When other little girls were playing with dolls, Debra Javit was walking with her Dad through the shopping malls he developed in suburban Connecticut. “I always wanted to be like him and to be with him,” Debra said.

 So it came as no surprise that Debra built a career in commercial real estate, and when the opportunity presented itself, she became a philanthropist like her parents Max and Rachel Javit, and a second-generation Technion supporter.

The family story started in Brooklyn for Max and Israel for Rachel. “They came from nothing,” Debra said. Her Dad wanted to be a farmer. But he loves telling the story that when he revealed his plans to potential dates “they flew the coop.” Instead, he received his bachelor’s degree in economics at Michigan State University, followed by a master’s degree in psychiatric social work at Michigan State University. There, at a dance sponsored by Hillel, he met Rachel, who was living in Israel but visiting an aunt in the U.S.

They married and Max started his career in social work. Four children later, he switched to real estate to keep ahead of the bills. Then when Debra was 12, “Dad packed up the family and we moved to Israel for a year,” she said. “He wanted to experience kibbutz living.” Max continued to run his real estate business from Israel while also picking oranges on a kibbutz near the Lebanese border. Debra attended an American school. “We loved it,” she said. “Israel is such an amazing country, whether you’re Jewish or not.”

Back in the U.S., just prior to attending college, Debra was in a car accident and suffered a concussion. She attended Hartford College for Women to be close to her family, and the small school’s empowering environment was just what the doctor ordered. The professors were so patient that Debra overcame her aversion to math and went on to Simmons College, earning her bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in finance.

Her dad wanted her to stand on her own. “He didn’t want me just to finish college and go into his business.” So she went to work for other real estate companies leasing their shopping centers. She was often the only woman in the boardroom, but her father prepared her for those challenges. “He taught me how to walk in like a partner, like I belong there.”

A decade later her childhood dream of working with her father came true. After losing a big client, Max brought Debra into Max Javit Real Estate Development to help rebuild. “We had 20 years of ups and downs with all the crazy stuff that happens in real estate,” she said. Debra has described those years as “good cop-bad cop,” where she was Ed McMahon to her dad’s Johnny Carson. Her father retired at age 79, going out on a high note by selling his shopping centers just before the crash of 2008.

The business did very well, which Debra attributes in large part to his stint in social work. “I think my father’s success was his ability to talk to people,” she said. He could have been even more successful, she believes, but he chose to work with tenants when they were struggling financially, even forgiving loans when possible. “His generosity was first, and he showed me his value system.”

Max, who passed away in January 2019, was passionate about Israel, supporting three Israeli universities including the Technion. He and Rachel established the Max & Rachel Javit Research Fund in the Unmanned Ground & Marine System and another project to advance autonomous medical systems. They were Technion Guardians, an honor reserved for those whose contributions rise to the highest level.

With the proceeds from his business, Max gave Debra a two-fold task: start a new company and give back to those less fortunate.

Debra launched her first investment company more than a decade ago, and in January 2022 started Javy Enterprises, a new investment venture playing on her nickname. She has been supporting Hartford College for Women, now part of the University of Hartford, and in February 2022 included the Technion in her estate planning.

“I followed the Technion during the pandemic and found everything they were doing amazing,” she said. “So to honor my father,” better the world through medicine, and keep Israel safe, she said, Debra made endowments through her will. She will establish The Debbie Javit Javy Fund for Medical Research and The Debbie Javit Javy Fund for Security-Related Research, becoming a Technion Guardian in her own right.

“When I think about my legacy and how I want to give forward when I’m not here anymore, I think of Israel and the Technion,” she said. “It also deepens my connection with my father.”

Debra is living in Connecticut with her loving partner of 16 years. In addition to her business and philanthropy, she likes meditation, the arts, traveling, and connecting with friends. She is enjoying her involvement with the American Technion Society (ATS), as is her mother, who is residing in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Every story I read coming out of the Technion is heartfelt and incredible,” she said. “I am excited to include the Technion in my estate plans because the Technion helps the whole world.”