Look for some new directions in arts and culture programming at the Tucson Jewish Community Center with the addition of a dynamic duo of new managers, Katie Spector and Jeremy Thompson. Together they will focus on enriching community development, using innovative and creative ways to bring more people and diversity of age, background and perspectives into the J.
Spector’s first introduction to the J was as a gym member last year, where she dropped 100 pounds. Thompson first came to the J as a summer camp coordinator more than 25 years ago, and later as an artist in residence while finishing his teaching certificate. “But the J has grown over the last quarter of a century, especially in the last year,” says Thompson. “All the recent renovations involve the community concept, so it feels like a aplace to bring people together. People here believe in the idea of community and building programs with heart.”
Born and raised in Ohio, Spector has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Bowling Green State University. She spent a year as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow then joined Hillel at the University of Arizona as an Israel Campus Initiative engagement coordinator. She looks to expand the Tucson Jewish International Film Festival taking it into its 28th year. Already she is facilitating the 15-member festival committee as it hones its final picks for the January event.
“We look to grow the festival quality through the diversity of films, keeping those fans for the last 27 years happy, while bringing new blood into the tradition,” she says. That includes creating event opportunities to wrap around films for a diverse mix of youth and adults. As she also will facilitate BBYO activities, she looks forward to adding other film events such as Teen Screen and Hillel Screen to target younger audiences.
A graduate of Prescott College, Thompson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood gifted education, art and instructional design. He brings 20 years of experience from work with Tucson Unified School District. “We look to help all Tucson residents understand that the J is more than just a gym or early education program. It has a legacy of doing honorable and important work that needs extra exposure. The core vision is preserved, but the non-Jewish community needs to be aware of all that is going on here. That goal is to create access points so they can discover what else there is here,” he says.
His vision includes growing the culinary arts program, expanding already strong language classes, extending musical offerings and, with a gallery improvement, providing additional opportunities for local artists to display work. Thompson is a practicing artist and musician. He also wants to facilitate new adult programming with instructors who have strong content backgrounds.