By Ariel Pinsky

You can hear Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin while supporting the mission of the Jewish Educational Loan Fund on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Maggiano’s Buckhead off Peachtree Road. JELF

Event co-chair Joanne Birnbrey said Koonin, who has retained his position through the NBA team’s ownership change this summer, is a supporter of JELF who was chosen to speak at the event because he is a “dynamic and very interesting speaker — the quality of what you’re going to hear him say is going to be worth coming to the event.”

Atlanta-based JELF provides interest-free loans to Jewish students from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia for college and graduate school.

The fundraiser will start with a cocktail hour, to be followed by Koonin’s presentation. Student Rivka Jacobs, who received money from JELF to attend Georgia Tech, will share her experience with the agency, which she said makes a positive impact in the Jewish community.

“I plan on speaking about how JELF has helped me grow not only academically, but grow as a person as well through my experiences interning at a chemical plant and studying engineering abroad for a summer,” Jacobs said. “I also will be focusing on how their generosity has helped ease the stress on my family so they can rest assured I am getting the best educational experience possible.”

Birnbrey, who is co-chairing the event with husband Eddie and with Dawn and Eric Tresh, said the program will serve as an outreach event to attract more members.

JELF wants to grow contributions and membership, Birnbrey said, “so that we can allocate more and more money to students that need our help.”

Erin Tresh, a former teacher, said she is thrilled to be co-chairing the event. “I fully understand how important education is and try to support it at every age level.”

What: JELF fundraiser

Who: Hawks CEO Steve Koonin

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19

Where: Maggiano’s Buckhead, 3368 Peachtree Road

Tickets: $54 general admission, $36 age 40 and under until Aug. 13, then $60 and $45; www.jelf.org/stevekoonin or 770-396-3080