From the Professional Team

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn: A Time of Change at the Jim Joseph Foundation

– by Chip Edelsberg

April 14th, 2015

I hope you enjoyed a meaningful Pesach with family and friends. In this month’s blog, I want to share with you several significant personnel changes at the Foundation.

Sandy Edwards, the Foundation’s Associate Director since 2006, will step down in June of this year. After I was named Executive Director, Sandy was the first person I brought on board as I built the Foundation’s professional team. If you have had the privilege to work with Sandy, you are well aware of her life-long commitment to Jewish education; her understanding of multiple ways to assess Jewish learning; and her strong desire to share best practices. Many of the Foundation’s standard operating procedures regarding its evaluation program and model documentation were conceptualized and implemented by Sandy. Thankfully, she plans to remain involved in Jewish education and philanthropy through consulting and volunteering efforts.

The Foundation also is excited to announce some new promotions and hires.

Dawne Bear Novicoff, who has been with the Foundation since 2009, is now the Foundation’s Assistant Director. Dawne is a talented, experienced, and spirited individual who is extremely well-suited for this new role. She manages an impressive portfolio of grants, including the Foundation’s six-year Education Initiative (with $45 million total funding for HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU), along with grants in critical areas such as Israel education and Jewish service learning. Dawne will assume expanded managerial and leadership responsibilities as Assistant Director—something that I believe will be a benefit to Foundation colleagues, grantees, and co-funders alike.

Just a few months ago, the Foundation welcomed Jeff Tiell as a new Program Associate. Jeff has the distinction of being the Foundation’s first-ever Program Associate. This position was created to offer a professional new to the field the opportunity to learn about Jewish education grantmaking. Jeff works closely with his direct supervisor, Senior Program Officer Josh Miller, and continues his onboarding process with colleagues and in interactions with grantees. I encourage you to read Jeff’s recent blog about his past experience and transition to the Foundation.

This week, the Foundation also welcomes Aaron Saxe to the team as Program Officer. Aaron has spent the last two and a half years as a Philanthropic Advisor at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Some already know Aaron from his past professional and volunteer work. He is deeply committed to Jewish education and philanthropy—his family has a long legacy of giving back—and the Foundation is fortunate to have him as a member of the professional team.

I also want to share news regarding the Foundation’s Grants Management and Administration (GMA) staff. David Agam, who has been with the Foundation nearly two years, is moving on this week to become the Executive Assistant/Development Coordinator at Congregation Sherith Israel. We wish David well. It is heartwarming to see a bright, dedicated young individual grow in his skills and knowledge at the Foundation and further pursue his commitment to Jewish education.

The Foundation also welcomed two new members of the GMA team recently: Nicole Levy and Rachel Halevi. We are grateful to have them on board.

Finally, some of you saw the announcement earlier this month that I will step down as Executive Director in 2016. As I noted then, serving in this position has been the professional opportunity of a career. Coming to work every day with talented individuals who care deeply about Jewish education is a blessing. I look forward to a rigorous schedule over the next twenty months assisting the Foundation in myriad ways to hopefully advance several major Jewish educational initiatives.

Looking ahead, in just a few months the Foundation Board of Directors and professional team will hold a special June Board meeting in Israel. This is a unique opportunity for the Foundation to mark its ten-year anniversary. We look forward to various briefings in Israel, interactions with individuals who benefit from Foundation-funded Israel experiences, and a visit to the grave of Jim Joseph, z”l, to honor Jim’s memory. As part of the ten-year anniversary, in early fall the Foundation will release an online-only retrospective timeline, showcasing many grantee accomplishments and sharing a wealth of lessons learned with the field.

This is an important time of personnel change and growth for the Foundation. Our mission remains the same: to help foster compelling and effective Jewish learning experiences for youth and young adults. It is a great responsibility—one we will continue to steadfastly pursue in close partnership with an array of passionate partners.