In the few short weeks Terri Bonoff has officially been the CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services, she is already fine-tuning her vision and setting down a new path for the agency that was established in 1891.
“I find myself more committed to deepening our relationship with the Jewish community and strengthening our partnerships with our sister organizations,” she told the AJT, referring to other agencies like the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the Marcus JCC and the William Breman Jewish Home. “It’s important to understand what we each provide.”
Her message of inclusion is reflected in the marketing pitch for her agency’s annual campaign launched in July. “There’s so much more we can do with you,” she stated. “The need is greater in every program area. The demand is greater than we are able to fulfill. We also want to tell our story to more people. We want a broader audience supporting our work.”
Bonoff is a former business executive and elected official from Minnesota, serving as a Minnesota state senator from 2005 to 2016. Since her husband joined Delta Air Lines a little more than three years ago, she’s been “observing the community,” she said.
Since her appointment was announced at the end of April and before her job officially started June 3, the new CEO was busy meeting with Atlanta rabbis and lay leaders. Obviously, she was also observing JF&CS. Immediately she set in motion several personnel changes. She altered the title of the former acting CEO, Faye Dresner, to chief impact officer, and has the Director of Human Resources, Lisa Bronstein, reporting directly to her. She’s hired an executive assistant and asked JF&CS past president Stacy Fialkow, who had been doing contract work for the agency, to head the major gifts and legacy office.
Even before Fialkow started her new part-time job July 1, she had already met a goal of signing up 25 new legacy donors. “I was so in awe of her ability to connect with people,” Bonoff said.
Bonoff noted that the agency also plans to hire a director of information technology. “Before, we outsourced our technical work, but we want to have a person on staff” to strategically handle JF&CS’ technology, she said.
Bonoff told the AJT that what has most surprised her in her new job is the “depth and breadth of our offerings. I knew we do tons of programming, but I’ve been moved to tears when I hear those who we’ve touched.” She referred to one 32-year-old client who had recently been placed in an independent residence. “This is the first time he’s lived independently. For 10 years, he’s been begging to live independently.”
Another surprise is the “strong, varied opinions” among JF&CS donors.
But she noted that she’s already enjoying her new role. “I love it,” she enthused. “I feel so fortunate to be in an organization with people who are so talented. This is the ‘A’ team. They are really doing impactful work.”