Gayle Morris (photo from jewishvancouver.com)
Gayle Morris joined the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver this summer as its annual campaign director. Morris arrives to the role with an abundance of experience in helping people both within the Jewish community and throughout the Greater Vancouver area.
Crediting “great mentors” for guiding her through several leadership and business strategist positions, Morris carries a CV that stretches from crown corporations to startups to nonprofit organizations. She also has volunteered with various Jewish community groups, including Congregation Beth Tikvah, where her son had his bar mitzvah, and has served on the City of Richmond’s Advisory Committee for Sister City Relations.
“Building relationships is central to all that I do,” she told the Independent. “For me, volunteerism has so many benefits and is quite humbling. Fast forward to this year, on June 19, I co-chaired Chabad Richmond’s 25th anniversary celebration honouring two individuals [Rabbi Yechiel and Chanie Baitelman] who I admire and respect. Planning and executing this community-wide event where 380 people were in attendance, along with overseeing a committee of volunteers, truly led me and propelled me into the role at Jewish Federation. I am honoured to take this role, so I can deepen my relationships in the community and help Federation support Greater Vancouver, Israel and the incredible partner organizations and programs here and overseas.”
As campaign director, Morris is integral to the planning, support and execution of the campaign to ensure it raises the funds necessary to meet the growing and evolving needs of the community.
“Being new to the position, the team collaboration and support among all Federation departments is invaluable,” said Morris. “Everyone brings so much value, wisdom and knowledge, which has contributed to my easing into the position as campaign director.”
Morris emphasized that “challenges” is not a word she employs frequently. She prefers to view such circumstances as opportunities that demonstrate the need to respond to changes in the environment.
“Just as we were coming out of a pandemic, the world has been hit with inflation, unlike anything we have seen in decades,” she said. “Soaring costs are wreaking havoc on families, individuals and seniors. Our partner agencies are being hit hard – their costs to deliver their services and programs are rising, while at the same time they are receiving more requests for help and cannot pass on the added costs to their clients. Our partners rely on a healthy Federation annual campaign to help provide financial stability so they can continue their important work.”
Morris could not be more excited to be spearheading the initiative. “I love it! I have always felt a strong connection to my Jewish heritage and, as a second generation Vancouverite, I am familiar with our local Jewish community,” she said.
“My appreciation, affinity and commitment to Israel have always been important to me. Two months into this role now, I have had the opportunity to observe, connect and engage and bring my skill set, passion and purpose to Jewish Federation. There is so much team collaboration and support. Overseeing all aspects of stewardship in this vitally important role, I believe, is a perfect fit for me.”
Federation’s annual campaign is the largest in the community and takes planning and input from across all departments of the organization. The local and global engagement departments, according to Morris, make every effort to be aware of the new and evolving needs of the community through work with Federation’s partners. In turn, this helps inform the focus of each year’s campaign.
Meanwhile, the marketing and campaign teams include, she said, “amazing volunteer members who work closely together to develop the creative and programming to engage our community and draw attention to community needs.”
Morris has expanded her team by bringing on Estelle Tabenkin and Ronen Sabag to join her and women’s philanthropy campaign manager Ricki Thal. “I am extremely grateful to have a team who share in Federation’s community leadership drive and outpouring of services,” said Morris.
“All that we do throughout the year is built on our core values of tikkun olam, tzedakah, klal Israel and chesed, and this is how we create a vibrant, caring and inclusive community that I am so grateful to call home.”
The Federation campaign kicked off Sept. 8 and runs through the end of December. For more information, visit jewishvancouver.com/annual-campaign.
Sam Margolis has written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.