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JCC Association of North America Welcomes Sue Gelsey as Chief Program Officer

Sara Koenig, West End Strategy Team
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Office: 212.498.9300; Cell: 917.420.0303

JCC Association of North America Welcomes Sue Gelsey as Chief Program Officer
Veteran of the JCC Movement will define newly created position to oversee signature programs

NEW YORK (April 23, 2019) – Today, JCC Association President and CEO Doron Krakow announced that Sue Gelsey, a veteran of the JCC Movement, has been hired as the continental organization’s first-ever chief program officer.

Gelsey will oversee  the growth and development of programs that fall into JCC Association’s signature portfolio, such as JCC Maccabi®, a an Olympic-style teen athletic competition and arts showcase; JResponse, which sends JCC professionals from around the country to provide support to JCCs in times of distress; JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, whose mission is to support the Jewish men and women who serve in the United States military since the organization’s founding in 1917. Gelsey is  leaving her position of chief operating officer at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, New Jersey and starting at JCC Association on June 10.

As a JCC professional, Gelsey brings more than two decades of experience at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades—where she developed programs and oversaw budgets and operations across a variety of departments to engage families with young children, teens and adults—helping to build it into one of the largest JCCs in North America.

“Sue Gelsey is one of the great rising stars of the JCC field, a tremendous acquisition and an extraordinary addition to an exceptional leadership team,” said Doron Krakow, president and CEO of JCC Association.

Gelsey is very much a product of and ambassador for the JCC Movement, having presented at the JCC Northeast Regional Conference for many years, and at the JCCs of North America Professional Conference in February. She was selected as a fellow for the inaugural cohort of the Mandel Institute for Nonprofit Leadership Executive Leadership Program, an initiative of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation that provides rising JCC and federation leaders an opportunity to envision communal futures and develop critical leadership skills.

Gelsey, who has degrees in both Judaic studies and psychology from Emory University and a master’s degree from Temple University in recreation management, has worked most of her career in Jewish organizations, working first as a regional youth director for the URJ in Philadelphia and  assistant camp director at Camp Harlam, a URJ overnight camp. Following those roles, she began work at the Kaplen JCC, beginning first as the youth services director, and then camp director, JCC Maccabi Games® director, and program director. Currently, as chief operating officer, she manages the day to day operations and planning for the future of a $22 million social service agency with more than 12,000 members and 200 full time staff, offering over 150 programs each day.

She left Jewish communal work for four years to support the creation and growth of a new community service division for MediFit/EXOS, an international fitness management company. There, she was able to continue supporting JCCs, along with hospitals and universities, by assisting them in improving their overall operations by focusing and supporting these major participation and budget feeders.

“I’m so inspired by Doron and the direction in which he’s taking JCC Association and his vision for the JCC Movement. This position allows me to use my experience to meaningfully impact the programming that reaches every JCC in our network,” said Gelsey. “I feel that for my whole career, each step has been building toward this opportunity.”


JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of JCCs each week, the JCC Movement represents the largest platform of Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association is the convening organization of this powerful network, partnering with JCCs and camps to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the JCC Movement—which represents 6,000 full-time skilled professionals and more than 32,000 part-time seasonal staff—and supporting them as we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America together. Learn more at, or on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


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