DAVID SAGINAW of North Caldwell assumed the presidency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ July 1. He replaces Scott Krieger, who served the three-year term.
“This is something I always wanted to do, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity,” Saginaw said.
He comes to his new leadership position with a unique perspective. For nearly 20 years, he’s worked on the professional side of Jewish communal life, as a managing director of financial resource development at Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), as senior major gifts officer at The Birthright Israel Foundation, and as the North American executive director of TIKVA Children’s Home.
Originally from Detroit, Saginaw met his wife Paula when they were students at the University of Michigan. He returned to New Jersey with her and began his career as a sixth-grade teacher at South Mountain Elementary School in South Orange before entering the business world a few years later.
“I got involved in our MetroWest federation in the early ’90s,” he said. “My entry point was through Cedar Hill Country Club where Paula and I were members.” The Saginaw family are members of Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell.
He began raising money for the UJA Annual Campaign at the country club and gradually worked his way up through the federation leadership engagement process, eventually being asked to serve as campaign chair in 2001.
At the same time, Saginaw’s career took an interesting turn. “I really enjoyed being campaign chair and thought I might like to explore the possibility of doing this kind of work professionally, on a national level,” he said. “I interviewed for a position at United Jewish Communities [now Jewish Federations of North America] and was hired as part of their financial resource development team.” So he took early leave of his campaign chair position to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest between his professional and volunteer work.
However, he remained involved in fund-raising and was a federation board member for a dozen more years.
“I eventually rolled myself off the board because I wanted to make room for younger people,” he said.
So now, nearly 20 years after assuming his role as campaign chair, Saginaw is stepping into the president’s position. “I believe that the perspective I have from being a Jewish communal professional will be invaluable in my role as president,” he said. “I’ve always primarily focused on fund-raising and now I’ll be able to take a much broader view of the organization and its place in the community.”
He recognizes the challenging time during which he assumes his leadership position. “Covid-19 may completely turn on its head the way our community provides services,” he said. “As we plan our centennial celebration, we’re in a position to reimagine how we help our agencies, synagogues, and day schools deliver their services to our constituents. I’m looking forward to stewarding this process for our Greater MetroWest community.”