The New Center for Arts and Culture, a premier Jewish programming organization for greater Boston, has appointed Laura Mandel as Executive Director. Since 2011, Mandel served as the leader of New Center NOW, the young adult programming division for the organization. She replaces interim Executive Director Helen Kadish, who will remain with the organization at Chief Operating Officer.
Mandel’s nationally recognized innovative approach to the exploration of Jewish culture through public art, food, music and community engagement, has increased participation in New Center NOW programs by over 350% in four years.
New Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Chair, Howard Cohen, commented, “Laura’s programmatic approach has appeal that goes far beyond the young adult audience. Her vision brings high quality Jewish experiences that are, most importantly, fun for my whole family.”
Mandel was a recipient of the 2013 Chai in the Hub Combined Jewish Philanthropies Young Leadership Award for her programming and partnerships within the community. Through Muse & Schmooze, her weekly blog on JewishBoston.com, and monthly Jewish Journal pieces, Mandel has curated the best of Jewish culture in Boston for thousands of readers. Mandel championed Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen, a tasting event in which local chefs bring a modern twist to traditional Jewish dishes. Now in its sixth year and attracting hundreds of attendees, this is yet another program that has put NCAC on the Boston cultural map.
Mandel said, “Through the vision of our young leadership, New Center NOW has brought a fresh understanding of how we can communally explore the richness of Jewish arts and culture I’m continually motivated by what we’ve created so far, and inspired by the possibilities that lay ahead of us.”
Most recently, Mandel developed Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights, the first Hanukkah celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, serving as a preview for 8 Nights, 8 Windows, the first Jewish public art project in Boston. The evening was the largest cultural celebration at the MFA to date, attracting over 2,300 participants. Mandel developed 8 Nights, 8 Windows as a CJP Presentense Boston Fellow in 2013, and the full public art project will take place in Boston from Dec 6-14, 2015. “Laura has changed the game for Jewish culture in Boston — who would have ever thought you could see thousands of people lighting Hanukkah candles at the MFA?” said Barry Shrage, President of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
A 2004 graduate of Carnegie Mellon, with a Bachelors of Humanities and Arts degree in Fine Art and English, Mandel has worked for The Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, Hadassah Southern California, and the New Center for a combined 11 years of non-profit management, program development, and fundraising. She has served as a volunteer of the Pittsburgh JCC, United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, NCJW LA, Eser Young Adult Learning, the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association, and the Jewish Community Relations Council. Mandel teaches an array of art and craft classes, runs her own custom Judaica business, and is a former Prozdor faculty member. A Newton native, Mandel currently resides in Brookline with her husband and son.