2016-12-07 / Local News

Aspiring politician inspired by philanthropy-minded aunt to help others


FAMILY: Mom Joanne, Father Allen

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Emanuel

FAVORITE SPORT: Watching all Philadelphia teams, especially the Flyers

FAVORITE MUSIC: Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Led Zeppelin

HOBBY: Travel

As a child, Bellmawr resident David Spector learned about tikkun olam (repairing the world) from his Aunt Helen Spiegel. The glue that held the family together, this family matriarch encouraged young David and other relatives to participate in the many fundraising causes, volunteer endeavors and Jewish traditions dear to her heart.

Raised Catholic in a blended family, Spector, 28, associated her desire to improve the world to her Jewish faith. He also strongly identified with her activism. And now, like his beloved aunt, much in his life’s work revolves around community involvement and, since converting in his early 20s, Jewish causes. Putting his own imprint on tikkun olam, Spector’s desire to improve people’s lives has led him on a path of government work and elected office.

“I have always had a passion for trying to help people,” explained the up-and-coming politician, who, judging from his Facebook feed, is a ubiquitous presence at community events, including a recent veterans’ career fair and service day at Camden’s Cathedral Kitchen. “I enjoy helping people find solutions to problems.”

In fact, his real job as the director of government and public affairs at the Law Offices of Lynda L. Hinkle often lands him where he would go as a volunteer anyway. The main thrust of his work at the firm, Spector explained, is to connect people to public and private leaders and the resources that they need. He previously worked as communication coordinator for the District Legislative Office of Sen. Fred Madden, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera.

Currently finishing out a term as a councilman in Bellmawr, his involvement in charitable, social and community causes are numerous, spanning the Ronald McDonald House, Cathedral Kitchen, the Bellmawr Lions Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Volunteer Center of South Jersey, the Gloucester County Animal Shelter, Bellmawr’s Planning Board and the Bellmawr Democratic Club.

On the Jewish front, he has been involved with Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS) as a mentor, and was recently appointed to the Jewish Community Relations Council Board. Somehow he also finds time to pursue a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Rutgers University in Camden, where he also obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science and started the college’s Democrat Club.

Karin Elkis, a consultant/lobbyist who was previously a senior political advisor serving three U.S. senators, said she had known Spector for several years from his work in and around government when she ran into him at a Jewish Federation board meeting he attended some five years ago.

“I was surprised to see him in the room,” said Elkis, who is on Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors. “He presented to the board about mentoring a young man with special needs and told a powerful story. I was so impressed.”

Although involved in the Jewish community through his aunt and father, Spector explained that, because he was not raised in the community, he went to the meeting to introduce himself and offer to become more involved. As a result, Spector was recruited to attend the first Federation Leadership Institute (FLI), a training course run by Jewish Federation for upand coming leaders. It led to his recent appointment on the JCRC board.

“Advocating for Israel and different causes the community can get behind is right up my alley,” he said. “I hope to help in that regard.”

Although his term as a Bellmawr councilman will end in January as a result of an election defeat in a recent primary vote, Spector said he is not deterred from running for elected office again in the near future and working his way up the ranks to state or federal government.

“I think it can happen,” he said. “I just need to keep working hard because, obviously, things don’t happen overnight.” 

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