OTTAWA — Andrea Freedman, the new president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa (JFO), officially assumed her duties on March 11, succeeding Mitchell Bellman, who held the position for the past 15 years.
“The first week has been great. People have been terrific, incredibly warm and welcoming, and very committed to the community,” said Freedman.
Coming from Toronto where she was vice-president of philanthropy and operations at the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, Freedman is a Montreal native who previously lived in Ottawa while a student at Carleton University. A circuitous career path has brought her full circle, back to the city.
Following her graduation from McGill University with a degree in political science, Freedman spent a year in Israel with Project Otzma, which offers young Jewish adults the opportunity to live and volunteer in Israel. On her return to Canada, she enrolled at Carleton University for a master’s program in political science, intending to go on to law school and volunteer in the Jewish community.
An application she made for a summer job was passed along to the executive director of the Jewish Community Centre in Springfield, Mass., who hired Freedman as a full-time youth director, a job that lasted for the next two years and forever changed her career path. She returned to school at the University of Michigan for a master’s degree in social work and Jewish communal work, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After a six-year stint back in Montreal, working for Federation CJA, Freedman moved to Toronto, beginning as associate campaign director at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto; then director of special initiatives for Jewish Toronto Tomorrow; then national director of planning and development at Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA, the national umbrella organization of Canada’s Jewish federations.
Freedman’s immediate goals in Ottawa include meeting as many people as possible and beginning to build relationships. “Top of my list is reaching out to our donors, heads of community organizations, board members, rabbis and members of the community,” she said. “I hope to create a more integrated and holistic fundraising effort,” between federation and the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation (OJCF).
“There is an excitement, enthusiasm and real positive energy that I feel from the community and that I am ready to contribute to,” said Freedman. “To focus on issues that are meaningful to you – it is a privilege to be able to do it for your job.”
The community is equally enthusiastic in welcoming Freedman to her new position. “From the moment outgoing CEO Mitchell Bellman announced his resignation in August, the federation board has worked tirelessly to ensure that the organization would find the best possible candidate for the job, a superb new leader to help take us forward. In hiring Andrea, we have accomplished our goal,” said federation chair Debbie Halton-Weiss.