Rachel Neima Chasky, 28

Popularizing microfinance within the Jewish community

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It’s rare to find a woman who succeeds in the financial sector yet bolts from that career path because she believes her skills would be of better use if dedicated to her community.

After working five years as a risk analyst for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, Rachel Neima Chasky says she had no qualms about quitting her lucrative job to attend graduate school with the goal of dedicating her new career to the public sector. She recently finished her second year in the dual-degree master’s of public administration/master’s of arts program in Jewish history at New York University, where she serves as co-president of the NYU Microfinance Initiative Club.

Chasky has married her proficiency with numbers and keen understanding of finance with her love of Jewish history by becoming an active NextGen board member of the Hebrew Free Loan Society, a New York-based organization that has provided interest-free loans to those in need for more than a century. The goal of the NextGen board is to establish a network of young Jews interested in microfinance initiatives within the Jewish community. In addition to organizing events and attending strategic planning meetings, Chasky is involved in cocktail party fundraisers and an annual trip to meet with borrowers. Her mission, she says, is to bring a capital markets approach to Jewish organizations.

Chasky’s communal involvement extends beyond microfinance. She is a founding member of the Orthodox Union’s Young Leadership Cabinet and has volunteered with Areyvut, an organization that teaches young people about philanthropy, as well as NCSY and Yachad (the OU’s council on disability).

The more she ventures into the Jewish nonprofit world as a lay leader, the more she sees what she hopes to change as a Jewish communal professional.

“Everybody works in silos,” Chasky says. “The silos need to be broken down and we need to work together.”

Love of the outdoors: Chasky recently visited Australia and New Zealand, where she hiked and “jumped off a mountain.”

Favorite college sport: Fencing. She thinks of it as “physical chess.”

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