For Ben Pozez, involvement in the Jewish community is practically coded into his DNA. His grandparents, the late Shaol and Evie Pozez, were philanthropic and community leaders from the moment they arrived in Tucson in 1979. His parents, Mitch and Robin, have continued the tradition. So it was only natural for Pozez to step into their shoes.
“My Jewish identity and our Tucson Jewish community are rooted in the core of my upbringing,” says Pozez, who was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, but raised in Tucson. His parents moved the family back to Tucson when Pozez was just a year old.
“As a third generation of Pozez to be involved here, I’ve experienced most of Jewish Tucson firsthand,” he says.
Asked what he learned about community involvement from his parents and grandparents, Pozez says, “It would take an entire book to answer this, but needless to say, almost everything. I certainly hold myself to a higher standard than most in trying to fulfill the incredible legacy left to me by my grandparents, and still shown to me by my parents.”
Pozez, who is now 29, has truly come into his own as a leader. He is Young Leadership Campaign chair and corporate sponsorship chair of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and serves on the Federation Council. He serves on the Tucson Jewish Community Center finance committee and the Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization board of directors. He has also served on the Federation’s board of directors, as well as the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona’s grants committee and board of trustees.
His professional and volunteer lives merge in the Federation’s Real Estate and Allied Professions group, where he is program chair and serves on the steering committee. Pozez works in real estate development and investment, and as a consultant to high net worth individuals and real estate companies. He studied regional development and business at the University of Arizona from 2003 to 2007 and completed a program in investment strategies and portfolio management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In both realms, he has seen Tucson grow and expand. But when asked about whether the community has changed, Pozez answers, “Yes and no. We have one of the strongest and most connected Jewish communities that I’ve ever experienced. While things will always change over time, I think that our changes continue to drive the community in a positive direction.”
What kind of challenges does the Jewish community need to tackle for sustainability? “We need to find ways to help the younger generations, like myself, be involved,” he says. And this is what he strives to do through the Young Leadership Campaign. Pozez was also active in the Federation’s Young Men’s Group when it was first in formation. He completed his two-year requirement for the YMG leadership development program in May, but is still instrumental in keeping the past participants involved and socializing with each other and with those currently in the program.
Pozez sees Tucson’s future in its ability to “move past some of its stubbornness and allow for some real growth and job creation.” When asked how to do this, he responds, “If I knew those answers I would be running for mayor.” Could this be foreshadowing? Considering his genetic propensity toward leadership, Tucson might want to keep an eye on Pozez.
Nancy Ben-Asher Ozeri is a freelance writer and editor in Tucson. She can be reached at nancy_ [email protected].