Name: Paul D. Underberg
Family: Married to Sharon (General Counsel of Kodak); children Daniel and Jillian
Occupation: General Counsel of Ultralife Corporation
Volunteer Efforts: SuperGoal men’s event, Planning and Allocations Committee (Federation)
What do you appreciate about being Jewish?
“While I didn’t grow up particularly observant or traditionally religious, we were unflinchingly identified and affiliated. My parents had both grown up in New York City and then lived in a small town in the Adirondacks; and I believe that experience heightened their awareness of the importance and comfort of building and being part of a Jewish community, wherever you live. The Jewish values of education, ethics, charitable giving, and social justice were encouraged; together with the emphasis on family, a welcoming home, resiliency, and continuity with the traditions, holidays, and life cycle events that have been part of our collective history for literally thousands of years. My sister Leslie and I learned those lessons well—and how to bake! I was born into a TBK family, and upon returning to Rochester after many years of living in other cities, my wife and I became a TBK family of our own. I also recognize the importance of my longstanding affiliation with Camp Seneca Lake, first as a camper, then a staff member, and now a member of its Advisory Council. The friendships, skills, sense of community and immersive Jewish experience (and humor) have unquestionably informed my lifelong identity. My wife and I hope to have created a home for our son and daughter where Judaism is just a given—it’s who you are, like the color of your eyes, and you should be neither superior nor defensive about it. Ideally, they’ll continue to embrace it as they build adult lives of their own.”
How do your Jewish values guide your life, personally and professionally?
“I’ve spent most of my career as a lawyer and on the management team of tech companies, with a heavy emphasis on international work. My personal and professional lives are guided by the same values; and candidly, I’m not sure that I can separate the Jewish values from the others. What I do know is that when you combine hard work with education, ethics, charitable giving, and social justice, you’ve taken a good path in responding to any challenge. We all face daunting challenges, whether it’s in the context of work, family, education, health or any other part of life – and time and time again, the best outcomes have proven to come from the best effort, and from making and counseling others to make the best-informed decisions possible.”
Why did you choose to become, and remain, involved in Federation?
“As a high school student, I participated in a summer-long trip to Israel, sponsored by Federation, that created an indelible understanding of the connection between that historic land thousands of miles away, and my own life in a snowy northern city. Today my efforts at Federation have been focused on three things. Firstly, providing leadership for the SuperGoal men’s event, where we harness some of that competitive energy of Super Bowl Sunday and provide ‘hands-on’ support to FoodLink, through two teams competing for a trophy. Secondly, the Planning and Allocations Committee. And finally, being a resource to Meredith, Amy, Judy and others on issues for which my professional or personal experience can add some value.”
Can you share something interesting about yourself?
“I’m incredibly moved by bagpipe music and want to learn to play one! Actually, that’s something my wife of three decades only learned about me fairly recently, as well. In one of those late-night conversations with friends visiting from out-of town, somehow that deep confession emerged; and for my next birthday, my wife surprised me with a practice chanter and gift certificate for bagpipe lessons. I know historically my family is Austrian, but maybe they made their way to Vienna from the family seat in Glasgow! Makes sense – I’d vote strudel over haggis any day.”