Liz Palmer Helping Reshape TTSP As New Executive Director

by Lonny Goldsmith, originally published on TC Jewfolk

Liz Palmer, who was named the interim executive director of Talmud Torah of St. Paul last fall, accepted the position on a full-time basis last month after a unanimous vote from the board of directors. 

Palmer came into the role as a consultant through her work with Mighty Consulting, a leader in non-profit interim leadership in the Twin Cities. The experience of stepping into organizations during some of their most trying times has helped Palmer hone her skills and processes, as well as an understanding of what organizations like TTSP need as they face change.

As the mother of 6 children, who have all moved through the stages of elementary, secondary schooling, and beyond, Palmer has a deep understanding of modern family life. Paired with a background in school administration, her toolkit is lined with personal reference points and values that position her to serve skillfully and passionately.

“I care about this place. I truly do,” Palmer said. “I care about what it has been, what it promises to be and what it can be for and with the Jewish community of St. Paul and beyond.”

It has been a tumultuous time for the nearly 60-year-old school. In the past 10 months, both the day school and afternoon school programs have stopped running as the board has tried to refocus the school on what comes next, which includes strengthening its Midrasha high school program and Hineni adult education program.

Palmer said that as the community’s needs have evolved, TTSP needs to as well. To disregard the pressures on time for students of all ages, the goals of synagogues to hold families in new ways, the varied pulls on attention for youth, and the palpable need for flexibility and relational connection for the Jewish community of today would be a disservice to the generations of donors who have invested their time and treasure to ensure that TTSP has a positive impact on community learning.

Palmer said the school is committed to showing up for the community of today in a way that conveys connection and hope for a thriving Jewish presence in the Twin Cities.    

“We have created space so this historic institution can once again resume its essential role as a relevant communal asset that will engender a better-educated and united community,” she said, discussing the importance of the school’s Seat at the Table campaign. “Talmud Torah is being flexible and adaptable to serve the learners who are showing up, and grow the teen and adult programs in ways that provide a unique value.”

“Liz is an intuitive, empathetic leader, highly skilled at building teams and running nonprofits. She is the leader we need at this critical moment,” said TTSP Board President Jared Miller. “As interim director, Liz undertook a major administrative reorganization that modernized Talmud Torah and made it a fantastic place to work and learn. She is passionate about Talmud Torah’s mission and knows how to get the work done. I am thrilled to have her on board.”

Palmer is from New Orleans and, while she didn’t grow up Jewish, got her first paycheck from the Jewish Community Center in her hometown where she was a camp counselor. 

“I saw first-hand how Jewish families leaned into their traditions, invested in exposing their children to Hebrew and Biblical instruction, and committed deeply to the members of their community,” Palmer said. “The impact of this exposure was profound.

“I make it a practice to listen, learn, listen again…and then lead. That is what I am doing here. Listening is key. I will ensure that this is a place that welcomes every type of learner in and creates meaningful connections in the form of classes, services, resources, conversations and relationships. We are setting up a home with seats at the table for all guests. Y’all stop in anytime!”