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Neil Spears, former JCC leader in LA, to head Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network

Founded during the pandemic, the organization provides support for the Jewish queer community

A charity dedicated to supporting LGBTQ Jews will soon have a new leader.

Neil Spears is set to take charge of the Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network on Jan. 9, the organization announced on Tuesday.

In a press release, the Donor Network described Spears as a “seasoned educator and community builder” who holds a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University.

Spears was previously the executive director of the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and sits on the board of JQ International, another nonprofit that offers support services for LGBTQ Jews. 

“Neil is the ideal candidate to maximize the already considerable impact of the Jewish LGBTQ Donor Network,” said Donor Network co-founder Stuart Kurlander in a press release, adding that he anticipates Spears will enable the organization “to drive grant-making opportunities, and to significantly grow partnerships with well-established philanthropists that will meaningfully impact the lives of LGBTQ Jews and enhance their roles in the broader Jewish community.”

Founded during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 by a trio of Jews with roots in Tel Aviv, Washington, D.C., Miami and New York, the Donor Network has operated primarily online until now.

Kurlander told the Forward the past two years have been spent primarily on getting organized and getting acquainted with possible donors. Spears’ hiring, he said, was the organization’s first big move and one that he hopes will herald greater activity in the coming months. The Donor Network will shortly begin taking solicitations for grants that will range from $5,000 to $50,000.

“We have already begun that process a bit and, frankly, I think soon, with our executive director on board, we’ll be awarding the funds to programs initiatives and organizations that meet certain requisite criteria for funding,” he said.

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