Kathy Manning

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Jewish Educational Trailblazer

At a time when many Jewish organizations insist on going it alone, even though they struggle for money and members, what happened last year in the day school community defied the norm: Five well-established, distinct organizations representing diverse religious streams and approaches actually decided to meld into one. Key to this development was Kathy E. Manning, a veteran communal leader who became the founding chair of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.

Manning, 60, was the first woman to chair the board of the Jewish Federations of North America. She initially turned down a request to join Prizmah; after serving, twice, as the chair of her children’s day school in Greensboro, North Carolina, Manning thought she had had enough.

But then, she wrote, “I realized that what was envisioned was something much bigger than I had imagined: an organization that can strengthen and enhance day schools across the country and across the spectrum.”

Prizmah hosted more than 1,000 people at a three-day conference in February and is expanding the programs and resources offered to its members.

Manning is an immigration lawyer and is active in the Greensboro arts community. As a college student, she was one of the founders of Harvard College’s first women’s a cappella group, an experience that resonates with her communal work today. As she once said: “Many of us love to sing solos, but there is something powerful about being part of a large group working together for a common purpose.”

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