New leader appointed for Jewish Western CT

By Cindy Mindell

SOUTHBURY – This week, Rochelle (Shelly) Katz began her tenure as executive director of The Federation, Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut, Inc. in Southbury.  She replaces Robert Zwang, who left the position in June after a 20-year tenure.
Katz comes to Connecticut after having served for two years as executive director of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation in North Carolina, a position she took after heading California’s Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara for more than a decade.

Shelly Katz

Katz began her professional career in speech pathology and audiology, and held many volunteer positions in the Albany Jewish community. As a lay leader in Albany, she served as president of the Jewish Federation’s women’s division and on the board of the Anti-Defamation League, and was a volunteer for Beit Shraga Hebrew Academy and Congregation Ohav Shalom. She was the first woman elected president of the Albany Jewish Community Center. “Through my volunteer efforts, I learned that building Jewish community and maintaining a connection to Israel is my passion,” she says.
Katz became a fulltime Jewish professional when she moved from Albany to Las Vegas as founding executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada, later establishing the first Anti-Defamation League office in Las Vegas. She was then recruited to head the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.
Katz’s many professional accomplishments include three consecutive annual Sapir Awards, the Jewish Federation of North America commendation for new gift development and community outreach.
“Among a talented group of candidates, Shelly stood out for her warmth, history of innovative program development, and extensive experience as a Federation executive,” says David Hill, vice president of the Western Connecticut Federation and chair of the search committee.
“Our entire board is excited to have Shelly as a part of our Federation team,” says Bob Tendler, president of the Western Connecticut federation. “Our community welcomes her experience and delightful personality.”
“The people I met were warm, open, and committed to the Federation, sharing my own dedication, including a connection with Israel and service to our local community-members,” Katz says of her interview process in Southbury. “The Walzer Family Jewish Community Campus is beautiful and I am looking forward to partnering with our synagogues, Jewish organizations, and schools.”
“As executive director, I want the Federation to continue to be a resource to those already involved, but also to open the door wider and reach out to all community members,” Katz says. “I want to help the residents of western Connecticut learn about the amazing programs and services we are offering, and I am also excited to learn the visions and needs of others that will enrich our community.”

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