Teach NJ, a project of the Orthodox Union founded in 2015 to advocate for fair government funding for New Jersey’s non-public schools, has hired Katie Schlussel Katz as its new executive director. As executive director, Katz will oversee Teach NJ’s annual campaign, community engagement and mobilization efforts across the state.
Before joining Teach NJ, Katz served as a major gifts officer for the Englewood Health Foundation where she managed a portfolio of major donors and cultivated philanthropic partnerships between donors, physicians and Englewood Health. Prior to her time at Englewood Health, Katz worked at The New Jewish Home in Manhattan as associate director of capital campaigns and led their $150 million capital campaign. Katz holds an MBA from Brandeis University in nonprofit management as well as a master’s degree in Jewish professional leadership.
“Katie joins us with tremendous experience in development and with an unparalleled passion for the work we do to secure our fair share of funding to nonpublic schools,” said Daniel Mitzner, Teach Coalition’s director of state political affairs and Katz’s direct supervisor. “She brings a specific skill set and an understanding of the Jewish day school community in New Jersey that will set our team up for success for many years to come.”
Katz keenly recognizes the challenging circumstances surrounding Jewish day schools in the area and deeply believes in accessing opportunities to secure parity in government funding for all non-public school students. “Teach NJ is so relevant to most people’s lives within the community,” she said. “Affordability for our yeshiva day schools is on everyone’s mind.”
Katz brings to the team exceptional fundraising talent and leadership skills that she hopes will increase the organization’s profile and spread awareness to the community about the critical work they do. “Teach NJ has made tremendous progress over the last few years and its work is essential to the sustainability of our schools. I am deeply excited to build on that progress with my colleagues,” she stated. “The potential for future wins for our communities is tremendous.”
In just five years, Teach NJ has built meaningful relationships with local schools and houses of worship by advocating for policies that will make sure our children in the State of New Jersey receive equitable funding. “What Teach NJ has done in this short time span is truly groundbreaking,” said Katz.
Recent accomplishments include an unprecedented increase in nonpublic school security funding by doubling the allocation to $22.6 million and an increased total funding for nonpublic school security, nursing, technology and textbook aid to a record $50 million for the 2018-19 school year. These achievements, Katz believes, indicate a real potential to implement considerable change in the overall funding structure.
Until now, government funding for non-public school students was specifically slated for ancillary items. This year, Teach NJ proudly secured 5 million dollars in STEM funding, a victory that will allow public school teachers to come into the day schools and teach STEM subjects at no cost to families. Katz sees this as a big win for the schools and believes that the possibility exists to increase the grant considerably over the coming years. Teach NY received a similar grant and moved the number from 5 million to 30 million in just three years.
Katz can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to get out and vote in order to facilitate change. Teach NJ has been visiting area high schools to educate and encourage students to sign up to vote in the upcoming May election where the outcome can have a real impact for days schools and houses of worship.
Through community support, Katz hopes to expand the organization, providing greater opportunity to institute change. “It’s simple,” she said, “the more philanthropic dollars received the greater the campaign.” She added that the return is definitely worth the investment, and if we don’t advocate for ourselves no one else will.
A third-generation New Jersey resident and Jewish day school alumna, Katz feels very connected to the issues Teach NJ advocates for and is particularly excited to work within the community. She lives in Teaneck with her husband Ezra and their two children.
By Andrea Nissel