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Jewish Federation Annual Campaign Chair Todd Bettman and his family have been involved with Federation in Dayton for three generations. As Todd’s last year as Campaign Chair comes to a close, we asked him to reflect on why he and his family have dedicated so much to this organization and community, and what it has meant to him.

Todd Bettman started volunteering in his childhood, and jokes that he’s been volunteering since before he was born, since his parents were so involved in the community. “I used to go with my mother to the Federation offices in the “Red Feather” Building on lower Salem Avenue for her to see Peter Wells and Sylvia Siegle,” says Todd. “I still remember the smell of stale coffee, linoleum floors and plastic chairs! It was pure 1974!”

He “officially” started to volunteer at the time of his Bar Mitzvah, when he was recruited into working on the United Jewish Appeal. “The importance of volunteering was indeed instilled in me from a very early age,” shares Todd.

“At my Bar Mitzvah, one of the first acts I performed was making my first pledge to the United Jewish Campaign of $50, I believe, which was a lot in those days for a 13 year-old, but it was important to me to do. Of course, though my parents were proud of my gift, they weren’t content to leave it at that, so they encouraged (as in “made”) me call all of my other friends who were having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to solicit pledges from them. Guess you could call that the beginning of my work on UJC!”

Todd would eventually become co-chair of the 1982 UJA Youth Campaign, (a big thing in those days), and chair of the 1985 campaign. “I still have the plaque in my office,” says Todd. “My awards from the other years are in my basement; I’m still proud of them.”

It’s clear that Todd was influenced not just by his own parents’ commitment and passion for this community, but by other leaders in the community as well. “So many of the people throughout my life whom I have admired and been influenced by were ‘Federation people’, either professionals or lay leader friends of my parents,” Todd says.

So many of the people throughout my life whom I have admired and been influenced by were “Federation people”, either professionals or lay leader friends of my parents…

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

So many of the people throughout my life whom I have admired and been influenced by were “Federation people”, either professionals or lay leader friends of my parents…

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

So many of the people throughout my life whom I have admired and been influenced by were “Federation people”, either professionals or lay leader friends of my parents…

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

“From Carol Pavlofsky, who was like a second mother to me, to Peter Wells and Sylvia Siegle on the professional side, to so many others. But I probably have to credit Carol the most for giving me my first leadership position and fueling the passion. There is a large group of women in our community known as ‘Carol’s girls’, because of the influence she had on all of their involvement in the community – I like to consider myself one of ‘Carol’s Guys!’ ”

Todd has remained extremely committed to the Jewish community through his involvement with Federation. He has served on the Federation Board for 10 years. He has also served on the Finance Committee, Covenant House Facilities Committee, and even the Bingo Committee.

“YES, Bingo Committee,” declares Todd, “Which seems to give everyone else the giggles picturing Andy Schwartz and I spending time at the old Federation-operated Bingo Hall on Needmore Road.”

Todd has also co-chaired the Federation Gala with his wife Jean, served on the Executive Board for the past two years, and has been nominated as the President-elect for the next term. Todd was a member of the Jewish Foundation Board for many years, and served as co-chair for the United Jewish Appeal for four years. Finally, as Todd puts it, in a “culmination of a life-long passion” Todd served as chair of the Federation’s Annual Campaign for the past three years.

Todd’s strong commitment to volunteering is fueled by his passion for the Dayton community, as well as his passion for Israel. Through his role as a lay leader, he has been able to witness all of the things made possible by the work that Federation does.
Having grown up in Dayton, Todd recalls summers spent at the JCC pool on Denlinger Road with friends. He remembers being surrounded by so many people; it was difficult to find an empty chair!

During high school, Todd spent every Monday night at the JCC attending BBYO meetings, remarking that back then, Dayton had five chapters. He’s watched as the demographics of this community have changed. But in spite of, or maybe because of these changes, the most remarkable thing to Todd has been to watch the resurgence of community within Jewish Dayton.

He is so excited to see a renewed commitment to community building, and showing newcomers to Dayton, and longtime community members alike, just how welcoming and inclusive Jewish Dayton really is. “I love that even in a Jewish community the size of Dayton, we have continued a tradition of Jewish belonging and are really succeeding in restoring the vibrancy that once was… even if a little smaller by comparison.”

I love that even in a Jewish community the size of Dayton, we have continued a tradition of Jewish belonging and are really succeeding in restoring the vibrancy that once was… even if a little smaller by comparison.

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

I love that even in a Jewish community the size of Dayton, we have continued a tradition of Jewish belonging and are really succeeding in restoring the vibrancy that once was… even if a little smaller by comparison.

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

I love that even in a Jewish community the size of Dayton, we have continued a tradition of Jewish belonging and are really succeeding in restoring the vibrancy that once was… even if a little smaller by comparison.

~ Todd Bettman
2018 Annual Campaign Chair

Watching the “relaunch” of Federation’s signature event, now called the Presidents Dinner, has been particularly special to Todd. “Being involved with this process, and watching it sell out year after year, always with smiling, happy community members of every ‘stripe.’ Again, for a community our size to host such an exciting, vibrant, trademark event is just a physical representation of where our community is and will be going,” says Todd.

Todd is dedicated to helping this community continue to stay strong and vibrant into the future. After growing up watching his parents both receive Young Leadership awards, and then being a recipient of the Allan L. Wasserman Young Leadership award himself, he was especially proud to award his nephew Dan Sweeny the Young Leadership award five years later.

Being part of a family legacy of volunteerism and philanthropy is part of what keeps Todd committed to this community. He is excited to be passing the torch to his nephew Dan again as Todd steps down as Annual Campaign Chair. Dan Sweeny will represent the third generation in his family to take on the role.

Todd is already looking to the future and wondering if his great nephews and niece will carry on the tradition. Perhaps they will be some of our next Young Leadership award winners and Campaign chairs?

So what would Todd say to someone who is considering volunteering? “Everyone is busy in this day and age,” says Todd. “We have kids, work and personal pursuits, and we often feel we just don’t have the time or it’s not convenient to go here or there or be involved. But community is all about being a part of something, and especially in a community our size, everyone is needed and every voice is important. In some communities, you’re just another number, a little fish in a big pond; in our community, every number is important and everyone has an opportunity to do and be something important – we are ALL big fish!”

For more information on how your campaign donations help our community and Jewish communities across the world, please contact Juliet Glaser, Campaign Director, at (937) 401-1558 or jglaser@jfgd.net.

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