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JCC Association pursues change, as new vice president is brought on board

Image via Times of Israel*

Wendy Seligson, who helped steer the 14th Street Y of the Educational Alliance in New York, during a period of rapid expansion, has been hired as executive vice president for strategy and operations of JCC Association.

Seligson, who has served as associate executive director of the 14th Street Y since 2007, worked closely with Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff, when he was executive director there. Hazan Arnoff was appointed CEO and president of JCC Association earlier this year when Allan Finkelstein retired after leading the organization for more than two decades.

During Seligson’s tenure at the 14th Street Y, she managed the business operations, oversaw major capital projects, and expanded the Y’s membership and core programs.

“JCC Association is at an exciting time of inquiry, asking what member agencies most want and value from it and how best to deliver this,” said Seligson, who begins at the organization on June 22.

“I am eager to join Stephen Hazan Arnoff, who I greatly respect from our work together at the 14th Street Y, in collaborating with all stakeholders in order to find clear answers and implement the systems needed in response.”

Seligson hopes in the short term to explore what can be the best ways for JCC Association to provide strong, effective relationship management to JCCs. She hopes to do this by identifying immediate challenges and opportunities; bringing people into strong working teams to address these issues; and aligning the organization’s goals, plans and resources into an overall strategic response.

In the long term, she would like to “leverage the unique qualities of JCC Association” as a convener and leadership organization to raise the agency’s value to its stakeholders. She also wants to focus on substantially increasing awareness and understanding of JCC Association’s program, service and value among JCC member agencies, staff and boards of directors, as well as with staff and lay leaders throughout the Jewish communal field.

“Wendy is a strong leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, who understands the operations and opportunities of JCCs deeply,” said Hazan Arnoff. “She knows how to build and manage teams and believe in the vast opportunities of Jewish communal agencies to do a tremendous amount of good in the world.”

Seligson, who began her career as a real estate attorney, became interested in housing and community development issues. Over time, she turned her focus to the non-profit sector. She worked in a variety of agencies, and as a consultant, working on housing, employment and education issues, often with at-risk or vulnerable populations, before coming to work at the Y. Working there brought together many interests for her, and allowed her to explore her own Jewish identity.

“It was a chance to be part of a new community and to grow a deeper understanding of my own Judaism,” she said.

Her time at the 14th Street Y was one of explosive growth; revenues doubled to $9 million, and included completing a large renovation on time and on budget; revamping the organization’s communications; and transforming its membership-fitness program.

Prior to working at the 14th Street Y, Seligson was vice president at Fortune Society, an organization supporting former prisoners in successfully reentering society.

She was a co-founder of Community Assets Consultants, which consulted with non-profit housing providers. She began her career at the law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel, handling large, commercial real estate transactions, after having earned her law degree from New York University and her bachelor’s degree from Duke University.

Seligson lives in Riverdale, N.Y. with her husband, Ian Blant; they have two sons.

*Learn more about one of the many 14th Street Y programs Wendy Seligson has been involved with here.

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