Greg Yawitz, board chair of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, is a proven leader in the St. Louis Jewish and secular communities. A people person, Yawitz prefers to connect in person, “but because of the pandemic, we are having Zoom meetings as we try to address people’s needs in the safety of their homes,” he says.
“I believe in ethical leadership, Jewish values and acts of kindness,” says Yawitz, the owner and managing director of commercial real estate broker and developer KEAT Properties in Olivette. “Helping others brings me personal meaning.”
His involvement in the federation is just one of the ways in which Yawitz embodies this purpose. “Jewish Federation exists to help many people – our support is not just limited to Jewish people,” he says. “Hunger impacts people of all religions and races. Through our more than 60 community partners, we address basic human needs, including food, emergency financial assistance, counseling and poverty. We build partnerships with the overall community, support housing and meals for the elderly, support education, assist people with disabilities and much more.”
John Greenberg, vice chair of campaign for the federation, calls Yawitz a “highly experienced and selfless leader who personifies the vital role of the Jewish Federation during this COVID-19 crisis.”
A resident of the metro area for the past 30 years, Yawitz was born here but moved with his family during fifth grade. He returned after graduating from Los Angeles’ University of Southern California. Immediately, he became civically involved through the St. Louis Counts group and its merger with the St. Louis Ambassadors, becoming the merged organization’s chair.
Married for 27 years, Yawitz and his wife, Julie, live in Olivette with 21-year-old daughter Kaitlyn, who has autism and recently completed her schooling through Special School District of St. Louis County. In May, Yawitz’s wife opened an AR Workshop franchise that’s a do-it-yourself woodworking and craft studio, combining her love of craft with a business that would enable their daughter to work with her and have meaningful employment each day. (The couple’s other daughter, Alyson, is currently a graduate student at Boston University.)
In 2003, Yawitz received the federation’s Grosberg Young Leadership Award. In 2018, he and his wife were honored with a partnership award from JProStl, which supports professionals working at Jewish organizations throughout St. Louis, in recognition of the difference they make in the Jewish community and the metro area.
Yawitz calls himself fortunate to have had excellent, transformative Jewish leadership training. He served six years on the National Young Leadership Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, belonged to the 2015 St. Louis Wexner Heritage cohort, co-chairs the large-intermediate-size Jewish Federations and serves on the executive committee of the Jewish Federations of North America. He also chairs the local chapter of Autism Speaks and serves on the board of Chesterfield’s Jewish Rock Radio.
Yawitz became board chair of Creve Coeur’s Congregation Shaare Emeth in 2014. When his term ended, he helped lead the congregation through a major renovation project. “I looked at the dollars being spent as more valuable than my own because donors chose to give those dollars, making them sacred,” he relates.
An innate storyteller and award-winning photographer and writer, Alice Handelman provides Ladue News readers with a glimpse into lives that enrich the metro area.
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