Celebrating Our Female Leaders
Today is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote nationally on August 18, 1920, and it was signed into law on August 26 of that year. Three years ago, I was appointed President & CEO of JCC Chicago and became the first female to hold the position in the then 115-year history of the agency. There were fair amount of headlines about me being the first woman in the seat, and some noted that the focus should be more so on my qualifications than my gender. Three years in, with a now majority female leadership team and a number of essential roles held by women, it is the reflection of the team that reminds us all how essential it is to recognize and celebrate female leadership.
“As a young woman, I was passionate about building a career around Jewish community building, inspiring Jewish connection and serving the community in a meaningful way. But as a child born in the mid-50s…there were very few women in leadership roles to whom a young woman could look to as a role model. Addie has inspired me to find my voice, lead with authority and still manage strategic relationships with the sensitivity and balance that is required when different perspectives present a threat.”
– Ilene Uhlmann, Director of Community Engagement
“JCC Chicago advances female equality by offering numerous high-quality childcare options, which empowers women to find meaningful and impactful work outside of the home. Working at JCC Chicago was a natural fit in my career path because it provided me the opportunity to grow as a leader, with guidance from one of the top professionals in the field, who just happens to be a woman I admire.”
– Megan Roth Abraham, Chief Advancement Officer
“As a female leader for JCC Chicago, my knowledge and expertise of being in education for 23 years allows me to bring excellent interpersonal skills, different perspectives, and innovative ideas to the table. With these skills, I am afforded the opportunity to create new ideas that lead to better decision-making for the business. Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with phenomenal women who have helped shape and mold me into the leader I am today. Finally, having a female CEO in leadership at JCC inspires me in knowing that the possibilities of advancement are possible.”
– Emika Canty, Director of J at School
“My mother works in a male-dominated industry and came to the United States to pursue her passion and love of science. Seeing her achievements has inspired me to continue to push myself to grow and learn. I hope that my daughter is able to see how her Abuela (my mother) and I have never given up and always forged ahead and will do the same when she is older.”
– Anita Denes-Meador, Chief Program Officer
“Every day when I wake up, I am modeling for my sons and daughter that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to do, and in turn, I am also communicating to them that they can release any fears holding them back. Having a female leader who brings a sense of knowledge, calmness, and composure to her decision-making style helps discredit gender stereotypes and allows our organization to move closer toward gender equity.”
– Rachel Schwartz, Director of Social Services
“When I was considering a position at the J, I wanted to voice my opinion, concerns and ideas without fear of being seen as ‘pushy’ or ‘aggressive,’ I wanted to be valued and recognized as an expert in my field, I wanted my being an LGBTQ woman to be supported and embraced and to ensure others feel that as well. Being a female leader with all of my boxes checked makes me incredibly motivated to come to work each day, knowing I can give 110%. I am very proud to work at the J.”
– Johanna Fine, Chief Human Resources Officer
When I was interviewing for my position, I was asked if I was open to mentorship. Since assuming the role of President & CEO for the largest JCC in North America, I have completed the Leading Edge CEO OnBoarding Program, joined the Grinspoon Foundation’s Gift Leadership Institute, and became a founding member of Chief Chicago. I have studied leadership in various forms and have sought counsel from across the Jewish communal sector and beyond. I have had courageous conversations and made even more courageous decisions. I have addressed resistance and embraced support. I have learned a lot.
While I pride myself on being an authentic leader who is as much part of the team as leading the team, that I can demonstrate the possibilities of leadership for my teams, the agency and our broader community is perhaps my greatest point of pride. While women are not yet equal, we are making great strides and realizing essential community impact every day.
– Addie Goodman