Maya Holtz Groys always knew she wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. She has been the development director of Milestones Autism Resources in Warrensville Heights for eight years, serving from 2011 to 2015 and again since 2019.

“I was really lucky to find that working in nonprofits and for organizations where I truly believe in the mission enabled me to help others and make a difference,” Groys said.

As development director, Groys manages all of the fundraising activities, including special events, annual fund campaigns, grants management, donor relations and board engagement. She said what she is most proud of is the work that Milestones does for the community as a resource for families, autistic individuals and for their caregivers.

“I’m so proud every time I get to talk to a donor about the amazing work that Milestones does every day,” Groys said.

Right before Milestones, Groys worked at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, managing the One Happy Camper program and other grants administrative duties. There, she helped families navigate the financial aid and scholarship process for Jewish overnight camps and Israel programs, such as summer and college programs.

Groys is also a volunteer with Fostering Hope, where she also previously served as the first board president. There, she has helped with fundraising efforts, budget management, strategic planning and overall organizational efficiencies.

Groys said this organization is the brainchild of a close friend, Nicole Shefrin.

“I will never forget the moment she passionately told me about her amazing vision,” Groys said. “I was so excited to help in any way and began by assisting with grant writing.”

Groys said not only does she love sharing her knowledge and expertise with other non-profit organizations but she feels that it is her responsibility to give back in any way she can.

“Volunteering your time and expertise is just as valuable and important as donating funds,” Groys said. “I feel honored to be able to share my insight to help make a difference in other organizations.”

Groys is the granddaughter of four deceased Holocaust survivors: Henry and Marion Miller, and Mayer and Miriam Holtz. Groys said they inspire her every day of her life. She said she thinks about them and what they went through, and how they created “beautiful families and lives in America and in Israel.” She said for her, it is her responsibility, duty and honor to give back to her community. She also said her three children inspire her “every day to make the world a better place.”

Judaism has always been a big part of her life, culturally, nationally and traditionally, she said.

“I’ve grown up with the values of tikkun olam, giving back to the community, giving back to society,” Groys said. “Something about Judaism that I love is that we have respect and kindness for everyone. And so that has always lived inside of me and is how I try to live my own life, and what I want to instill in my children.”

Groys said the COVID-19 pandemic taught professionals such as herself about connection – both with the people you serve, and also the people who support your organization. She said they all found a way to connect with each other without being in person, whether it was picking up the phone, having a Zoom video chat, or sending a quick email to check in with one another.

“It was really important to make sure people were healthy, safe, and felt secure,” said Groys, who also cited Milestones Executive Director Ilana Hoffer Skoff and Milestones operations director Mia Buchwald Gelles as inspirations for her. “And keeping that connection was really what got us all through. Both professionally with the staff that I work with, and also with my family.”

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