New director to lead Amherst Survival Center

  • K. Lev Ben-Ezra —Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 12/14/2018 12:19:41 AM

AMHERST — Growing up in Amherst, K. Lev Ben-Ezra said she has long been aware of the support, dignity and respect the Amherst Survival Center provides to low-income residents throughout the region.

Next month, Ben-Ezra will assume the role as the center’s executive director.

Ben-Ezra succeeds Mindy Domb, who is leaving after more than five years in the position to become the next state representative for the 3rd Hampshire District.

The director of youth and workforce development for Community Action Pioneer Valley, Ben-Ezra said she has “huge respect for the organization”

“I have been impressed for many years by the Amherst Survival Center’s commitment to leverage volunteers, donations and advocacy to create inclusive community, starting by meeting people’s most basic needs,” Ben-Ezra said, adding that she has grown increasingly passionate about ways to address societal challenges through individual intervention and systemic change.

The selection of Ben-Ezra was made after a rigorous, thoughtful and community-oriented search process, said Ted Parker, vice president of its board.

“There was a robust response and we selected what we think of as the most qualified and enthusiastic candidate,” Parker said.

He described Ben-Ezra as someone who is dynamic and who also brings a track record of building bridges and communities.

“Lev has the skills, commitment, vision and creativity to sustain the center’s progress and success and lead us to new accomplishments,” Parker said.

Ben-Ezra has worked in several other organizations serving youth, including those who are at risk, has been chairwoman of the Franklin County/North Quabbin Communities that Care Coalition for eight years, a steering committee member for the Hampshire County Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth, and a member of the Regional Employment Board’s Youth Career Connections Council. She is also an adjunct faculty member of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies and a board member of the Community Health Center of Franklin County.

Lynn Griesemer, president of the survival center’s board, also expressed excitement and anticipation that Ben-Ezra will continue the work the center does from its Sunderland Road site.

“Over the past several years, and with the continued and increased support of the community, the center has expanded its collection of programs,” said Griesemer, who is also the president of the Amherst Town Council. “As a result, the center has been able to meet more needs and develop and achieve an ambitious strategic plan.”

Because Domb is departing before Ben-Ezra’s late January start, Jan Eidelson, former president of the center’s board and an active volunteer, will act as interim executive director for about a month.

Domb said she is confident Ben-Ezra’s skills and leadership, and the staff and volunteers, will continue to meet the needs of neighbors.

“Lev brings a commitment and respect to everything that makes the Amherst Survival Center a special and highly effective organization,” Domb said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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