URJ Announces Two New Vice Presidents as 2020 Vision Takes Shape

Amy Asin and Miriam Chilton to play new, key roles

Contact: Annette Powers

DECEMBER 12, SAN ANTONIO, TX – At the organization’s North American board meeting today, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rabbi Rick Jacobs introduced two new vice presidents who will work with him to implement the Union’s 2020 Vision. “As we chart a creative and inviting future for North American Jewry, I know that the Reform Movement, and the entire Jewish community, will benefit from these remarkable leaders,” he said.

Rabbi Jacobs announced that:

Amy Asin, one of the most sought-after synagogue consultants in North America, will join the URJ’s staff as Vice President and Director of Strengthening Congregations.
Miriam Chilton will become a Vice President of the Union. She currently serves as Director of Operations, Strategy and Finance, URJ Camp, Israel and Youth Programs. She will be responsible for all elements of the URJ’s youth work, including camping, Israel, and youth group programming.

“As we head into a new era for the URJ, I am excited that we will be blessed with creative and transformational leaders like Amy and Miriam,” Rabbi Jacobs said.

Rabbi Jacobs further said, “These outstanding leaders join a tremendous staff and a powerful leadership team. The entire URJ staff is working to implement the 2020 Vision, and doing so in creative and effective ways. I am counting on my partner, Senior Vice President Rabbi Jonah Pesner, to play a key role in developing and implementing our strategy across the entire Movement. His leadership has been, and will continue to be, integral to everything we do. I am grateful to have had Mark Pelavin and Barbara Saidel as my right and left hands since assuming the presidency of the URJ. I could not ask for better colleagues, and I am so pleased that each of them will be taking on new responsibilities going forward. Mark will coordinate our entire programmatic staff team and Barbara will coordinate our administrative team. Both will continue to play major roles in every facet of the Union’s work.

Rabbi Jacobs added, “I expect to announce our Strengthening Congregations Team shortly which, with Amy’s leadership, will build a new paradigm of the URJ work in this fundamental area. However, I don’t have to wait a day to celebrate our outstanding youth team: Miriam will partner with Paul Reichenbach, Director of Camping and Israel Programs, whose leadership of our camping system has been and will continue be so critical to its great success; and with URJ Director of Youth Engagement, Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, who will continue to provide creative leadership and vision across our youth system. Miriam, Paul and Bradley have built and supervise a youth and camping staff that is second to none.”

About Amy Asin, Vice President/Director of Strengthening Congregations
[Amy Asin]

Asin, perhaps the nation’s leading synagogue consultant, will head up the Union’s Strengthening Congregations work. She has worked with congregations and organizations across North America guiding and supporting their work on organizational development and strategic planning. Asin has also served as a Senior Consultant with The Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE). For over a decade, she has worked with ECE to design, develop, and implement projects that help congregations become “Congregations of Learners” and “Self-Renewing Congregations” by transforming their approach to congregational education.

Asin has been president of the board of her home congregation, Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA, where she has also taught in children’s and family education programs, and currently serves on the board of URJ Camp Newman. Prior to her professional work in the Jewish community, Asin worked at Booz, Allen, Hamilton, in New York and San Francisco. She has an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School and a BA in economics with high honors from Princeton University. Asin lives in Palo Alto, CA, with her husband. Her two almost adult children have been active participants in NFTY, NFTY Israel, and URJ Camp Newman.

Asin will begin work immediately, and will join the URJ staff full-time in June.

“Amy has been an informal advisor to me and I’m delighted that she will officially be part of the team,” said Rabbi Jacobs. “Every time I leave a meeting with her, I am more impressed with her intelligence, understanding of modern synagogue life, and of organizational and human dynamics. She has been the yardstick against which I have measured other possible candidates for this position. I am so pleased that Amy will now be formally leading our Strengthening Congregations work, and cannot wait to see what her leadership will bring to the Union, congregations, and to the wider Reform Movement.”

Valerie Jahan, immediate past president of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, added, “I have worked with Amy as a consultant over the past few years. She is everything a congregation would want — warm, friendly, trustworthy, observant, knowledgeable, and insightful. She is a keen listener and is able to easily assess an organization and help that organization work toward accomplishing its goals. I am excited that Amy’s work will now impact the URJ’s nearly 900 congregations across North America.”

About Miriam Chilton, Vice President/Youth
[Miriam Chilton]

Chilton, who came to the URJ after 20 years in the corporate world, will become a Vice President of the Union, with wide-ranging responsibility for youth programming, including 14 overnight camps across North America, travel and educational programs in Israel and NFTY (the Reform youth movement). Each summer, the URJ serves close to 12,000 young people and another 7,000 throughout the year.

Chilton has a Masters Degrees in Business Administration and in Information Systems from Boston University. She is a member of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ, where she has held several leadership positions on the temple board including: membership, finance, and religious living.

In announcing Chilton’s appointment, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs noted that “our youth work is the heart of the URJ. This work will thrive and grow under Miriam’s leadership. She brings a deep understanding of, and commitment to, our Movement and our values to everything she does. This is the first time the Union has had a Vice President focused exclusively on youth work, and Miriam’s appointment is another recognition of the centrality of that work to our mission. In her new role Miriam will use her extraordinary skills and leadership to help us all achieve the promise of our clearly articulated youth engagement strategy,” Rabbi Jacobs added.

Chilton’s appointment also drew praise from Peter Weidhorn, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. “I have worked closely with Miriam for years, and cannot think of anyone better to lead the URJ’s youth work. She brings the sharp mind of a savvy businessperson, and the heart of someone who knows firsthand how transformative Jewish camping can be. I look forward to working with Miriam in her new role.”

Accepting this new assignment, Chilton said, “Our camps, Israel programs, and youth group activities are the envy of the Jewish community, thanks to the creative leadership of our remarkable staff and lay leadership. I look forward to partnering with Daryl Messinger, the lead lay partner for our youth engagement work, and Harry Levy who heads the North American Camping Committee. I am blessed to be able to work with visionary colleagues led by Paul Reichenbach and Rabbi Bradley Solmsen. Their leadership is at the heart of our youth work.”

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