Meet Melissa Cordish

Developing Baltimore’s Leaders

If there is one thing that drives "uber" volunteer Melissa Cordish forward as she works towards developing a leadership pipeline in Baltimore, it is this simple statement:

"We have great needs in the Jewish community and we need the best and brightest minds to move the needle," she says.

From her first involvement with the Young Women's Leadership Council (now Dor Tikvah), where she showed up for the third meeting with infant in tow, to her current role as Chair of CCEL (Center for Community Engagement), Melissa has volunteered tirelessly, engaging community members and providing them with the tools to make an impact on the Jewish community.

Already, in her first year as chair of CCEL, Melissa has overseen changes that should broaden the Jewish community's leadership base. This year, CCEL opened up its programming to all its Baltimore community partners, including boards of synagogues, day schools and other Jewish organizations.

"The issues we are facing are universal," she says. "We want people sitting in any chair on a board to have the skills to address them."

Other goals for CCEL under her tenure include strengthening the relationship between The Darrell Friedman Institute for Professional Development (DFI) and Acharai. In addition, Melissa wants to make sure that every program The Associated runs has an engagement piece built in. And, she looks forward to reaching out to new populations to help them start their leadership journeys with The Associated.

Engagement has always been important to Melissa. "When I sit down I always have great conversation when I ask someone, 'What do you care about?' There are so many issues we can tackle in the Jewish community, from the environment or the elderly, teen Jewish identity or social issues. I find it personally satisfying to work on what you care about."

A native of Los Angeles, Melissa always felt she had a Jewish Neshama (soul). After graduating from Hebrew School, she continued on with Hebrew High school, despite the fact that none of her friends did. She also went on an LA Ulpan trip to Israel as a teen.

But it was coming to Baltimore, she believes, that ensured her strong involvement with the Jewish community. In addition to CCEL, she was as a founding member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation and chaired the Young Women’s Leadership Council, helping restructure the program into what is now Dor Tikvah. She is currently in Acharai.

"I have been to many GA's, traveled on the Women's leadership Mission to Israel with other women from midsized Federations and I have heard repeatedly that Baltimore has this incredible reputation, from its dedicated and talented professionals to its innovation in programming," she says.

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