Hausner Board, Up Close and Personal: An Interview With Valerie Porush Hoffman, Hausner's Development Chair

Emily Waldorf, Hausner Board Secretary

What inspires you to serve on the Hausner board?

As our partner in nourishing and shaping our children’s souls and minds, Hausner is the most important institution to my family. It is a gift and an honor to serve on the Hausner Board and to be given an opportunity to help further Hausner’s record of excellence in academics, community-building, captivating Jewish learning, and pursuing Jewish values.

Tell us a bit about your professional background in development. What do you enjoy about fundraising at Hausner?

I realized early in life that I am driven by passion. So my entree into development was through my love for Israel; commitment to Jewish community; and the gratification I get from giving back. After working for the Federation system in NYC, and volunteering with AJWS by working with NGOs in Zimbabwe, India and Israel in my early 20s, I realized it’s the funds raised that fuel the efforts and services delivered by these wonderful organizations. I knew that in order to make the biggest impact, I’d need to learn the art of fundraising and therefore move into my discomfort zone - talking about money. I soon realized that - and grew to love development for this reason - fundraising is less about the talk of money and so much more about the discussion of the organization, its impact and the vital role it plays in the world. 
What I love about fundraising for Hausner is that it’s such an easy sell. I love telling the Hausner story and explaining why it’s so important to invest in Hausner. And the cherry on top is that I’m forging beautiful relationships and friendships with people who share the same commitment and love.

I was groomed, trained and then led fundraising  over the span of 10 years at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ultimately as its Regional Deputy Director. As West Coast Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute, I led development and strategic community outreach efforts. Now I work for myself as a consultant providing Jewish nonprofits expertise in strategic planning, resource development, programming and events, and organizational capacity building. Among other projects, I oversee a $23 million capital campaign for Chabad NP | Chai Preschool and have partnered with the Oshman Family JCC to produce the content and logistics for the Zionism 3.0 (Z3) Conference. 

I feel lucky because now I get to apply these skills to Hausner.

Why do you send your kids to Hausner? What makes a Hausner education special in your mind?

Originally, we were just looking for a school that successfully and convincingly delivered a top-notch academic education and a robust program of Jewish and Hebrew learning. We discovered a goldmine because Hausner has exceeded our expectations on these scores. But now if you asked me, the real reason we send our three (and soon our fourth!) daughters to Hausner is for the warm and mighty embraces - literal and figurative - they receive every day from their teachers and friends. When the girls come home and I ask, “How was school today?” more often than not, the response is an exuberant and unanimous “Today was the best day ever!”

What does the Hausner community mean to you? Has the pandemic changed your view on the importance of Jewish values in any way?

Again, I think of Hausner as a great big bear hug for our girls. And what I’ve come to discover is that it’s also one for our entire family, including Zack and me and even the girls’ grandparents and their Bubby (great-grandma). We have been welcomed so wholeheartedly and warmly by Hausner families, faculty and staff. In the short year-and-a-half that we’ve been at the school, we already built a community of friends and a network of support. 

The pandemic has only magnified this for us. Our relationships somehow grew stronger. For example, I had the entire kindergarten and first grade teaching team Zooming into my home multiple times a day. It was a lifeline for my girls. They even flourished academically with the one-on-one Zoom attention and the wonderful online programs that Hausner orchestrated. I built these special and strong relationships with the teachers that would not have been possible had they not been in my kitchen with me as I multi-tasked cooking and troubleshooting Zoom school. Another example is in our Development Committee work and our partnership with the Hausner staff in this effort. I believe those of us on the development team may have stronger relationships than they would have been because we are required to be so much more intentional with how we execute a fundraising campaign during a pandemic. During such a difficult year, we must adjust the way we strategize and think about how we approach our community for support. 

I think the pandemic has only strengthened my convictions and dedication to building community first; the importance of following the guiding lights Judaism provides like the beautiful theme for this year - Justice Justice Pursue; and my gratitude for all that Hausner provides my family, our community, and the Jewish people.

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