Changing Our Act in “Acts of Change”

By Pamela Klier-Weidner
Director of Development and Organizational Advancement, JCUA

Pamela Klier-WeidnerWhy mess with the fundraising dinner? JCUA, like so many organizations, has been doing them successfully for years.

Big fundraising galas have a warm place in my heart, in my history. I’ve experienced great joy (and several additional gray hairs) in producing large scale fundraising dinners. I have, however, fantasized about taking the “gala” out of JCUA’s fundraising galas.

Acts of Change

“Acts of Change” will honor Kalman Resnick and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, with guest speaker Tamar Manasseh and performances from “Soul Sisters–A Multicultural Musical.” Learn more and buy tickets.

This tried-and-true formula never quite hit the mark for me at JCUA. We’ve had heroic honorees. We’ve worked with devoted dinner chairs. We’ve had our events at wonderful downtown hotels where the staff dedicated themselves to making our lives easier and our event virtually seamless.

So, why mess with the fundraising dinner?

I’m not speaking on behalf of everyone at JCUA, but for nearly four years, I’ve heard so many people ask us not to do “those big dinners.” I’ve also struggled with the expense of a large dinner and the ticket prices we had to set in order to reach our fundraising goals.

At each fundraising dinner, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Are we including ALL of our communities at this gala?” I wonder if the event is true to who we really are as an organization. Is it communicating the importance of our relationships and the bridges we create across racial, ethnic and religious lines? Are we having fun?

I have always experienced JCUA as a gutsy grassroots organization. Our fundraising events should spotlight all that is gutsy about JCUA; our honorees, our community partners, our leaders, our work and our persevering deep commitment we have to working for social justice, hand-in-hand with our partners. Simply put, JCUA is and always has been built on relationships.

“Acts of Change” is a brand-new fundraising event for JCUA. This is the event I’ve been chomping at the bit to do.

On June 20 at the Ravenswood Event Center’s Atrium Loft and Billboard Factory, JCUA will present the Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award to two true actors of change, Kalman Resnick and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. The evening will be performed in acts and will include performances from “Soul Sisters –A Multicultural Musical,” Tamar Manasseh, author of “Chai-ME: My Exploration of Race, Religion and Spirituality in America,” and it’s certain to be an ultra-creative way to experience an event that will convey exactly what JCUA is about. (It will also be fun.)

“Acts of Change” will begin with a high-energy jazz reception, followed by a short program performed “in acts.” Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. No one will leave hungry for more food, but at the end of the event, my hope is that people will leave hungry for more acts of change.

For more information and to register for “Acts of Change,” go to

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