Purdue University Hillel Foundation
Press Release, March 2021
Contact: Michael Acks, Chair of the Board of Directors
Melissa Frey Comes Home to Purdue
Melissa Frey has been named the next Executive Director of the Purdue Hillel Foundation, announced by the Board of Directors. Melissa will succeed Philip Schlossberg, who has served as the Executive Director since 2004. Melissa will begin March 1 in a development capacity, assuming the Executive Director role on July 1, following Philip’s departure.
“Purdue Hillel is extremely excited to welcome Melissa home to Purdue as she begins her tenure as our next Executive Director. Her resume speaks for itself and the board is confident that she will only continue to build on the success that we have seen in the past. Purdue Hillel is in very capable hands for years to come,” said Michael Acks, chairman of the board.
Coming to Purdue Hillel is a homecoming for Melissa, as she is an alumna of Purdue University, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication Design. She also earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas. In her years as an undergraduate, Ms. Frey served a term as president of Purdue Hillel and co-host of the building. “My undergraduate experience was amplified in so many significant ways because of my involvement in Hillel. I believe deeply in the potential of the Jewish community on Purdue’s campus, and I know that this Hillel can grow to be a leader among Hillel on major campuses across North America,” Frey stated.
Ms. Frey brings an impressive background of ethical leadership development and innovative engagement strategies, with a particular focus on Jewish GenZ. Most significantly, Ms. Frey served as the Director of URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) Kutz Camp in Warwick, New York for twelve years. During that time, Ms. Frey was responsible for the oversight of an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited residential camp that included a dynamic summer leadership program for highly engaged teens, a mainstreamed program for Jewish teens with Autism, and a seasonal retreat business that fostered Jewish community and identity.
Throughout her experiences over the past two decades working in formal and informal Jewish education, Melissa has amassed a track record of building transformative leadership development curricula and deep and intentional Jewish communities. The communities nurtured under her leadership have propelled many of the brightest Jewish talent into meaningful professional and lay leadership roles in the Jewish and secular world. Reflecting upon those experiences, Ms. Frey noted, “I am most proud of the opportunities I created for college-age staff members to take on substantial leadership roles beyond what they could have imagined. Delivering on the variety of supports they needed, so they could shine and exceed their own expectations, made every day a gift. I can’t think of another place I would want to continue this kind of holy and impactful work other than at Purdue Hillel.”
It is a challenging time to work on university campuses as COVID-19 continues to strain university resources and impact the student experience in a way we never could have imagined. Students are stressed, isolated and struggling with a host of wellness issues. Purdue Hillel, in alignment with the university, has continued to meet the needs of Jewish students offering small group gatherings for everyone from freshmen to graduating seniors. Additionally, Hillel International launched Hillel@Home at the beginning of the pandemic last spring that can be accessed by students from wherever they reside. Hillel@Home builds on the campus experience by connecting college students to unrivaled content, community and Jewish life on a global scale. Efforts like Hillel@Home have been important in combatting isolation and bringing connections to Hillel students.
“We are very excited to welcome Melissa Frey to the Hillel professional world and I am confident she will bring deep commitment, creativity and transformative leadership to the Purdue Jewish community,” said Adam Lehman, President and CEO of Hillel International. “Her experience as a former Purdue Hillel student leader, coupled with her extensive background in Jewish camping, puts her in a unique position to engage and inspire the next generation of Purdue student leaders.”