The new Chief Executive of ORT UK has expressed his excitement after starting work for one of British Jewry’s most well-established charities.
Dan Rickman, who took on the role at the start of the year, hopes to “find new ways to showcase in the UK the work that ORT does across the world” while aiming to bring “new energy, creativity and innovation” to the organization.
“In my first few weeks as CEO, I was blown away by the scale of ORT’s global presence. It takes some time to completely process the number of life-changing projects ORT runs,” he adds.
One of Dan’s main aims is “to fuel opportunities by taking people to the projects ORT conducts globally” so others can gain first-hand experience of how the organization empowers people and strengthens communities.
Dan had the chance to do this himself when he joined 16 students and their families on a visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, last month, as part of the charity’s Bar and Batmitzvah twinning program.
He credits seeing a hands-on robotics class as a highlight of the trip. “I was amazed by the skills demonstrated by the children and really astounded by how much the children had acquired through their lessons – it was wonderful to observe.”
In Dan’s eyes, ORT UK is not just another education charity – he believes it stands out because it aims to “empower ORT students to become self-sufficient”.
“It is about teaching how to fish rather than providing the fish, which is so vitally important,” he adds.
The prospect of becoming a chief executive at this stage of his career had not been on Dan’s radar, but he knew from a young age that he wanted to “make an impact in the Jewish community”.
The 33-year-old’s rabbi once likened him to a pied piper and assured him that others would follow his lead. “I felt I had the ability to lead and I wanted to utilize that for good,” Dan says.
His career path demonstrates this – Dan has been involved in leadership roles within the Jewish community for many years, starting at Brighton BBYO as its President, which led to his first job with Aish UK. He went on to become the Head of Fundraising at Magen David Adom UK, then Executive Director at Mitzvah Day.
Dan’s most notable success in recent years was The Chicken Soup Challenge which brought Jews and Muslims together, resulting in 2,500 bowls of ‘Jewish penicillin’ being served and Mitzvah Day making national news headlines.
Looking forward, one of Dan’s goals is to put “real focus and determination into finding the next generation of donors” and “meeting more ORT students across the world”.
Simon Alberga, ORT UK Chairman, said: “Dan’s experience with Mitzvah Day and other Jewish communal organisations will be invaluable in his new position and I am confident he will successfully lead our continued growth and development.”
Dan succeeds Adam Overlander-Kaye, who left ORT UK to move to Jewish Care last October.