Will assume post as Mayor Eric Johnson’s senior adviser
By Sharon Wisch-Ray
After 10 years of service at the helm of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Anita Zusman Eddy will leave the post for a new one at the City of Dallas. Zusman Eddy’s last day at the JCRC is Aug. 12 and her new role as Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s senior adviser starts Aug. 15.
“Anita Zusman Eddy was already an important ally in our efforts to build a safer, stronger and more vibrant future for Dallas,” Mayor Johnson said. “And with her outstanding experience and skill set, she will make an excellent addition to our team.”
During Zusman Eddy’s tenure, the JCRC has earned a stellar reputation as a steward of the Dallas Jewish community’s relationships with the greater Dallas community and with state and local government and education entities as well as other Jewish communities in Texas.
“We are so grateful to Anita for her hard work at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Her leadership has elevated the prestige and respect for the Dallas JCRC to the national level. It’s recognized as one of the best, and this is an achievement that we are all proud of, and attribute to her vision, determination and professionalism,” said Igor Alterman, president and CEO of the Dallas Federation.
For Zusman Eddy, the new position is a dream come true.
“I have a long-held aspiration to work in City Hall. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with elected officials. I’ve always wanted the chance to actually work inside government and that — combined with the fact that I would be working with the mayor of Dallas, which is a city that I love — was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Zusman Eddy.
Before becoming executive director of the JCRC, Zusman Eddy was the vice president/director of Economic Development and Government Affairs at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. She earned her J.D./MPA from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Zusman Eddy has worked with Mayor Johnson throughout the years. Most recently she was appointed to his Anti-Hate Advisory Council. While that role will likely go away, since she will now be a staff member, she said, “I’m sure every day will be different. I’m ready to do whatever needs to get done and I have a feeling I’ll be asked to pitch in wherever there is a need.” One of her roles will be liaising with Dallas City Council members.
“I am thrilled to have Anita join the mayor/council team,” said Jaynie Schultz, council member representing District 11. “The opportunity to work with someone with her vast governmental experience and insight into complex community relations will be a tremendous value to all of us on Council. But [also], on a personal note, having a brilliant Jewish woman on board is a gift I’m very excited about,” Schultz said.
Cara Mendelsohn, Council member representing District 12, added, “I welcome her to the City of Dallas and look forward to working with her.”
For the leadership of the JCRC, Zusman Eddy’s departure is bittersweet as they say goodbye to their daily working relationship. However, she is leaving the JCRC in capable hands.
“Anita guided and built the Dallas JCRC to be an advocate for our Jewish community, Israel and community relations in the region and state as a whole,” said Cyd Friedman, chair of the Dallas JCRC. “The partnerships and relationships she has built throughout her decade at JCRC will continue to make our community stronger and safer. Michelle Golan, director of Community Outreach and Programming, and I will work closely with our Past Chair Cindy Moskowitz, our Executive Committee and Federation leadership to carry on the work Anita has been doing to maintain our strong relationships with all aspects of our community in Dallas, [in] Texas and across the country.”
Moskowitz added that Zusman Eddy’s leadership embraced the notion that a strong, vibrant Jewish community relied on a healthy larger community within which to flourish.
“So when we focused on education or early childhood education, the workforce, health care and service organizations, she did this as part of the mission of creating a healthy community, for the Jewish community and around it,” said Moskowitz.
She added that Zusman Eddy was expert at leaning into the organizations that had similar missions to JCRC like ADL and AJC without redoubling efforts. The result was getting more things done efficiently and cooperatively while raising the profile of the Jewish community when it came to policy and statewide efforts.
“The Federations and JCRCs across the state of Texas were turning to her for her leadership,” Moskowitz said.
For Zusman Eddy, the last decade has been a record she is proud of and one that is a solid foundation on which to build.
Among the activities she is most proud of are:
The Interfaith Seder: Next year’s event will be the community’s ninth and it has grown from about 80 people to some 600 before COVID-19. “People tell us it’s become a ‘must attend’ event in Dallas. It gives us at the JCRC a chance to bring folks in from different communities who may never have been in a Jewish institution, who have never broken bread with Jewish people and it introduces them to an experience that is inspired by the Jewish Passover Seder. It teaches those people about Jewish values, the Jewish religion, the Jewish history of slavery and then our fight for freedom — and those values and history resonate with so many other communities,” said Zusman Eddy.
Relationships within the Jewish community: “We get very positive feedback and we’re very flattered that people tell us the JCRC is really well respected. We have excellent relationships with agencies and organizations and rabbis in the Jewish community. We enjoy working with the other organizations and entities in the Jewish community, and we feel very proud that others mutually feel that they enjoy working with us,” said Zusman Eddy.
Impacting legislation while partnering with other organizations: In 2017, with AJC and community lay leaders, JCRC was instrumental to Texas passing an anti-BDS bill. The JCRC worked with AJC and ADL to successfully advocate for Texas to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The JCRC worked with legislators and the governor to form what is now known as the Texas Holocaust Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.
“Day at the State”: Last but not least, Zusman Eddy said she is proud of JCRC’s creation and growth of the statewide legislative day, “Day at the State.” For many years, the Dallas JCRC was the only one in the state that had professional staff. Now others have followed suit and hired their own staff. For many years, the JCRC coordinated the Day at the State for all of the Jewish communities around Texas to meet with legislators every other year when the legislature is in session. Day at the State grew from 20 people when it started to more than 150 people at its last installment before COVID-19.
Zusman Eddy emphasized the importance of all of the JCRC’s multi-pronged activities.
“It helps solidify our position at the state level and when issues come up that are of concern like the anti-BDS bill and other legislation,” she said.
She also tipped her hat to the leaders in the Jewish community that have helped her “get it done.”
“I’m very grateful to our Federation/JCRC leadership for the support that they and the entire community have given to the JCRC. It is their backing and involvement that allows us to be successful.”
As she heads into her new job with the City of Dallas, Zusman Eddy has a skill set she has honed at JCRC and relationships she has built over the last decade. They are sure to serve her and, in turn, Dallas residents well.