Four Questions for Jodi Schwartz

Jodi Schwartz, chair of UJA’s Caring Department

Jodi Schwartz’s involvement with UJA-Federation spans 20 years (even longer if you count the UJA breakfasts her dad hosted at synagogue). She currently serves as chair of the Caring Department, which oversees UJA’s targeted investments to help people cope with poverty, mental illness, end of life, and other challenges no one should face alone.

Jodi is recognized as one of the world’s leading lawyers in the field of taxation, and is a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.


(Q) What’s it been like to rise through the ranks in a field traditionally dominated by men?
(A) I work at an intense, hard-driving corporate law firm, and in the early days, for a long time, I was the only woman in the room. But I wasn’t as conscious of that at the time. I always focused on being as good a professional as I could be. I was lucky to join a firm that is the ultimate meritocracy. It didn’t matter who you were, as long as you gave your all to the clients.


(Q) What advice would you share with other women who are struggling with work-life balance?
(A) When I’m mentoring young women — and men, too — I tell them there’s no such thing as balance. Balance is a myth. Seek to redirect through your imbalance. When you have little kids, with school commitments in September and then again in June, it feels like you’re never at work. Then at the end of the year, because of work, you’re never at home. Don’t be hard on yourself; you can’t control everything. And self-care is really important. That half hour on the treadmill will pay itself back.


(Q) What’s your approach to philanthropy?
(A) I like the intellectual parts of philanthropy, the details. What’s the cutting edge in service delivery; what can be leveraged, or replicated or expanded. That to me is intriguing. I’m as moved by the idea of changing the system as I am by helping an individual child who’s affected by the system.


(Q) Who were the female philanthropic mentors in your life?
(A) UJA-Federation has had such incredible women leaders: Elaine Winick, Louise Greilsheimer, Peggy Tishman, Judy Peck, Susie Stern, Alisa Doctoroff, Liz Jaffe, and many, many others. Too many to name. They’ve taught me how to be smart about philanthropy, how to ask others to donate, how philanthropic dollars can be invested smartly. I’m thankful to them all.