Logan Zimmerman

Logan Zinman

If you ask Logan what she does for living, she’ll probably tell you, “hanging out with teenagers.” She’s underselling it. Logan helps turn today’s Chicago Jewish teens into tomorrow’s Jewish leaders as the Regional Director of Youth Engagement for NFTY’s Chicago Area Region. She works and connects with hundreds of teens year-round to help create events and programs that foster leadership development and Jewish identity, and give teens confidence in their gifts and talents. She offers unconditional support to everyone she works with, including other adult youth workers. “She is always there for advice, a meal, or a hug,” said Sarah Rosenbaum, one of Logan’s nominators and the youth director at Am Shalom in Glencoe.

Working with youth is just one of Logan’s passions and causes. From an early age, she has volunteered significant hours with and for the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her friends describe her as a warrior because she runs marathons and participates in events such as Relay for Life to benefit these causes, and she travels the country training volunteers and spreading the word about cancer education and prevention. She has done all this with an extra resiliency this year, having lost her father and one of her closest friends to cancer, as well as her grandmother. In spite of it all, her friends say her spirit has remained unbroken; she has stayed strong with her courageous and distinctive sense of humor. 

When Logan isn’t busy coordinating or traveling to and from NFTY or ACS events—oh and teaching religious school and the Rosh Chodesh program at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue in Evanston—she enjoys cooking and play dates with Karma, her large spotted dog.

Logan Zinman


Pays the bills:
Regional Director of Youth Engagement for NFTY’s Chicago Area Region – I mentor teen leaders to plan and execute events for their peers across the Chicagoland area, and help to build youth programs at congregations across the region.

On the side:
I teach at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue – last year in the 7th grade Gesher Program, and this year in the high school Rosh Chodesh girls’ group.

Relationship status:
How much did my bubbie pay you to include this?

Describe yourself in 10 words or less:

Here is a haiku I wrote for a class about the labels others put on me as a Jewish kid from an interfaith family:

Interfaith kid of
patrilineal descent –
catholic bat-cohen.

Celebrity doppelganger:
I would say Betty Draper/Francis from Mad Men—and I don’t mean the actress that plays her, January Jones. I think I was born in the wrong decade, and Betty can rock everything ‘60s. If I’m cool enough someday to be played in a movie, I might as well take some liberties about the decade I inhabit and get to dress like Jackie O every day.

How do you Jew in Chicago?
Because so much of my work days and Shabbats are spent in the Jewish community, I like to keep it simple in my social life. When we can make time, friends from camp and I cook potluck Shabbat dinners together – challah being my specialty.

I am passionate about urban education – before I became full-time in the Jewish community, I worked with Ceasefire and for Chicago Public Schools, counseling at-risk teens and improving comprehensive sex education in and out of schools. There is so much work to be done in Chicago to strengthen neighborhoods, with good education and safety at the heart of what many communities need – it is daunting but vital to improving the futures of everyone in our city.

How do you give back?

When I was in middle and high school, my parents plugged me into volunteering with the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as an outlet for my worry and frustration with my dad’s recurring battles with cancer.

In the decade since then, I lost my dad, but I’ve had the opportunity to enhance cancer education and prevention on over 500 college campuses, as well as train hundreds of volunteers and staff across the country for the American Cancer Society as part of the National Leadership Training Team. This January I began my term as one of the first young professional members of the ACS Illinois Division Board of Directors.

I also fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their Team In Training program, which has helped me put one foot in front of the other through two marathons (and hopefully a third at the Chicago Marathon in October!). I could spend the rest of my life giving back to these organizations, and still not put a dent in how much they’ve given my family.

Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
Be even more indecisive than I am now. Travel, learning how to cook and speak the language in each place I visit; pay educators, social workers, and Jewish professionals a salary that matches how hard they work and how much they care about their students; finally start my food blog, “Butchering Bubbie”—Jewish recipes with a twist; read the tall stack of books on my nightstand; invent a macaroni and cheese that tastes good but doesn’t give Jews tummy troubles; get the cast of Wet Hot American Summer back together to finally make that sequel; put a community garden in each Chicago Public School; buy the hiking pack in my Amazon.com “save for later” shopping cart and hike and sleep under the stars for months.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
I envision a community strengthened by invested 20- and 30-somethings, with mentorship generationally up and down the line – experienced professionals and retirees mentoring young professionals, teens seeing a path and a way to be connected to Judaism in the years between b’nai mitzvah and putting their own children in Hebrew School, and points of entry for all ages that infuse Judaism into activities they already have an interest in. Judaism is enriching and provides grounding in our values and culture, and if we meet people where they are and build a community around them, rather than providing a platter of services and hoping they’ll like one, I think more people will benefit from what Judaism offers.

Me in 10 years:
My path isn’t totally illuminated yet – and I’m excited about it. I hope that I am happy, healthy, sharing my life with a husband that likes adventure and testing new cookie recipes, still running every weekend with my large spotted dog, making change and teaching young people how to impact the world. The details will fill themselves in.