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YPD History

Beginning in 2017, YPD decided to take some time off to rethink our mission and vision for the young adult Jewish community in St. Louis. Here’s a look into what went on behind the scenes and who was involved in the YPD Relaunch Initiative!


What is the Young Adult Relaunch Initiative?

In conjunction with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ new Strategic Plan, Community Impact facilitated a collaboration with the Community Engagement and Development departments to assess YPD’s role in young adult engagement. The Young Adult Engagement Task Force was formed and began working in December 2017, and concluded with a proposed strategy in May 2018.

The Young Adult Engagement Task Force
Top row: Zach Dalin, Samantha March, Evan Glantz, Laura Neiman, Becca Near
Bottom row: Jason Williams, Amy Bornstein
Not pictured: Andy Babitz, Alison Wittels, Shira Berkowitz


The Task Force engaged in the following design-thinking inspired process:
Gained empathy and inspiration
  • Reviewed data and identified community successes, challenges, and gaps. Data came from the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study and a 2016 St. Louis Jewish young adult survey.
  • Learned from task force member experiences.
  • Developed an asset map.
Ideate and prototype
  • Determined the role and value of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis in providing services to the Jewish young adult community in St. Louis.
  • Brainstormed “how might we” serve in the role and provide value to young adults and the Jewish community.
  • Prototyped and tested ideas; this included the implementation of three focus groups to share ideas and hear feedback from constituents.
Developed a plan to best support the proposed role and value
  • Assessed the feedback from the focus groups and developed a plan of action to relaunch the young adult program with a new look, focus, and mission. 
  • Created a new lay structure that seeks to train, inspire, and engage young Jewish leaders in the community. This Young Adult Initiative will be a prestigious opportunity for young adults to enhance their leadership skills and make real impact in the St. Louis Jewish community.

To build and sustain an inspired, thriving community of Jewishly engaged young adults who are empowered and committed to leadership, philanthropy, outreach, and inclusion.

Target Audience
This strategy will serve a broad section of the community, including young adults in their 20s and 30s who may be single, married, married with kids, etc. (and this strategy does not attempt to engage the entire family, but instead focuses on the individuals). They may be graduate students, currently working, not working, etc. YPD seeks to be all-inclusive and open to Jewish young adults at all stages of life, personal development, career, etc.

To fulfill this mission, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis will build a strategy with four distinct, and often overlapping, areas of work: Community Vibrancy, Outreach, Leadership Development, and Philanthropy.


Co-Chairs: Andy Babitz and Patty Bloom
Committee Members: Ben Cherry, Evan Glantz, Sarah Glickfield, Joel Portman, Matt Price, Debi Tozer, and Jamie Zinn

Emily Bornstein, Facilitator
Becca Near, Coordinator, Young Adult Engagement
Stacy Wagerman, Young Adult Development Liaison
Karen Sher, Vice President, Community Engagement

Meet the Young Adult Engagement Task Force

Once our new mission and focus areas were set, we selected a group of nine professionals for our Communications Task Force. The individuals live in the St. Louis community and have a strong background in marketing, public relations, communications, or design. This diverse team leading the relaunch initiative will help determine the future of YPD in terms of design, messaging, and overall brand.

Andy Babitz

Andy Babitz was born and raised in St. Louis. He attended Mizzou where he received a double major in Political Science and History, and then went on to graduate from University of Missouri – Kansas City Law School. Andy practiced law in St. Louis for nine years before switching careers. He recently partnered with his brother Danny as a financial advisor. Andy is Vice President of United Hebrew, a 2014 Millstone Fellow, and a 2015 Wexner Fellow. YPD has a special place in his heart – he met his wife at the OY Vegas event in 2011. 

Shira Berkowitz

Shira Berkowitz is a St. Louis native and lifelong active participant in the Jewish community. She received her Masters of Fine Arts from WashU and is an actively exhibiting artist and designer. She is presently the Communications Manager at PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy and education organization, and an Adjunct Professor in art history and design at St. Louis Community College. Shira is a founding board member of MaTovu, Q Jews, and Citizen Artist STL. 

Amy Bornstein

Amy Bornstein has been working in the Jewish community for almost five years and living in St. Louis for over eight years. She initially moved to St. Louis to do Public Relations for Build-A-Bear Workshop. Following a move to the non-profit sector, Amy spent four years at Federation. In May 2018, Amy became the Director of Literary & Jewish Arts at the J, primarily in charge of managing the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, now in its 40th year. Amy is a founding board member of Nerot, the Young Women’s Division of Nishmah, and spends time working with the Human Rights Campaign in St. Louis. 

Zach Dalin

Zach is a professional photographer and entrepreneur. Most recently, he’s been growing my photo/video business, Zach Dalin Photography, which specializes in weddings, mitzvahs, portraits, and commercial photography. He is excited to be on the task force because it is very important for young adults to have a place where they can be Jewish and be with other like-minded Jewish young adults. Federation has always provided some of the highest-attended young adult programs for Jewish professionals over the last few years, and with the new branding and initiatives, this will absolutely continue for many years to come.

Evan Glantz

Evan Glantz is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He works for the St. Louis Regional Freightway, a business enterprise of Bi-State Development focused on enhancing the region’s standing as a premier national and global freight hub. He is a graduate of the 2017-2018 Millstone Fellows Class and is taking part in the inaugural ACCESS Leadership cohort. Evan is excited to be a part of this task force because of the opportunity to develop a new vision for the organization that can impact a wide range of people within the Jewish community.

Samantha March

Sam is the Digital Communications Specialist for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. She has worked in the Jewish community for five years, beginning in 2014 with Federation as a Resource Assistant for the Development and Marketing departments. In 2015, she was promoted to the Marketing Coordinator position, and in 2018 was promoted to her current position. Sam graduated in 2012 from DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications & Performing Arts. Past work experience includes Enterprise, The Muny, and The Colbert Report. 

Becca Near

Becca is a Development Associate for YPD and a St. Louis native. Becca has been involved in the Jewish community since she was born by attending The J’s Early Childcare Center, Camp Sabra, Epstein Hebrew Academy, and participating in youth groups such as NCSY. Becca is excited to be leading this task force because the young adult community means so much to her. Becca wants to help shape the community that will affect generations to come! 

Laura Neiman

Laura was born and raised in St. Louis. She attended Michigan State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising Design. For the past seven years, she has worked as an Art Director specializing in corporate and internal communications. Laura has actively participated in YPD events since graduating college and is excited to bring her diverse and creative talents to the task force. Laura looks forward to helping develop a strong, focused, and unified organization to ensure equal and plentiful opportunities for the young professional Jewish community in her hometown.

Jason Williams

Jason is a graphic designer from Cincinnati, currently residing in St. Louis. He studied design at the Warren County Career Center and Eastern Michigan University. While in college, he spent time designing page layouts and illustrations for the campus newspaper and other school organizations. After graduation, he worked for great institutions such as the Ken Garff Automotive Group, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and currently works as a Graphic Design Specialist at Spire Energy.

Alison Wittels

Alison Wittels is a first year Master of Social Work student at Washington University in St. Louis. With a BA in History from Tulane University, Alison spent five years working in Public Relations and Communications. Alison is excited to be part of the task force to share her opinions and make a difference.