At the J, we’re lucky to be surrounded by lively, unique individuals who each leave their own distinct mark on our community. Our employees are no different—they work tirelessly behind the scenes to put on the events and programs that many of you have grown to know and love, they keep our members safe, and they make the J a colorful, wonderful place to be. We figured it’s time we shine a light on a few special people who are continuously improving our center.
Rachel Baum, Early Childhood Engagement Program Manager
1. Where are you from? I always have trouble with this question, as we moved around a lot when I was younger. But I mainly grew up in Pueblo, CO. (yes, there are a few Jews in Pueblo!)
2. When did you start working at the J? January 2015
3. Describe your job. I LOVE my job! I run Parent/Tot Classes, Preschool Enrichments, Jewish Baby University, Warm Welcome Playdates, and holiday and parenting programs throughout the year. I decide what to offer, market the classes, handle registration questions, hire and oversee the instructors, and ensure the classes run smoothly and families are happy! My goal is to create community in each of our classes and programs—whether a parent is looking to connect with other families or have quality one-on-one time with their child, I strive to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for everyone involved.
4. What’s your favorite part of working at the J? I love watching relationships develop and little ones grow up at the J—it’s why I love what I do. I specifically love seeing a group of expecting parents in Jewish Baby University go through the experience of having their first child, together. It warms my heart when they all sign up for a Boogie Babies music class or I see them at a Shabbat dinner all together. It takes a village to raise a baby, and I love helping families create their community!
5. What are you looking forward to the most in the next year? “Family Programs” has merged with the Preschool to form the Early Childhood Engagement Department. With the added support from the preschool, I look forward to providing more consistency in our programming and a new level of customer service and innovation!
6. What is one thing people may not know about you? I lived in Taiwan for a few years when I was younger, and have traveled to over 25 countries!
Miriam Brizendine, Project Manager, Office of the CEO
1. Where are you from? I was born in Atlanta, GA but I’ve lived in Denver since I was 6, so basically Denver.
2. When did you start working at the J? May 2005, over 12 years ago!
3. Describe your job. I am the Project Manager, Office of the CEO. I am in charge of all of our databases, our IT, and all sorts of random projects! My day-to-day is always different which is part of why it is so fun. I can be doing anything from pulling a mailing list to crawling under desks plugging in computers. One of my recent projects was the implementation of our new program registration software, ASAP Connected. This software is used for several departments including Early Childhood Engagement, Intergenerational and Older Adult Programs, and the MACC.
4. What’s your favorite part of working at the J? I love being able to work with and support the Jewish community. I truly believe in being part of the “ish”, which I can achieve by working at the J.
5. What are you looking forward to the most in the next year? I’m planning on riding my bike 411.4 miles across Iowa next month so that will be pretty sweet, if I make it.
6. What is one thing people may not know about you? My favorite animal is the pig.
Jeffrey Hoffman, Creative Director
1. Where are you from? Second Star on the right and straight on til morning.
2. When did you start working at the J? Over 10 years ago… When the earth was still flat and the empire struck back.
3. Describe your job. I design the graphics for all of the J’s promotional material, including flyers, billboards, t-shirts, etc. I make people’s ideas come to life.
4. What’s your favorite part of working at the J? Making new and unique designs and the people I work with.
5. What are you looking forward to the most in the next year? Any vacation with the family.
6. What is one thing people may not know about you? I have two kids, one of each kind. And a beautiful wife.
Amy Weiner, Director of Festivals, MACC
1. Where are you from? Coral Springs, Florida, a South Florida suburb at the edge of the Everglades between Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale. But I moved to Denver after six years of living in the Big Apple, so that has definitely contributed to my worldview and identity as well.
2. When did you start working at the J? I started working at the J in July 2016 as the MACC’s Festivals Coordinator. I was promoted to the newly-created Director of Festivals position in February 2017 just before our Denver Jewish Film Festival began.
3. Describe your job. As the Festivals Director and the only full-time festivals staff member for the MACC, I am directly involved in all planning, preparation, logistics, and operations of both the JAAMM Festival and the Denver Jewish Film Festival. Each festival has over two dozen events apiece, so it’s a lot of work! A huge part of my day-to-day involves direct external communications with the likes of: filmmakers, international film distributors, literary agents, book publishers, Jewish film festival presenters, lay leaders, volunteer pre-screeners and readers, film selection committee members, cold-call solicitors, and community members. My responsibilities include submissions tracking (for the film festival, I am tracking over 300 feature-length and short films and counting; for JAAMM, well over 200 books from the Jewish Book Council), assigning our dozens of pre-screeners films to watch and review (we have over 350 pre-screener reviews and counting), managing our film selection committee’s viewing calendar, copywriting and copyediting for festivals-related print and promotional materials, planning events and receptions related to JAAMM and/or DJFF (e.g. Opening Night and all of the film festival’s talkbacks), planning and organizing visiting authors/artists/performers’ trips to Denver for our festivals, actually watching/reviewing the bulk of our film submissions (the best part!) and other festivals-related tasks (who do you think counted the 3,600+ DJFF audience award ballots cast to calculate the winners?).
4. What’s your favorite part of working at the J? Something I’m really excited to implement is our Centerpiece Lecture Series at our 2017 JAAMM (featuring three nationally-recognized leaders in their fields) and a Short Film Series at our 2018 DJFF as curated by myself and my team of young-adult pre-screeners. But I really take pride in having the opportunity to work directly with our community in regards to festival programming. By engaging pre-screeners and readers to provide feedback and help us narrow down submissions, we ensure that we are programming content for the community, by the community, and learning what our communities’ tastes and preferences are is truly a humbling and rewarding experience!
5. What are you looking forward to the most in the next year? As much as I adore Denver and am stoked to share the excitement of our MACC Festivals with you all, I am most looking forward to marrying my fiancé Jonathan, high school sweetheart and beau of almost 9 years, next fall in our hometown.
6. What is one thing people may not know about you? I have an identical twin! Pics upon request.
Todd Watson, Security
1. Where are you from? Annadale, Virginia.
2. When did you start working at the J? This past February 2017.
3. Describe your job. I work daily with counter surveillance, security, and member service.
4. What’s your favorite part of working at the J? Working in counter surveillance and keeping members of the J safe.
5. What are you looking forward to the most in the next year? JCC Organizational Safety training.
6. What is one thing people may not know about you? I’ve provided airlift, security, and humanitarian support in war-torn disaster areas.