Beginning a new year usually involves moments of reflection about the previous year and newfound determination to tackle the infinite To Do list buried somewhere under the papers on my desk. So the timing of the Sept. 29 debut of “Ladies First: Jewish Women Leading the Way,” a new informational networking and learning series by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, provided a nice kick of inspiration a few days before Rosh Hashanah.

The panel discussion, “Leading in Career & Community,” featured panelists Abbie Fink, vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations; Denise Resnik, CEO and founder of DRA Collective, co-founder of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) and CEO and founder of First Place AZ; and Julia Rosen, managing director of Global Launch at Arizona State University. Ilana Lowery, editor-in-chief of The Phoenix Business Journal, was the moderator.

Each of the panelists had a long list of accomplishments in their introduction, both professionally and as volunteers.

The personal journeys that brought them to where they are today differ: Denise Resnik helped co-found SARRC after her son Matthew was diagnosed with autism; Abbie Fink started advocating for change in sixth grade, when she picketed her elementary school after her graduation dance was cancelled (the sixth-graders ended up getting their dance); and Julia Rosen taught English in Argentina and had different work experiences along the way that led to her current position at ASU.

One message that was clear within all their stories is that they each followed their passion – their own individual passion, but also their passion for making an impact in their communities.   

Jewish News is thrilled that two of these women – Abbie Fink and Ilana Lowery – are part of the advisory team assembled to lead the newspaper into the future.

I’ve felt fortunate to spend the last 16 years combining two of my passions – writing and Judaism. And to be part of a community newspaper that has covered my hometown’s Jewish community since 1948 is icing on the cake. Somewhere in our archives is my permed bat mitzvah announcement and throughout the pages of the paper’s past 68 years there are stories of members of the community from different periods of my life – from growing up at Temple Emanuel of Tempe, from summers spent at Camp Pearlstein (now Camp Stein) and all the wonderful people I’ve met since returning to Arizona as an adult.

For the past few months, a major renovation has been in progress outside our office windows. Large trucks take up multiple spots in our parking lot, workers dig holes in the ground and employees navigate a path from the parking lot to the building among knocked-down trees and caution tape.

It seems symbolic of the work happening inside our office walls as well, as we’re going through a transition to a nonprofit under new ownership.

But despite the “dust” that occurs during a renovation, the passion remains to continue to pursue the paper’s mission of building community.

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