You should know… Avital Ingber

Photo by David Stuck
Photo by David Stuck

Avital Ingber is all about Jewish philanthropy. As chief development officer and managing director of the United Jewish Endowment Fund at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the 34-year-old Cincinnati native oversees philanthropic resource development for the organization.

The Washington resident moved to the area in 1999 to attend American University, where she earned a B.A. in business in 2003. In 2011, Ingber received an executive master’s degree in leadership from the Georgetown School of Business.

Prior to her current role, Ingber served as managing director of financial resource development at the Federation. Before that, she directed young leadership at the Federation, partnering with Birthright Israel NEXT DC to engage the nearly 15,000 alumni of the program in the Washington area. She has brought more than 600 people on trips to Israel over the last 10 years.

We recently caught up with Ingber to talk about getting young Jews to become more philanthropic, her love of traveling and why Israel is such a special place.

How do you deal with the challenge of getting young people to become philanthropic?

I don’t see it as a challenge, I see it as an opportunity. I believe that young people really want to give. They want to give their time, they want to give their talents and utilize them for the organization and they want to give their treasure of their resources. We call it ‘the three Ts’ — time, talent and treasure. If you find ways, which we’ve done extremely successfully, to allow young people to be around the table, to help make decisions, to be involved, they are really excited to also be philanthropic with their resources.

What can be done to keep Jewish young adults engaged after they return from trips to Israel?

What we’ve done is built relationships with individuals and allowed them to be able to take the opportunity to lead and to get involved in the community. We’ve made it a priority within Federation to involve young adults throughout the organization. They are not just involved in the Birthright alumni network, they are involved in anything they want to be involved in, whether it’s Federation or another organization. Here at Federation there is not one committee or board that exists without having multiple young people on it. It really showcases that this is a multi-generational community that gives young people an opportunity to be part of connecting across multiple generations.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington?

Probably the people. It’s a very diverse community. There are people that grew up in all different places, really from all over the world. [I’m] surrounded by intelligent, smart, educated people, [who] challenge [me] and have intellectual conversations.

Where did you get your love of traveling from?

From my dad. He’s always going to very obscure, unique places. He works at a university, so he takes students to go to a medical mission every year. He’s been to visit the refugee camps right outside of Darfur. He’s gone to meet with the pope — the last three popes — in Rome at the Vatican. He’s gone to Poland to see our family history. He’s always going to different, unique places and so we grew up a very worldly family. We always had people from all over the world around our dinner table coming to visit and so we always were exposed to different places within the United States and beyond, so that’s how I learned to love the world.

What is the most amazing place you have visited?

Israel is my favorite place to continuously go back to. It’s hard to say one place that is my absolute favorite but my most recent trip to Croatia and Bosnia was probably one of my most unique experiences.

Why is Israel such a special place for you?

It feels like home. I don’t go there anymore to just go and tour, I go to see the people because I really feel a connection to them, that it’s my family, it’s my home. I have amazing friends who live there and I try to take as many people as possible to Israel to share the love that I have for the people and the country with others and allow them to experience our homeland.

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