NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster has named Max Manasevit Director of Operations

Stephan Kline, NECHAMA’s Chief Executive Officer, said “I am delighted to welcome an exceptional leader and partner to the team. We were looking for someone with the technical skills and experience to advance NECHAMA’s mission in the field, and we found and hired him. Max has outstanding skills that will help drive our response and recovery operations and will motivate professionals and volunteers alike to rebuild devastated communities.” Kline added, “As important as his compelling professional background, I know that Max is fully inspired and motivated by NECHAMA’s  mission. He is eager to engage in tikkun olam not because our clients are Jewish (most are not), but because he lives his Jewish values every day.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Manasevit served for two and a half years as founding Director of Rebuilding Together Bayou. Beginning with a single grant, Manasevit ultimately managed a program dependent on volunteers that is now delivering 40 recovery projects annually and has an operating budget of $500,000.  Confronting horribly damaged houses, Manasevit’s team provided an array of recovery services in Louisiana including mucking and gutting, replacing and fixing roofs, interior rebuilds, mold remediation, and promoting accessibility.

Prior to Rebuilding Together Bayou, Manasevit focused on community resilience in his Master’s degree program in Crisis/Emergency/Disaster Management at Tulane University and was field commander for Resilience Force in New Orleans during Hurricane Ida. There he distributed 3,000 meals daily and managed a large broad-based public health pilot program focused on COVID-19 testing and relief. Manasevit also served as an incident commander managing a team of nurses administering rural health care on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for AC Disaster Consultants and as a U.S. Peace Corp volunteer in Mongolia where he focused on community development.

During his hiring process Manasevit informed us that “while I believe I have the education and work experience necessary to thrive at NECHAMA, I want this position because as a Jew in this field, I believe representation matters. It is not unusual for rural VOAD meetings to start or end with prayers mentioning Jesus, for the assumption to be that churches are synonymous with faith-based response, and for those being helped to have never met a Jew. NECHAMA is the only organization in a position to change that. I want to help build a disaster response organization that is unparalleled in the quality of service it offers, and to do it with a Magen David on my shirt. I cannot wait to get to work bringing Jewish values and Jewish volunteers into disaster response. This is really a dream come true.”

Manasevit is based in New Orleans. He is an active member of the local Jewish community and before graduate school worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. He can be reached at max@nechama.org.