Toronto's Dr. Elyse Lackie Chair of JFNA's National Young Leadership Cabine

Long-Time UJA Federation Volunteer Continues to Inspire the Next Generation

By Daniel Horowitz--As someone who has personally welcomed more than 4,000 babies into the world, it’s safe to say that Dr. Elyse Lackie knows a thing or two about the “next generation”.

Lackie, who has practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology at Toronto’s North York General Hospital for more than 11 years, was recently named as a chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) National Young Leadership and NYL Cabinet.

Lackie, along with her co-chair, Keith Greenwald of Atlanta, will serve in their new roles until June, 2013.

“The impact Cabinet has made across the Jewish world is remarkable,” says Dr. Lackie. “We’re looking forward to this chance to engage and re-engage some of the greatest leaders of our Jewish community, and to continue to let Cabinet inspire all of us in all the things we do.”

Her involvement with Jewish Federations of North America was a natural progression for Dr. Lackie, who, through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, played – and continues to fulfill - a number of vital   volunteer roles across the community. 

Dr. Lackie, who currently sits on UJA Federation’s Board of Directors and its Israel and Overseas Committee, cut her teeth for her newest role as UJA’s Impact Toronto co-chair, its own Young Leadership Division.

“I have such a great opportunity to be involved in so many different aspects of UJA’s work, that I feel very prepared to take the lead with National Young Leadership with JFNA,” said Dr. Lackie. “I’ve sat on large committees, and small, been part of successful ventures, and not so successful. I’ve been a leader and also a participant. Probably the most important element of my Toronto experience has been the people I’ve met and worked with, on the lay and professional side. I have some wonderful mentors and friends thanks to UJA Federation, people I know I can call to get some perspective and wisdom.”

“We are delighted that Elyse has been selected to play such a vital role for Jewish Federations across the continent,” said UJA Federation of Greater Toronto President & CEO, Ted Sokolsky. “UJA Federation of Toronto can be very proud of her leadership and the continuing role Elyse and her fellow generation of emerging leaders from Toronto continue to play for entire Federation system.”

What drives someone like Dr. Lackie, who already undoubtedly lives an extremely busy life, to take on even more responsibilities?  It’s all about the sense of satisfaction she gets, simply by giving.

“I like to be busy, and I like diversity in what I do,” she explains. “I absolutely love my job and my practice, but when I go home at night, I like to put that same energy to work on other varied activities. Volunteering, whether it is my time, my talent, or my resources, gives me tremendous satisfaction. I feel passionately about continuing to build a Jewish tradition for myself, my extended family, and the generations to follow, and the work I do with Federation helps me achieve that goal. I am a firm believer that the Jewish world can be a light unto the nations, and so it seems natural to put my volunteer energy into helping keep that light alive.”

And, to ensure that she has the energy to keep that light burning bright, Dr. Lackie enjoys swimming, running and biking.  She’s even managed to use her love for the latter to benefit Israel.

“I did a half ironman triathlon a couple of years ago and have done 10 or 11 half marathons,” she says. “And I love mountain biking – I’ve ridden around most of Israel on my mountain bike over the past 7 years as part of the Alyn Hospital Wheels of Love Charity Bike Ride.”

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, a picturesque small town an hour south of Toronto, Dr. Lackie learned early the importance of building a strong Jewish community.

“I left home for school at 17 and moved to Toronto at age 23,” she explains. “In a small town, you have to work hard to be Jewish. In our family, we went to shul every week, because if we didn’t, and if the few other families didn’t, there wouldn’t be a shul for us when we needed it. That instilled in me a great understanding of the power and the pleasure of being part of a Jewish community. It also taught me that it’s something you always have to work at, to build the community you want to live in around you. You must never take it for granted. You can’t just expect it to be there.”

The lessons learned by Dr. Lackie bode well for the young lives she continues to touch through UJA Federation, and through her new role with Jewish Federations of North America. When it comes to providing invaluable insight and knowledge, she continues to deliver.


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