A new, tan face is taking the helm as senior director of camp and youth services at the Jewish Community Center. Betsy Schwartz landed in snowy Louisville fresh from Sarasota, FL, where she’s been the director of major programs for Jewish Family & Children’s Services since 2007. Before that she worked at the Sarasota JCC for almost a decade in a number of leadership capacities.
Donning a hooded sweatshirt on a particularly teeth-chattering day, she promised she wasn’t having second thoughts.
“I’m up for a new challenge,” she said.
She’s ready to return to four seasons. After all, she grew up in Maine, earned her BA from the University of Vermont and her master’s in social work from Boston University, and began her long career with JCCs in Massachusetts.
And, she’s ready to work solely with kids and camps. For her, that’s where the real fun is.
“I always said the perfect job for me would be at camp 24/7,” she said. “Jewish identity is important and camp is where you get it, studies show. I want to be a part of that.”
Sarasota never felt like her forever home. She was thinking of making a move when the job in Louisville came open. Stew Bromberg, vice president and chief development officer for the Jewish Community of Louisville, encouraged her to apply. The two had worked together more than 20 years ago at the Leventhal-Sidman JCC in Newton, Mass., and hadn’t lost touch.
“Betsy was the director of the singles department and she was always upbeat, smiling and developing programs that our single members of all ages could relate to and enjoy. We worked together on the development of two successful programs and I always found Betsy’s optimistic and lively personality to be infectious. I truly believe that the Louisville Jewish community will benefit greatly from the addition of Betsy Schwartz to our staff,” Bromberg said.
He told her she’d find the city of Louisville and the local Jewish community as welcoming as he has.
She visited only briefly when she decided he was right.
“It was the kind of town I was looking for,” she said. “I’m looking forward to connecting to a warm Jewish community.”
She’s bought a bungalow in St. Mathews and is happy to have a basement once again and is enjoying how friendly the people of Louisville are, even strangers.
Her only regret leaving is that her two sons, Drew and Troy St. Pierre, back in Sarasota where one is finishing his first year of college and the other is finishing his senior year of high school.
She said she’s looking forward to building relationships with the JCC’s families and hearing what they’d like from camps and youth services.
She has big shoes to fill. Julie Hollander was the beloved camp director for four years before taking a position as the Senior Associate for Teen Programming at the Jewish Volunteer Connection which is part of the Associated Baltimore Federation. Under Hollander’s watch, the camp program was lifted to new heights, the children’s department enjoyed creative new programs and she worked successfully to bring together all JCL family programs to create a cohesive team.
Schwarz said she’d like to continue that forward momentum, with particular attention to building the camp program throughout the year so it’s as recognized in other seasons as it is in summer.
“I hope to keep building the great reputation and grow the year-long presence of camp, so it’s more than just summer camp,” Schwartz said.