Growing up in Highland Park, Dan Wander has deep familial roots in the Chicagoland philanthropic and Jewish communities. Both of his parents were heavily involved in Chicago’s Jewish community, which sparked Dan to get involved when he graduated from law school. He is one of the founders of Metro Chicago Hillel and is a former JCFS Chicago board member and board chair. Dan is a big believer in the federated system and feels that the work of JCFS would not be possible without a strong backbone from the organized Jewish community. Dan and his wife, Ruth Freedman, still live in Highland Park with their two identical, 21-year-old twins who are both in college. Dan is a partner at Terraco, Inc., a real estate development firm where he has worked for the past 20 years.
Dan is very proud of his time on the JCFS board and was chair of the first combined fundraising event after the merger between JFCS and Jewish Children’s Bureau (JCB). During his tenure on the Board, Dan felt there was tremendous positive growth for the agency in terms of innovation, intentionality, and professionalism around the way services are provided. A few highlights include the construction of the Abe and Ida Cooper Center, which Dan played a big role given his real estate development background. He also co-hosted a seminar with Howard Sitron, former JCFS CEO, for leaders from social service agencies around the country about how to run their boards more effectively. On a personal level, Dan valued the opportunity to build relationships withs other ambitious and like-minded board members and staff. He felt he and his peers, each in their own way, made concessions in human capital and decided to spend that capital with JCFS, which strengthened the bond between them.
Helping people at all stages of life and seeing their growth provides a satisfaction that makes Dan proud of his connection with JCFS. Though he is no longer on the Board, Dan still continues to support JCFS from a financial perspective and truly believes in the mission. When asked how he would describe how he feels about JCFS, Dan said, “I think that JCFS Chicago represents the best of what the Jewish community has to offer in terms of its actual tzedakah and serves as an outlet for members of the community to participate in the agency’s life-changing work.”