Cathee Weiss (she/her)
Senior Director of Development, Western RegionHUC/Los Angeles
Cathee was interviewed on January 4, 2022. She passed away on August 18, 2022.
Please tell me about your Jewish journey and your journey to HUC.
I grew up as a Conservative Jew and was alienated for as long as I remember. I exited the Jewish community as soon as I had the ability to do so and went away for a few decades. When I came to Los Angeles after a career in New York, friends brought me to Kol Ami, a synagogue led by Rabbi Denise Eger ‘88. I subsequently joined a Seder led by Rabbi Eger, and I experienced for the first time what Judaism might look like. A Judaism I could relate to. All of a sudden, the world that alienated me spoke directly to me and gave me a path to living a meaningful life.
Please tell me about any creative outlets you have in your role.
I believe that all of my work is creative. I believe that the creative spirit works through all of our endeavors if we want it to. As a fundraiser, I listen to our donors’ and our prospects’ experiences and stories. I hear about their accomplishments. I hear about their challenges. I hear about their families. I hear about their work, their hopes and dreams and I am able, with the collaborative support of an extraordinarily creative team, to write proposals and present opportunities that bring meaning to their lives. Fundraising can be extremely creative. In addition, I’m responsible for many of the videos that portray HUC’s story, and that keeps me on my creative toes every day.
What is one of your favorite experiences engaging with a donor?
I’m close to a lot of donors, so I have many, many experiences, but I’ll talk about one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had. I was with someone who was the son of a major donor, but was not a donor himself yet. I had dinner with him and we spoke about my experience with his mother, and spent a couple of hours around a table talking about the difference that his mother had made in the life of our community, by her strategic and thoughtful donations. At the end of the evening, I asked him if he would consider endowing a scholarship in his mother’s name, and without a beat, without ever giving before, he said “of course!”
What is special about the Western Region Board of Advisors?
The Western Region Board of Advisors is filled with individuals who demand a certain acumen of excellence and are accustomed to learning from the best and the brightest. I am blessed to be supported and challenged by this group on a daily basis, enriching my life and the lives of our community.
How would you describe HUC in one word?
Extraordinary. Can I do more than one word? Five words? A place like no other. People are so smart and so committed, and are filled with the compassion and tradition–they lead with their values. So very often, I see people care more about me and how I’m doing than what I produced that week. It’s a pretty amazing experience to have. I worked in politics for a long time. I worked in television commercials and music videos, and that’s not the way it always flows.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have 2 kids, a dog, 2 cats — free time is limited, but I love to watch movies and hang out in my hot tub. I read the Times every Sunday morning, the whole morning. It’s me and the paper. And my girlfriends….I talk everyday to my girlfriends.