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10 Jewish News10 Ask Gail Baer whether as a woman she had to overcome any traditional barriers to become a successful leader and shell demur. My mom created a sense of normal in our home that may not have been traditional at the time she says. Soviet Jewry was a big issue at that time and she really vaulted very deep into that issue. When she was growing up in Bethesda Maryland Baer recalls her mother took her to Sunday demonstrations outside the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. pressing for freedom of movement for Soviet Jews and an end to restrictions placed on their communal and religious life in the USSR. So when youre 6 and 7 years old and you see your mother doing that and you grow up with that that was my sense of what I was supposed to do. It should be no surprise then that she consistently has taken leadership roles and today works as vice president of major gifts for Valley of the Sun United Way and is president of Congregation Beth Israel. I didnt realize until I became president of Beth Israel how pivotal and inuential a role like that is to young girls and women she says. Ive had several mothers 1010 by salvatore caputo photo by ken brown photography thank me for being out in front where their young daughters can see that being a leader in a community is very possible and very good and normal for a young woman. Raised as a member of a Reform shul in Washington she says she was a member of its youth group and celebrated her bat mitzvah and conrmation there. She went to Cornell University earning a bachelors degree in industrial engineering. That background led her to a consulting career mostly in the IT information technology area. Upon moving to the Valley 10 years ago with her husband Michael and their children David Rachel and Amy she says I had the opportunity to help launch the consulting practice at Grant Thornton. She also headed up community relations for the audit tax and advisory rm which was new to the Valley. In the course of her community-relations work she developed a relationship with United Way. In April 2011 she joined Valley of the Sun United Way as a development ocer for new partnerships moving up to director of major gifts in January 2013 and to her current position in March 2014. I think that what United Way does and their mission is very closely tied to not only who I am but also to who the Jewish people are in terms of making sure that we all take care of each other and that everyone should have a roof over their head good food to eat and access to a good education she says. Those are all good community values. Theyre also good Jewish values. So for me I get to not only work that but also to live that every day. So it was a very natural transition. She has also served on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation and is active currently in the American Israel Public Aairs Committee. I get asked a lot How do you do it all How do you t it all in I think that when you have things that you love to do it doesnt really feel like work and thats especially the beauty of being involved in a Jewish community that you love so much. Gail baer gail.indd 10 12116 105 PM