THREE QUESTIONS FOR: Terri Bonoff, CEO JF&CS
Q: What attracted you to move to Atlanta for this job?
Terri: As a third generation Minnesotan, the thought of my husband accepting a new position with Delta Airlines in Atlanta was both exciting and daunting— I loved my life in Minnesota including my very rewarding career as a Minnesota State Senator, and prior to that many years as a business executive— yet the adventure and the opportunity for him called to me and we jumped in.
I had an opportunity to take on a couple of projects once in Atlanta, working as part of Georgia Tech CEISMC to develop industry internships for the students of Purpose-Built Schools at Carver High School, being part of the ACP workforce development committee chaired by Delta CEO, Ed Bastian, and joining the Learn4Life initiative led by Ken Zeff. In those roles I learned a lot about Atlanta, met community leaders and was able to continue the work I loved from a different perch. That work became the catalyst to search for something bigger.
Learning of the opportunity at JF&CS is exactly what I had hoped for — leading a mission driven non-profit serving both the Jewish community and the broader community to lift up those in need in ways that are sustainable and long-lasting.
Q: What are your first impressions of JF&CS?
Terri: I am in awe of the high-quality breadth and depth of the work being done at JF&CS. The program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is best in class, with a focus on inclusion in the community. Our top-notch mental health clinical practice offers private pay, sliding scales and insurance options, and provides a beacon of hope to those in need. The Ben Massell Dental Clinic serving low-income residents from across the region with comprehensive high-quality dental care is inspiring and uses 150 volunteer dentists to do so.
The amount of care and support JF&CS offers through our Aviv Older Adult Services, and to our Holocaust Survivors, is so important to our families and our community. In addition, the collaborative partnership of JF&CS, Jewish Home Life, the MJCCA, and Federation to create AgeWell Atlanta, designed to enable older adults to age well through improved independence, quality of life, and social connection, lays the foundation for important future work whereby we can leverage the power of a united effort.
Q: What is your top priority as the new CEO?
Terri: We are a faith-based community social service agency. There is an associated mandate inherent in that – we approach our work spiritually. My priority is to strengthen and deepen the services we provide to the Jewish community while using our Jewish lens to serve those in the broader community. Identifying demand for transformational care on both fronts is my top priority, as well as making certain our work is financially sustainable. Caring begins at home and that means JF&CS must be a best place to work. Removing barriers for our staff to work at their highest potential is also a top priority- working with a Jewish lens means bringing a sense of family to all we do.