Local Hadassah announces cutbacks, changes

St. Louis Chapter Hadassah is establishing a new model of business operations for the 1,800- member organization. As part of a national effort to reduce costs and streamline operations, the chapter’s status as a “Grant Recipient Area,” meaning that the chapter had staff and an office space paid for by the national organization, has ended.

The chapter was one of eight in the country currently operating with this level of national support.

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All eight chapters will now operate with locally supported business models.

The chapter leadership is moving forward rapidly to create a seamless transition for its membership and to ensure that its signature programs: “Walking on Sunshine” to be held on May 17, which funds neuro-oncology research at Hadassah Hospital, and the “Dream Kitchen Tour,” scheduled for Sept. 13, continue to be executed at the high levels they have been in the past.

All the chapter’s ongoing programs: Torah Yoga, Potluck Book Club, Hadassah Cooks, will continue without interruption. The chapter is also planning a new event, a Mah Jong Tournament and Games Day, to be held May 3.

The chapter’s administrative assistant, Casey Herter, and project manager, Michele Peters, have been part of the national downsizing and layoffs of 80 professionals nationwide.

Chapter Director, Joan Denison, remarked, “In no way did these staff layoffs reflect the performance of these dedicated employees. Casey and Michele were valued members of our local Hadassah team and will be greatly missed.”

Denison, who has served as the chapter’s Director for more than four years, will be working with the chapter through the transition and will continue to work with the chapter in a more limited capacity. Denison has been retained by the national organization to participate with a team of professionals that will serve chapters across the country.

“This is the right thing for Hadassah at this time,” said Diane Maier, St. Louis Chapter President. “Hadassah is responding to the economic downturn and they are making good decisions about how they are using their funds. Our grant recipient area status was never intended to be permanent. There was always an expectation that we would become self-funding. Hadassah has had these plans in the works for some time and just moved forward with a faster roll-out due to the global economic environment.”

The chapter is planning to maintain a local office and is currently seeking to hire a part-time administrative assistant to support the chapter’s activities. Hadassah has always operated with a volunteer-run, staff supported model. “Our volunteers are smart, capable and motivated women,” said Maier.

“We are fortunate to continue with Joan Denison’s support and together we will continue our mission of tikkun olam by strengthening and supporting Israel through medical care, research, education and improving the environment and by connecting, educating and empowering women in our own community to do great things.”