The Atlanta Jewish Federation’s Innovation Initiative was born of the enterprising spirit which runs through our Jewish community in an effort to encourage and nurture creative progress in our city and beyond.  We are a community idea accelerator created to offer guidance, connections, and resources for our city’s Jewish changemakers from start-ups to legacy organizations.

We Empower Changemakers

Courage

We stand up for our innovators and recognize the huge amounts of courage it takes to pursue their ideas and make a difference. Learning from failure is equally important as celebrating victories.

Connectivity

Our ecosystem of creators actively work together as we offer guidance and resources to bring their ideas to life. From mentorship to education, we connect and equip grantees for viability and success.

Progress

Impactful ideas take time, concentration, and adaptability. We provide the space and support necessary to empower our grantees to take measured steps in the right direction toward success.

About Federation Innovation

The Atlanta Jewish Federation’s Innovation Initiative was born of the enterprising spirit which runs through our Jewish community in an effort to encourage and nurture creative progress in our city and beyond.  We are a community idea accelerator created to offer guidance, connections, and resources for our city’s Jewish changemakers from start-ups to legacy organizations. Through mentorship, funding opportunities, and an ever-growing network of Atlantans committed to progress, we’re giving life to our community’s brightest ideas and propelling a movement of Jewish invention and creativity.

We exist to motivate and empower those with ambitious dreams and help turn them into realities with the potential for long-lasting community impact. We’re building a thriving ecosystem of dynamic thinkers and doers. 

Innovation is more than a buzzword; it’s a mindset of courage and progress deeply embedded in everything we do.

 

What is an Innovator?

What is an innovator? Many perceive the big idea of innovation as a one-in-a-million thinker producing new inventions which change the world. Da Vinci. Edison. Jobs.     

Yes, those innovators impacted the world in major ways. But, we believe the potential for innovation exists all over. It’s simply waiting to be recognized.

We see innovation in the willingness to ask “what if?”. In the ability to take a step back and gain a new perspective for greater efficiencies. In ideas that impact gradual change in the community, and others that change the world.

 

Mission

Our mission is to provide guidance, connection, and resources for Atlanta’s future-thinking Jewish community to bring their brightest ideas to fruition in the name of progress.

 

Vision

Our vision is to create a lasting impact in Atlanta’s Jewish community by fostering a culture of invention, creativity, and progress which ripples through our city and beyond.

Premier Professional Development Community: Wisdom Pairings

We are fired up by the talent and wisdom that already resides in our community, and we love what happens when generations come together to share their life experiences. Wisdom Pairings, our mentorship community, brings people together for meaningful conversations that can blossom into ongoing relationships. We know that when someone else understands your idea, and can help enable it, your spark can become a fire! And we’re proud that Wisdom Pairings has helped people take bold personal steps forward, broaden their skillsets and find new career paths.

Federation Innovation Grants

We are also grant makers, providing different levels of funding to help new ideas take flight.

Bloom Microgrants

Microgrants are intended to help you kickstart your idea, deepen your learning and understanding of your ecosystem, and benefit from all the tools and resources Federation Innovation has to offer. Grants range from $500-$2,000. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

APPLY NOW

Propel Grants

Investments in transformative, creative, and community-driven projects and technologies that reimagine Jewish life in Atlanta and catalyze positive change. Grants range from $10k-$50k. Applications open twice a year.

LEARN MORE

JumpSpark

JumpSpark is a Federation Innovation initiative that provides funding and support for new ideas to invest in Atlanta’s Jewish teen ecosystem.

Grants include: Spark R&D Grants, Teen Thriving Grants, Navigating Parenthood Grants

LEARN MORE & APPLY

Innovation Calendar

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Innovation Advisory Committee

Federation Innovation is shaped and steered by a fascinating and eclectic group of people who are all high-level thinkers, doers, and innovators themselves! We’re always looking for people who might want to share their time and talent with us.

Ally Berman

Trademark and Copyright Attorney

Ally Berman is a trademark and copyright attorney. She received her BBA from University of Michigan and her JD from Emory University. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Ally is an alumna of Moishe House Palo Alto, and she led Emory Law’s inaugural itrek trip in 2019. She serves on the Board of Trustees of University of Michigan’s Hillel and lives in Atlanta with her husband.

Richard Berman

Vice President for strategic Initiatives for Innovation Research at the University of South Florida

Richard is Associate Vice President for strategic Initiatives for Innovation Research at the University of South Florida, visiting social entrepreneurship professor in Muma College of Business, and a professor in the institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation. He loves teaching our community about framing their ideas around solving problems.

Jill Bernstein

Public accounting serving public and private companies

Jill Bernstein has over 11 years of public accounting experience serving public and private companies (Retail, non-profit, healthcare, aerospace and defense, and financial services), most recently focused on both the national retail practice and local non-profit space. She has B.S. from Georgetown University, Masters of Accounting from Vanderbilt University, and is a licensed CPA, Senior manager – Audit at Deloitte. She is a Georgetown club of Georgia board member and alumni interviewer for Georgetown.

Jon Effron

Real estate agent

I help people buy and sell homes. I am passionate about learning. Innovation fuels me because “that’s just the way we’ve always done it” depresses me.

Lance Einstein

Partner at MendenFreiman

Lance Einstein is a partner in MendenFreiman’s tax controversy, tax planning and compliance, and estate planning practice areas. He joined the firm in 2019 and has extensive experience representing clients that have controversies and compliance issues with the Internal Revenue Service and various state tax agencies. Lance assists clients with devising and implementing estate plans that accomplish their goals with minimal disruption and tax costs.

Josh Feingold

Entrepreneur in Technology/Healthcare and Real Estate

Josh is an Atlanta born entrepreneur with a focus in the Technology/Healthcare arena as well as the Real Estate space. Experience across the Jewish community, with an emphasis on helping new small Jewish initiatives thrive, fundraising, and non-profit operations.

Joey Hurd

Operations and Acquisitions at Zavala Capital Group

Joey works for Zavala Capital Group, a commercial real estate company investing in workforce, value-add apartment communities in the southeastern US. As a member of the Radow Family Foundation, Joey is active in many of the different initiatives involving the Jewish community both in and outside of Atlanta. Joey also serves on the board of directors at Wisconsin Badger Camp, a non-profit camp for developmentally disabled adults. When not working, Joey likes to spend time with his chocolate lab, Ryder, travel, and enjoy great wine. After a proofread from his wife, Joey also loves spending time with his wife, Lisa.

Adam Kazinec

Financial Advisor at Prudential

I serve on the Global Peoplehood committee in addition to the Innovation Fund committee. I’m passionate about change and improvement when needed and I want to continue to see our Jewish community grow and become stronger. Professionally, I have similar goals when I meet with clients and help them understand financial tools and strategies available to them. I’ve been a financial advisor for over 11 years and am passionate about helping Jewish families, professionals and business owners achieve their goals with minimal costs and confusion.

Michael Kogon

CMO/CTO at Pull-A-Part

Heads up the Allocations committee and is a very active community member, Wexner alum and leading the Maccabi games.

Jason Levine

Senior Manager of Commercial Account Sales at Informatica

Jason has worked in sales for over 10 years and is currently a Senior Manager of Commercial Account Sales at Informatica, the leader in Cloud Data Management. Jason has been active in the Atlanta Jewish community since he was a child and currently serves as a board member for the Weinstein Foundation. In his spare time, Jason loves to travel to new places, explore new restaurants around town, and spend time with friends and family.

Dana Neiger

Head of Organizational Development/Co-Founder at HIVE Talent Acquisition Firm LLC

Dana's recruiting experience covers a wide range of industries such as accounting and finance, construction, engineering, light industrial and warehousing, sales and marketing, with a specialty in legal recruiting. Dana is a graduate of the private women's college, Agnes Scott, located in Decatur, Georgia. She returns to campus multiple times a year to support their Summit program by volunteering for HR panels, LinkedIn seminars, interview preparation and other human resources related needs. Outside of work, Dana enjoys spending time outdoors at sporting and live music events with her loving husband Dustin, their son Deagan and dog, Gustav.

Mark Rothberg

Vice President, School Broadcast Program at PlayOn! Sports

I run sales & marketing for the digital media company PlayOn! Sports. I am passionate and an expert at driving Jori crazy. I think that Innovation fuels change and will help the Jewish community adapt to continue to serve the needs of the Jewish people.

Evan Shapiro

Senior Account Manager at PlayOn! Sports

I work with Mark Rothberg, so every day is an exercise in patience. I love solving puzzles, so I’m happiest whenever I get the chance to take a big complicated problem and break it down into digestible pieces to fix it. Innovation spurs progress, and it’s very exciting to see how even the smallest ideas (or new ways of looking at existing ideas) can disrupt the norm and create a ripple effect of positive change in a community.

Ryan Silberman

Principal at RefrigiWear

Ryan is currently a Principal at RefrigiWear, Inc. with over ten years of experience at the company. Prior to joining RefrigiWear, Ryan had experience as the Vice President of Operations at a cold storage operating company and real estate development firm. Ryan received his undergraduate degrees from the University of Denver and his EMBA through the executive program at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. Ryan lives in Sandy Springs with his wife and three children, Lucy (11), Milo (8), and Nora (7). Ryan’s thoughts on Jewish Innovation: “Innovation is what will allow the Jewish Community to thrive next year and ten years and twenty years from now. What we have been doing may or may not work tomorrow and we need to make sure we are attuned to this and be proactive where necessary.”

Michelle Simon

Independent Non-Profit Organization Management Professional

I volunteer, cook, read, and workout. I am passionate about my family, the disabilities community, and the continuity of our religion. As a former corporate/securities attorney, I love keeping up with the business world as an outsider. Innovation fuels me because I learn more than I share; I need to be a lifelong learner, so this fits right into my plan.

Alexis Cohen

Innovation and Strategy Catalyst at UPS

Alexis Cohen is a Catalyst on UPS’s Corporate Strategy and Innovation team. She leads business strategy for the establishment of an exciting visibility business in partnership with Google X. Before joining UPS, Alexis served as President & Executive Director of Culture Connect, a social enterprise that she grew and successfully led to and through acquisition. She supports philanthropic work through the UPS Foundation and the Culture Connect Donor Advised Fund through the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta.

Scott Howoritz

Senior Director at Lavista Associates, Inc.

Scott Howoritz is an experienced Senior Director with a demonstrated history of working in the real estate industry. Skilled in negotiation, team building, real estate economics, real estate transactions, and lease administration. Strong professional with a Bachelor's Degree focused in Business from Miami University, Ohio.

Craig Kunkes

Partner, Robbins Firm

Craig Kunkes is a partner at the Robbins Firm whose practice focuses on business litigation as well as matters relating to administrative and government law. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and his undergraduate degree from Tufts University. Craig lives in Brookhaven with his wife and two daughters.

Stan Sunshine

Chairman Stag-Parkway, Inc.

- Stan Sunshine is a native Atlantan who cares deeply about the Jewish Community and its future. I am also a student of organizational excellence and follow the Innovation initiative at Federation because it is necessary to change behaviors in order to avoid historical results.

Michael Sussman

President, Haven Insurance Group

Michael Sussman is the President of Haven Insurance Group. He is an expert negotiator and very good at finding middle ground in most situations. Michael loves entrepreneurship and really enjoys seeing ideas become a real business

Phil Ventimiglia

Chief Innovation Officer, Georgia State University

Phil Ventimiglia is Georgia State University’s first Chief Innovation Officer, helping to shape GSU’s exploration of new ideas for teaching, learning, and research through innovative uses of technology. He is passionate about new solutions that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. His expertise is building new products, solutions, businesses, and teams.

Think Tank Members

Federation Innovation Think Tanks support the core areas of our impact:

IGNITE members evaluate grant applications and interview changemakers to help us determine early-stage grant funding.
GROW members support personal skill building and community connections through direct mentorship.
CELEBRATE members elevate and amplify our team’s storytelling.

Vicki Abelson

Healthcare Business Leader

Vicki Abelson (Grow) has over 10 years experience as a business leader in Healthcare and recently pursued her coaching certification through IPEC. She is a passionate people leader who believes that with the right support, you can achieve your biggest goals. Vicki obtained her education from the University of Houston (B.S in Psychology) as well as from Loyola University (MBA and MSIMC). Vicki lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two kids, and pup.

Matthew Borenstein

Innovation Catalyst at Nationwide

Journalist turned innovator turned innovation coach, Matthew also enjoy running long distances. After living the dream of becoming a professional sports reporter, he realized corporate newspaper journalism is not a great place to be... so he went back to school and ended up in innovation by chance after realizing journalism skills were a perfect fit for human-centered Design Thinking. He worked in financial technology innovation at First Data for about five years, detoured back into sports as a product manager at Turner Sports/NBA.com, and now consults and coaches human-centered innovation teams at Nationwide Insurance as an Innovation Catalyst.

Ron Breakstone

President of Refrigiwear, Inc.

Ron Breakstone (Grow) is the current president of Refrigiwear, Inc. and is an experienced sales and marketing executive. His education includes a BA from Boston University (’75) and an MBA from Columbia University (’87). Ron also sits on the board of the Atlanta Ballet and is the development committee chair.

Katherine Crosby

MBA student at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

Katherine Crosby is a first-year MBA student at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. From 2017-2020, Katherine served as Community Programming Manager for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, where she led the organization's guest programming and community engagement initiatives. Previously, Katherine worked in New York at Creative Artists Agency, a top international talent agency, most recently as an Agent Trainee in the Alternative Television Department. She graduated from Harvard University in 2014 with a concentration in Psychology, a secondary field in Dramatic Arts, and a citation in Spanish before beginning her professional career. She lives in Smyrna with her husband and three rescue pets and is an active community volunteer.

Sheila Dalmat

Seasoned entrepreneur and business leadership coach

Sheila Dalmat (Ignite) is happily retired from a vibrant career of innovation, entrepreneurship and business leadership in promoting new, disruptive technology for research, science and economic development. She is passionate about inspiring confidence in emerging leaders.

Arielle Klebanoff

Regional Director at Jewish Kids Groups

Arielle Klebanoff is the regional director at Jewish Kids Groups, an innovative Jewish education model started in Atlanta and poised for national expansion. Arielle helped grow the organization from serving 12 kids in a garage in 2011 to hundreds of students across six Atlanta locations today. Arielle graduated from Georgia State University where she studied sociology and education, and earned her master’s degree in Creative and Innovative Education. Arielle grew up in Virginia Beach, but has lived in Atlanta since 2009. She is a big fan of Atlanta restaurants and the Beltline.

Keith Pepper

Digital Data | GM | Start-up Advisor | People

Keith Pepper (Grow) is a dynamic senior leader and community builder with global experience in general management, HR, sales & marketing, organizational development and communications with P&L responsibility at both start-ups and larger enterprises. Proven track record of leading teams and exceeding revenue targets.

Scott Steckel

Program Manager at Delta Air Lines

He has led transformations at Delta Air Lines, IBM and Grant Thornton by conducting initial issue assessments, creating vision and strategy through collaborative solution design and finally successful strategy implementation. He is current a Program Manager on Delta's IT Transformation team launching an office in India and delivering value-add projects with strategic IT vendors.

Carli Wiesenfeld

MBA student, Georgia Tech

Carli Wiesenfeld is currently a second-year MBA student at Georgia Tech, graduating in May 2021. She spent 6+ years working in the experiential marketing and sports sponsorship fields after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Technology Management. She recently interned at Church & Dwight Co. this summer as a Brand Management Intern working on Batiste.

Federation Innovation By The Numbers

$500k

INVESTED IN COMMUNITY INNOVATION GRANTS OVER 2 YEARS

300

PAIRS OF PEOPLE CURATED IN DEEP MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION

10

COMMUNITY IDEA GENERATION & COLLABORATION SESSIONS

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