Marc Newburgh has been chosen to take over as executive director of Hillel of Greater Toronto when 18-year veteran Zac Kaye retires next month.
“I’m honoured and humbled that the Toronto Jewish community entrusted me with this immense responsibility,” he told The CJN. “I really was just astounded that my life’s journey had taken this path.”
Originally from New York City, Newburgh has worked in the insurance industry for 34 years, most recently with Pinnacle Adjusters Group as vice-president. He said he decided to get involved with Hillel after being inspired by his children’s experiences on campus.
His children, Zach and Jonathan, were also born in New York City, but the family moved to Oakville, Ont., when they were children. Oakville isn’t your typical Jewish community, Newburgh said, but both Zach and Jonathan were set on their Jewish journeys after attending Camp George.
“As they went on their Jewish journey, as their parent, I went on my own Jewish journey,” Newburgh said, adding that his journey has involved chasing his strong desire to “do good.”
When the executive director position opened up and he told his family he was considering applying, he said they told him it was the perfect job for him.
“‘It’s what you love. You’ll touch so many young lives,’” he said they told him.
His oldest son, Zach, 24, became heavily involved with Hillel Montreal during his studies at McGill University, and Jonathan, 21, is graduating from the same school this year. Their experiences have shaped Newburgh into someone who wants to help and inspire young adults.
“I feel so connected to my kids and feel the joy of what they do as young adults,” he said.
Following in Kaye’s huge footsteps is a little daunting, he said.
However, Shelly Feld, chair and president of Hillel’s board, said he’s confident that Newburgh’s experience in the private sector is exactly what the organization needs.
“He brings the personality, passion and practicality required for success in engaging the diverse student bodies that Hillel represents,” Feld said. “His private-sector business experience, fundraising capability, strengths as a communicator and his charismatic nature will enable him to continue raise Hillel’s profile in the community and collaborate successfully with our numerous partners and stakeholders.”
Part of his vision includes forming more partnerships with non-Jewish campus groups and reaching out to the broader community, as well as continuing to engage Jews who aren’t yet affiliated with Hillel, Newburgh said.
The ability to communicate with everybody involved in Hillel, from students to stakeholders and senior donors, was an essential criterion in the job search, said Edward Prutschi, chair of the search committee.
The committee was also looking for someone with the ability to “lead with a good fiscal head,” and someone with “tremendous vision” for the organization, he added. “We’re really excited to find somebody who can cover those really diverse requirements.”
Newburgh said he’s looking forward to working with students from all backgrounds, giving them an entry point into Jewish campus life and Jewish community life.
“I’m excited and thrilled and so looking forward to working with everybody,” he said.