President and CEO of Jewish Federation of San Diego County
Long-time community leader served in interim role, looks to deepen Federation’s impact and strengthen partnerships
The Jewish Federation of San Diego County (Federation) has named Heidi Gantwerk as its permanent President and CEO. Gantwerk has served as Federation’s interim President and CEO for six months. A longtime Jewish community leader and professional consultant serving the San Diego Jewish Community, Gantwerk brings a wealth of experience, strategic vision, and deep communal relationships to the leadership position.
“We are a diverse and vibrant community with so many ways for people to engage in meaningful Jewish life and build long-lasting connections,” says Heidi Gantwerk, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. “Federation is the community’s connective tissue that brings together different organizations and individuals – whether it is to support those in need, to train Jewish professionals and develop lay leaders, to engage our incredible volunteers and strengthen our connection to the global Jewish community, and so much more. I am honored that the Board selected me to build on the success of so many Federation leaders, and to realize the vision begun by my immediate predecessor and friend Michael Jeser, z”l, who we miss dearly.”
Gantwerk was born in Israel and has lived in San Diego for 28 years. She has served on the boards of San Diego Jewish Academy, Hillel of San Diego, the Center for Jewish Culture and Congregation Beth Israel. She is part of the musical team of service leaders at Congregation Beth Israel. Professionally, she consults with organizations on strategic planning, visioning, evaluation, organizational structure and public engagement and has worked with many Jewish organizations here in San Diego including the JCC, Jewish Community Foundation, the Butterfly Project, Ner Tamid Synagogue, Federation, Hillel, Jewish Community Farming Initiative, Leichtag Foundation, and Congregation Beth Israel. She and her husband Andy Mayer have three grown children.
Since the passing of past President and CEO Michael Jeser, Gantwerk has led Federation in pursuit of its mission to broaden and deepen engagement in Jewish life to strengthen Jewish identity, foster dynamic connections with Israel, and care for all Jews in need. By mobilizing the community’s resources, leaders, and organizations to address the community’s most critical needs, Federation creates profound impact around three priority areas: Responding to Jewish Poverty in San Diego, particularly addressing the needs of seniors and Holocaust survivors; Ensuring an Enduring Jewish Community, particularly focusing on community security and developing lay and professional leaders; and Fostering Global People-to-People Relationships, with a focus on connections among Israelis and the San Diego Jewish community. Additional areas of focus include Jewish teen engagement and the increased need to respond to rising antisemitism.
“Beyond Heidi’s experience, expertise, and knowledge of our community, she has genuine passion for Jewish life in San Diego,” Jack Maizel, Board chair shared with GB Magazine. “Under her leadership, Federation will forge new, powerful partnerships and bring together more people in inspiring Jewish life. We have worked closely with her over the last 18 months. We have already seen her execute on the vision we all have and that she helped us to shape. Especially at this unprecedented time, people need and deserve support and community. Heidi can position Federation to deliver for the entire San Diego Jewish Community.”