TITLE: Senior Program Officer
FUNDING AREAS: Jewish life, Jewish education, and Jewish culture in North America.
PROFILE: Nessa Rapoport serves as Senior Program Officer at the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Her foundation bio shares:
Plenty of program officers have written publications for their foundations, but few of them are full-fledged novelists. The Charles H. Revson Foundation's Nessa Rapoport has wriiten a wide variety of published and produced works, all of which live in the world of Jewish culture. This interest dovetails nicely with her role at Revson, where oversees grants that focus on North American Jewish Life.
A native of Toronto, Rapoport wrote the novel Preparing for Sabbath, a collection of poems called A Woman's Book of Grieving, the bestselling book Iacocca: An Autobiography, and a memoir about family and place called House on the River: A Summer Journey. She received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for that memoir and was also nominated for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Rapoport edited the Schocken Book of Contemporary Jewish Fiction, cowrote the Emmy-nominated film Saying Kaddish, and has published her essays in pretty much every major national newspaper.
So how exactly did this distinguished writer with a well-defined niche find her way to the world of philanthropy? After a decade of working as a senior editor and memoir specialist at Bantam Books, she stepped onto the nonprofit scene in 1991. Her specialty was, and always has been, developing programs and publications related to Jewish culture, leadership, and education. She was hired on at the Charles H. Revson Foundation in 2005. As she said in an interview with ELI Talks, "The more you are steeped in your own culture, the more profoundly you can understand the world."
The Charles H. Revson Foundation has an entire program focus area devoted to Jewish life. The other areas are urban affairs, biomedical research, and education. Rapoport role involves supporting programs that get young people engaged in meaningful civil service, especially related to affordable housing.
She speaks out publicly on Jewish culture and feminism. In a Philanthropy New York blog, she wrote, "A nation's most valuable resource is the brainpower of its citizens. Today, in the knowledge-based economies of the West and, increasingly, of the globe, no country can afford to neglect half its talent. Among tenured researchers in the hard sciences, women continue to be severely underrepresented."
On a personal level, Rapoport is married to Tobi Kahn, a painter and sculptor. She wrote the meditations that accompanied his museum exhibition of ceremonial art, known as Avoda: Objects of the Spirit. She's been a faculty member at the Leadership Institute (a Jewish teaching program) and a member of the Larchmont Temple.
To learn more about Revson's grantmaking for Jewish life or other program areas, check out the Grants Section of the foundation's website.