Curious about the role of a Community Connector in Jewish life and education? We sat down with Brenda Footer, a professional in the field, to learn more about her vision, the program and its potential for growth.
Brenda is an experienced educator and former PJ Library director with a passion for early childhood education. She has worked in the field for many years and has recently joined the team at the Macks Center for Jewish Connections (MCJC).
You’re no stranger to the Baltimore Jewish community, correct?
My undergraduate degree is in early childhood, and my graduate degree is in religious education. The majority of my career, I’ve worked as an early childhood educator but in 2015 I did family engagement work at the Center for Jewish Education (CJE). I left four years later to go back to work in the early childhood world where I was at the JCC in Rockville as their assistant director. When the new MCJC agency was forming they were looking to expand the role of the Coordinator of the Connector Program. I’m so glad to be back with people that I’ve known and worked with for many years. I definitely feel like this is my happy place.
Tell us a little bit about the program.
The Community Connector Program is a group of paid volunteers who engage in peer-to-peer outreach and engagement with families in the Jewish community. Comprising mostly of moms of young children, these connectors create programs and facilitate one-on-one engagement to connect families with Jewish life, whether it’s finding a Jewish preschool, the right synagogue, or fostering community outside of Jewish institutions.
And your role?
My role right now is supporting those connectors in doing their work by providing them with professional development training, resources on Jewish education and values and any other support they need to effectively connect families with Jewish life. With a goal to expand the program further over the next five years, we are currently working on developing a plan to make this a reality.