• Print

David Greaves has had two epiphanies in the past ten years. The first came in 2004 while representing the Israeli bob-sled team at a competition in Germany. (Greaves and three other North American friends founded the Israeli bobsled team in 2002 – and became honorary Israeli citizens.)

“I was standing on a hill, with a Star of David on my back, representing Israel in Germany,” he recalls of that life-changing moment. “I felt a sense of pride in being Jewish. And I realized that I felt a passion for my Jewish community in Winnipeg and for Israel and I wanted to serve the Jewish community in some way.”
Greaves had been working for Manitoba Telecom – and doing very well – providing customized telecommunication applications for corporate clients. Immediately on his return from Germany, he approached the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, met with then-CEO Bob Freedman and was soon working for the Federation.

Over the next six years, he became the CJA campaign associate director responsible for financial resource development and the women’s campaign. Four years ago, he moved to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba where he was in charge of marketing and development.
Greaves experienced his second epiphany last summer at the height of the last Gaza war. He and his wife, Tracy Kasner Greaves, were in Israel last June with the Chai Folk Ensemble (Tracy is the ensemble’s managing artistic director) when the war broke out.
After the touring group came home to Winnipeg, David requested and was granted two weeks off from work to return to Israel as a volunteer.
“I was working with young kids in the south,” he says of his two-week stint in Israel. “I was running a bomb shelter. It was a very powerful experience. I realized that – even though I loved working for the Federation and had learned a lot there - I wanted a work situation which allowed me more flexibility and more freedom.”

Thus, in September, Greaves tendered his resignation and started Protexia Creative Philanthropy Solutions. “There is a growing number of smaller charities and non-profit groups that can use help with fundraising,” Greaves notes. “These organizations can also use help with communications and design work. I can bring all that I have learned through working for the Jewish community to the table. Both the Federation and The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba have long been models for other communities and charitable foundations throughout North America.”
Greaves notes that he initially sent out a large number of emails announcing his new consulting venture. “I was overwhelmed by the response,” he says. “People were excited for me. I have yet to have to make a cold call. I am still responding to organizations that contacted me for help.”
He reports that he is still doing a lot of work for the Jewish Foundation. He is also working with the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada on the JHS’s 10th annual Sol and Florence Kanee Distinguished Lecture Series which, this year (in April) is featuring Israeli author Ari Shavit, author of the controversial “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel”.
“I have a few more really great prospective opportunities,” Greaves says. “I am looking forward to a great year in 2015.”

* * *
As with David Greaves, Stephanie Levene has built up a substantial body of work in charitable fundraising. Currently, the University of Manitoba Asper School of Commerce graduate (she earned her MBA) – in her role as Associate Vice-President (Donor Relations) at the University, is overseeing a major fundraising campaign at her alma mater.
The campaign goal is $500 million over seven years, she reports. “This will be the largest campaign of this kind ever carried out in Manitoba,” she says.

The sister of Adam Levene, who is slated to become the next president of the Jewish Federation of Manitoba, Stephanie (who herself is a member of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Women’s Endowment Fund) began her working career in the business world as a marketing executive.
“While the jobs I had were interesting,” she says, “I wasn’t feeling satisfied with what I was doing. I wanted to do something more fulfilling.”

What Levene did in order to try to find what she was looking for was to sit down individually with a couple of dozen friends and interview them about the type of work they did.
“It was a real education,” she says.
Her journey of self-discovery led her in 2003 to the United Way. She approached the United Way’s communications people where, based on her previous experience, she was directed to the director of marketing.
“I was asked what I was looking for in a workplace and what my career goals were,” she recalls of that interview. “I was encouraged to sign up for a 14-week Sponsored Executive position. It was an incredible experience. It opened up a whole new world to me. I met a wide variety of people and learned a lot about myself and our community.”
Just as the term finished, a full time position opened up at the United Way. Her first position at the United Way was Division Manager, Resource Development.
After a couple of years, she was promoted to Senior Manager and then Director of Campaign and Strategic Initiatives. She served in that position for five years.
She moved to the University of Manitoba in 2011. “It was an interesting opportunity,” she says of her move to the university. “My position here encompassed all aspects of fundraising. We are approaching alumni all over the world to support this campaign.”
The $500 million campaign, she explains, has five focuses including more funding for supporting Aboriginal students and graduate students, for research, for capital development and for enhancing the university experience for all students.

Levene reports that the campaign is officially being kicked off next fall. “The response early on has been very positive,” she says. “We have had productive conversations with many alumni and people have been generous.”
She notes that there has been a lot of travel involved with her present role – meeting with alumni one-on-one or in groups in cities where a large number of alumni are located. “Deans and faculty members often travel with us,” she says.
She says that what she likes about working in the non-profit field is that she gets to see the best in people. “I enjoy helping people do what they want to do,” she says.