Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Naomi Adler has resigned, effective Feb. 1.
Adler has served in the position since 2014 and was one of the first women to head the Jewish Federation of a large city in the United States.
“It has been a privilege and a great honor to serve our Jewish Federation,” Adler wrote in a statement. “I take great pride in the successes we have accomplished as well as the very positive relationships I have cultivated with local, national and international stakeholders, donors, Jewish communal agency professionals, and volunteers. … I have truly enjoyed working with you and look forward to learning about your continued success to help our communities here, in Israel and around the world.”
Adler is credited with elevating the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s status on a national and international level. She worked to strengthen its relationship with organization’s like the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee. She worked with the Secure Community Network to improve security and was a spokesperson on behalf of the Jewish community in the fight against anti-Semitism along with advocating for public funding and special needs populations. She also initiated a comprehensive population study on the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s five-county region.
“The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, under Naomi’s leadership, has really strengthened and raised the profile of our role with the Israel community. And it’s been a terrific thing,” said Susanna Lachs Adler, the organization’s board chair. “I chaired the search for Naomi when we hired her six years ago, and she was an outstanding candidate and we welcomed her into the community. … We wish Naomi well in her career. Change creates opportunity for all of us, for Naomi, for our organization, and it’s a time for great opportunity in Jewish philanthropy and Jewish life.”
A search committee will begin the process of selecting Adler’s replacement. In the meantime, Chief Development Officer Melissa Greenberg was promoted to executive vice president and Chief Marketing Officer Steven Rosenberg was promoted to chief operating officer.
Rosenberg said the Jewish Federation staff will work to ensure a smooth transition after Adler’s departure.
“Her unbelievable commitment to the Jewish community is very unique. I owe her a debt of gratitude because she hired me. She gave me my start as a Jewish professional,” Rosenberg said. “The staff was inspired by the work that she did and worked hard because of who she was.”
Adler grew up in Rochester, New York. She is the granddaughter of Antwerp, Belgium-born cantor Hugo Chaim Adler and daughter of Samuel Adler, a renowned composer and conductor whose family fled Nazi Germany. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. at the University at Buffalo School of Law.
Prior to succeeding Ira Schwartz at Jewish Federation, she was the president and CEO at United Way of Westchester and Putnam for six years, and before that held the same role for seven years at United Way of Rockland County.
Joan Stern, who serves as a Jewish Federation trustee, among other positions, said Adler is recognized for the quality of her involvement in the organization’s projects in Israel, particularly with improving and engaging sister communities Sdot Negev and Netivot in the Negev partnership region.
“Change is always hard for us to accommodate when we find someone who is so likable and so engaged and interested in the projects that we are focused on,” Stern said. “No one ever leaves the Jewish world. So I hope to encounter her in other positions in the future. She will be missed.”
Arlene Fickler, chair of the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, also praised Adler for her dedication, support and passion for their mutual concerns.
“I was pleased to have Naomi as the CEO because she had an appreciation for the importance of community relations work and building relationships, both with our government officials and other leaders of communities of faith and leaders of other ethnic groups,” Fickler said. “As a longtime volunteer at (Jewish) Federation, I was pleased to see Naomi’s recognition of the importance of the role of volunteers. She always had excellent relationships with (Jewish) Federation’s volunteers and she understood the important role of volunteers, both in fundraising and friend raising.”
Rabbi Eric Yanoff, co- president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, described Adler as a connector.
“Naomi, on an institutional and organizational level, has reached out and brought institutions and organizations together to see ourselves as part of a greater whole of the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community,” Yanoff said. “We have a foundation on which to grow, and for that I am both thankful for her and hopeful for the future.”
Wishfully, with all the political polarization currently enveloping America, especially among our own Jewish brethren, the new JFGP CEO might launch a dialogue between local Jews of “all political stripes”, in an attempt to bring us a lot closer together.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Mrs. Alder’s replacement was chosen from within the more than capable ranks of her current colleagues at 21st & Arch. Promote from within, is the best way for the Federation to proceed; with its new leader knowing every inch and true needs of our LOCAL vast Jewish Philadelphia region!