Kay Leaders Graduate with Inspiring Messages

May 01, 2023

Kay Leaders Graduate with Inspiring Messages

The Kay Family Leadership Series cohort concluded its 7-month series of sessions Thursday evening in a major fashion. The 15 new lay-leader graduates earned the opportunity to hear from an “all-star” cast of panelists to inspire their next steps. Terri Bonoff, CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS), was joined by Gary Miller, former JF&CS CEO from 1991-2015, and Milton Little Jr., President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. The discussion was expertly led by Stacy Fialkow, JF&CS Community and Partnership Outreach Officer and past Board Chair (2009-2011). The three speakers emphasized and punctuated the importance of “servant” leadership and the partnership with agency professionals to achieve greater accomplishments.

“Your board is your greatest asset,” said Gary. “There’s so much power with the potential of people … and you have to be strategic about how you go about gathering your leadership. You look at what you need in the next five years, and you start thinking about the talent pool that’s out there, and about how we develop leaders over time like the Kay Leadership Series here does.”

Milton eloquently added: “You need someone who looks at Terri and says ‘I’ve got all these assets, resources, and skills. How do I help this agency do the community’s work, and what’s my responsibility as a lay leader to make all of that happen.”

“My board is my secret weapon!” said Terri. “By myself, I would feel like I’m on this tiny island, but if you take the power of your lay leaders, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

Lauren Harris, Ph.D., JF&CS Leadership and Engagement Officer, with the support of board members and Co-Chairs Ann Kay and Ellen Feinsand, re-envisioned the program, formally Tools for Leaders, this year.

“The goal is to identify and develop the next generation of lay leaders for JF&CS,” said Lauren. “I’m so grateful that the Kay Family believe deeply in the value of lay leadership and building a pipeline for JF&CS. It is a full circle moment for me as well, as this is how I originally got involved with the agency in 2005.”

The cohort included a diverse group of professionals and community members. The series started in October and during the seven-monthly sessions, participants took a deep dive deep into JF&CS’ programs and services led by the agency’s Directors. Participants got a greater understanding of the successes, challenges, and opportunities at the agency. Participants also participated in leadership assessments and various direct service opportunities.

One of the most meaningful experiences for the cohort was an applied project in which smaller groups were tasked to identify ways in which the community could better support the agency’s Independent Living homes that are a part of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services. Participants worked in small teams in collaboration with agency professionals to identify engaging ways for the community to partner. Each group spent an afternoon with clients and staff in their respective homes getting to understand the distinct opportunities as well as lead an activity. Clients relished their time with volunteers engaging in such activities as a Hanukkah celebration, a wellness afternoon focused on movement and healthy eating, and a session gardening and lunch.

“Our goal for participants was for them to get to know both our clients and professionals on a personal level. By understanding their needs, challenges, and successes, develop them into effective ambassadors and advocates for the agency” remarked Lauren. “I am excited to take the information they gleaned from this applied project to build out additional volunteer engagement opportunities to serve our ILP homes.”

The graduating class included Jacob Clifton Albritton, Sandy Block, Heather Fishbein, Tracey Grant, Kim Kopelman, Shilvi Leinwand, Melana Kopman McClatchey, Alison Gregge Medintz, Bobby Nooromid, Dayna Royal, Amy Koonin Taylor, Phil Ventimiglia, Susan Wallis, Heather Weiner, Ph.D., and Meredith Yehudai.

"The Kay leadership program was an incredible opportunity to become better acquainted with the life-changing work JF&CS does in our community,” said Dayna. “It has left me grateful for this experience, appreciative of this organization, and dedicated to continuing my support and involvement in the future.”

If you would like to learn more about the Kay Family Leadership Series, or other leadership opportunities at JF&CS, contact Lauren Harris, Ph.D. Leadership and Engagement Officer, at 770.677.9332 or lharris@jfcsatl.org. If you would like more information about other volunteer opportunities, contact Megan Koziel at 770.677.9407, mkoziel@jfcsatl.org, or visit jfcsatl.org/volunteer.