members. She and her husband Jim have three children — Rachel (a life member of Hadassah), Jake, and Mark. While looking for activities that would suit Rachel, Hubertus noticed the application for the new leadership program.
The selection process, she said, “involved a pretty rigorous process, including psychological testing, and a group interview.” She added with a laugh, “I think I was chosen because they liked my large Rolodex” of contacts.
Hubertus also serves on the board of trustees and as treasurer at Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, where her family are members. Over the past 18 years, she has held various leadership positions including president of the local elementary PTO, president of the board of a local Jewish early education center, cochair of Lafayette College Annual Fund for the Class of 1990, member of Millburn Township PTO council, and leader of Girl Scout troop 313.
Harris-Baker, a fourth-generation member of Hadassah, is a domestic relations attorney. She and her husband Scott recently moved to New Jersey after living in Boston for a decade. While there she was a founding member of the New England Anti-Defamation League’s Young Leadership Board and later became a regional board member. Additionally, she served in various capacities with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies Young Leadership Division, chairing a leadership education and development series.
In the first year of the program, participants will travel to Israel and Washington for an inside look at Hadassah programs. In the second year, fellows will join “Impact Boards” representing Hadassah priorities and be given seed money to pilot a program of their choice.