>> ... Next Generation ...
NU"--taen Won!" Traveler•
Downtown Detroiter with no city limits.
VIVIAN HENOCH I SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
he's soft-spoken with a ready
smile that can light up a
room. From Kelli Saperstein's
outward demeanor, one might
be surprised to meet a young woman
with the gumption, inner strength and
resilience of a marathon runner.
In a traditionally male-dominated
profession, she excels as a trusted
financial and investment adviser at
Telemus Capital. A volunteer with an
exceptionally entrepreneurial spirit, she
serves on multiple boards, including
Jewish Family Service, Federation's
Women's Philanthropy and NEXTGen
A natural leader with a sense of
adventure, Saperstein has gravitated
to the work of Federation's overseas
partner agency, the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee (more commonly
known as the JDC or "the Joint"). As
a member of JDC's young leadership
development arm — Entwine — Kelli
recently traveled to China and led an
international mission to Ethiopia, which
she wrote about in the pages of the JN.
Raised in Charlevoix, Saperstein
describes her childhood as idyllic —
growing up in a close-knit family and a
community where her high school class
was just 100 people.
"It was beautiful, and I always enjoy
returning," she says. While earning a
B.A. in economics and English from the
University of Michigan, she attended
a summer program between her junior
and senior year at the London School
of Economics and Political Science in
London, England, where she studied
market structure theory and fundamental
analysis. Prior to joining Telemus, she was
the director of operations at the Jablon
Group in Los Angeles. With the pull of
family in Michigan, Saperstein returned
With the desire to be a part of the
movement back to the city of Detroit and
planting new roots in the community,
Saperstein moved into the Broderick
Tower Downtown. She has immersed
herself in all the city has to offer, running
along the Dequindre Cut (she runs half-
marathons and hopes to complete a full
someday), biking to the Eastern Market,
practicing yoga, pursuing her interest
in photography and enjoying city life in
general — attending gallery shows and
discovering new shops and the many
restaurants popping up in Midtown and
the neighborhoods. She sat down recently
March 13 • 2014
Q: How did you get started with
your work at Federation?
"I got involved with the Detroit Jewish
community in 2007 at the suggestion
of Gregg Orley. He advised Jared to call
Federation and see what opportunities
there were for young adults. One step led
to another, and Jared and I joined a group
of Detroiters on a Jewish Federation of
North American National Mission to Israel
that summer. I was hooked from then
Q: As a board member of NEXTGen,
what changes have you seen in
Jewish Detroit and Federation?
Kelli Saperstein at the DIA
to answer some questions about her life.
Q: You grew up in the heart of
"Pure Michigan" tourism. What was
"I had a fantastic time in Charlevoix.
Q: How did you get connected with
I spent my summers on the water sailing
and my winters skiing. I was also so
fortunate that my parents liked to travel.
We would really explore the places we
visited — trying to get a sense of how
the locals live. Even during my years in
college on spring breaks, we'd travel as
a family, and I would meet my parents
wherever they were vacationing.
"I also have my parents to thank
for my interest in finance and the
financial services industry. They were in
banking before they retired, so I grew
up discussing the markets and world
economies at the dinner table."
"Telemus was started by Gary Ran, Bob
Stone and Lyle Wolberg — all very active
in the Jewish community. I was connected
to the company through family friends who
passed my resume along to Gary and put
in a good word for me. It really speaks to
the strong network of people pulling for
one another in our community. And it also
goes to show how determined the Detroit
business community is to attract, connect
and recruit young talent."
Q: Where did you start working in
Q: You are such an active part of the
Jewish community, not only here in
Detroit but through your affiliation
with the JDC, that some may be
surprised to learn that you are Jewish
by choice. How did you come to your
decision to convert?
"I converted to Judaism after I married
"I took an internship at Morgan
Stanley in the Livonia office during
my senior year at Michigan. After I
graduated, I worked there for two years
before moving to Schechter Wealth
Strategies in Birmingham. I was at
Schechter for almost five years before
deciding to move to Los Angeles, where
I worked as the director of operations
at a boutique insurance firm. Living in
Los Angeles was fun and exciting, but it
was way too far from my family. I moved
back to Detroit in 2010 and got a job at
Telemus Capital, first as a wealth analyst
(I've since been promoted to wealth
my late husband, Jared Saperstein, in 2007.
Jared and I were married for five amazing
years before he passed away. He showed
me the lovely traditions of Judaism. I began
to learn more about the religion and really
connected with the values.
"The process of converting was a
journey of self-discovery and really a terrific
experience. I worked closely with Rabbi
Harold Loss at Temple Israel. Jared was re-
learning a lot of what I was learning for the
first time, and we had a lot of fun together
deciding how our Jewish home would look. I
am very comfortable with my commitment to
Judaism; in fact, I couldn't be anything else."
"The creation of CommunityNEXT was
a real game-changer in the Federation
landscape. Detroit came up with a unique
and exciting way to engage young
people — bringing young Jews together
for fun. Then over time and through that
engagement, people began to learn
about Federation and all it has to offer.
I give a lot of credit to [Federation CEO]
Scott Kaufman — and our community
lay leadership — for developing this bold
"Another step toward change is what
NEXTGen is doing with the EPIC fundraiser,
where you have young adults stepping
forward and actively committing their
dollars to Federation. NEXTGen is also
responding to the Board's desire for
leadership and development training. We
have created a program called Elevate
(now is its second year) that provides the
NEXTGen Board with training and tools to
further their development as volunteers;
what is terrific about this program is that
the training and tools are easily transferred
to our professional lives as well."
Q: What would you tell someone
considering moving back to Detroit
or into the city for the first time?
"You will not be disappointed! You
really have a chance to make your mark
on the city and help shape its future!
"There is so much opportunity in
Detroit. It's a very tight-knit community,
and you can really see the city changing
in front of you. For business, it seems that
there is a very low barrier to entry, so
there are new restaurants and businesses
opening up all over. People who live in
Detroit want the city to succeed."
Vivian Henoch is editor of myjewishdetroit.
org, where a longer version of this story