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Trading Places

From Southbury to Greenwich, Federation exec transitions to new community

By Cindy Mindell

 

GREENWICH—Shelly Katz began her tenure as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut in December 2011. In March, she and the Federation Board reached a mutual decision that led to her departure, several months before her three-year contract was up.

“The board decided that the organization needed a change in executive leadership to improve fundraising and management in difficult economic times,” then-executive vice president Lisa Miller told the Ledger at the time. “We are in a period of evolution in how Jews relate to and interact with Jewish communal organizations, exploring ways to revitalize our campaign and volunteer engagement.” The Board would finish out its campaign year in June, Miller said, and then discuss leadership options.

Last month, Miller was elected Board president. She credits Katz with initiating the development of several popular programs and events in the community. “She brought enthusiasm and creativity to her work,” she says.

While heading the Federation in Southbury, Katz valued the opportunity to get to know fellow executive directors, especially in Fairfield County.

Shelly Katz

Shelly Katz

“I learned what was going on in other federations and to understand the different positions and places,” she says. “Because of the proximity, there was opportunity for all the directors to get together for a day meeting, so I got to know them and their staff,” she says. “When we worked together on the regional Israel @ 65 Celebration and were able to collect and donate money as a team to Bet Singer children’s village in Israel, I got to know all my colleagues and I think that’s very unique and special.”

In addition, through the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT), Katz learned about state politics and the work of the two Jewish Community Relations Councils in Connecticut.

After she left the Southbury position, Katz was approached by Pam Ehrenkranz, executive director of UJA Greenwich, who was looking for a development director. From a part-time position starting this month, Katz will transition to full-time in August.

“Shelly is a dynamic, creative, and innovative ‘connector,’ to borrow a term from Malcolm Gladwell,” says Ehrenkranz. “She understands the value of building relationships, education, and inspiration as the keys to building community. We are hoping that she will bring her vast knowledge and sharply honed skills to Greenwich, to help us expand our reach into the community and our support of Jews around the world.”

In addition to her role at Jewish Federation of Western CT, Katz is former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara (JFGSB) in California. Under her leadership, JFGSB was nationally recognized by United Jewish Communities (now Jewish Federations of North America) with the Sapir Award for Campaign Excellence for several consecutive years. Katz was also executive director of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation (N.C.) and founding director of the Nevada region office of the Anti-Defamation League in Las Vegas.

Before becoming a Jewish professional, Katz was involved in the Jewish community of Albany, N.Y., where she was awarded the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York Young Leadership award, and chaired the Woman’s Division and the Board of Jewish Education. She served as the first woman president of the Sidney Albert Albany JCC and was an officer on the boards of her synagogue and Jewish day school.

 

Comments? email cindym@jewishledger.com.

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