Naomi Adler is named as first female CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

February 3, 2014

For the first time in its 112-year history, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia selected a woman to lead the community’s central fundraising body, choosing Naomi Adler as their new CEO.

The wife of a Reform rabbi, Adler left her law practice to pursue a 13-year career in nonprofit fundraising and management, primarily with the United Way. Since 2008, she has served as president and CEO of United Way in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York.

“I am extremely excited to partner with our leadership to set a vision for the future as this work is essential to so many in the community,” she said.

In her work with her New York communities, Adler refocused United Way’s mission on three areas where its funds could have the greatest impact: education, career training, and health. “You have to know how and where you’re leading people,” said Adler. “We went back to our stakeholders and partners and asked, ‘Why are we relevant?’”

 “She created the transformation team,” said Susan Schefflein, senior vice president of community impact. “She needed to get the board members on board; she needed to get the volunteers on board. It was a matter of communicating the value of it, the benefit of it, why this was strategic, why it’d be good for the community. People can be resistant,” but, Schefflein said, “People on the staff got very excited.” 

The results of Adler’s changes were even more exciting to the community as the programs developed.

In education, the Thrive by Five Initiative reached 1,057 young children, funding training for parents so they could teach their children basic language, literary, social, and emotional skills before they started school. Teach Me to Fish…Work Skills for Life enrolled 800 people into career-training programs. And UWWP is now funding seven agencies to fight childhood obesity in more than 2,000 of Westchester’s children.

“You have to take risks with vision in mind,” Adler said.

Watch an interview with Naomi Adler on Insights with Kim Izzarelli.

Sources: “Philadelphia Jewish Federation Names First Female CEO,” Jewish Exponent; “Naomi Adler,” Westchester Magazine; “Naomi Adler Picked to Lead Philadelphia Jewish Federation,” Forward.


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Naomi Adler.

Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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