Dov Wilker to lead metro American Jewish Committee

By Maria Saporta
Friday, October 14, 2011

The Atlanta Regional Office of the American Jewish Committee has named Dov Wilker to be its new director beginning on Nov. 14.

He will succeed Sheri Labovitz, who has been serving as the interim director of the office and who served on the search committee and was a former president of the organization.

“Dov is really a magical choice for us,” Labovitz said. “He was our assistant director during my term as president, so I have been the direct beneficiary of his dedication, energy and intellect.”

Wilker was assistant director of the office from 2007 to 2009, when he moved to Israel, where he received an MBA from Tel Aviv University and worked for an Israeli company — Kampyle Ltd.

Wilker also worked for the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta from 2005 to 2007.
“This opportunity was just too big to pass up,” Wilker said in a phone conversation from Israel. “I’m very excited to be able to come back and apply my life lessons from Israel and Atlanta to help the organization grow.”

Lenny Silverstein, president of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta and chief operating officer for Corporate Holdings, said Wilker was selected from an “outstanding pool” of candidates.

“In addition to his proven track with the AJC, Dov will bring fresh energy and innovative business-oriented ideas to his passion for our organization.”

The Atlanta office of the American Jewish Committee was founded in 1944 to help build bridges of understanding between the Jewish community and other ethnic and faith communities in metro Atlanta and the Southeast.

The organization founded the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in 2000. The organization also is known for other successful initiatives, including the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition and ACCESS, the young adult division of the American Jewish Committee.

Wilker, who is originally from New Jersey, said he is looking forward to returning to Atlanta and the American Jewish Committee.

“Over the years, it has had such an amazing impact on the city,” Wilker said. “I really hope to continue the growth of the organization and expand the activism of young professionals in Atlanta.”

Wilker, who is 29 years old, said that “my experience overshadows my age.”
Labovitz echoed those sentiments, saying Wilker had gained insights “from living and working in Israel.” Combine that with his MBA degree and management background, and Wilker has “the ingredients of a successful director.”

ecoBenefête honors Blank

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Blank family was honored with the “Distinguished Conservationist” award at the Georgia Conservancy’s 18th annual “ecoBenefête” gala held on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Foundry at Puritan Mill.

The honor is the most prestigious award that the Georgia Conservancy gives annually, and it is awarded to Georgians who are dedicated to the conservation and protection of the environment.

“Through their foundation, Arthur and Stephanie have chosen to give back to our community, to our state and to our world,” said Pierre Howard, president of the Georgia Conservancy and a former lieutenant governor.

The Blanks, either through the foundation or through personal gifts, have donated more than $250 million to nonprofits and communities nationwide (with a focus in metro Atlanta), including $50 million to environmental causes.

The Blank Foundation was the first donor to the Atlanta Beltline, funding a feasibility study that became the catalyst for the urban redevelopment project.
The foundation also has supported the Georgia Conservancy’s “Blueprints for Successful Communities” program, which seeks to make communities across the state more livable and sustainable.

In a statement, Arthur Blank said, “My family’s passion for the environment is best stated by a Kenyan proverb inscribed on the wall of our family office: ‘Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents; it is lent to you by your children.’ We are humbled by this honor from the Georgia Conservancy.”

The ecoBenefête gala is expected to raise between $200,000 and $225,000 for the Georgia Conservancy. Previous award winners have included Cody Laird in 2010; Jim Cox Kennedy in 2008; and Ray Weeks in 2006.

PATH celebrates 20

The PATH Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary at a cocktail reception on Oct. 19 at the Mason Murer Gallery.

Since 1991, PATH has developed more than 160 miles of multipurpose trails throughout Georgia. The trails have become popular destinations for walkers, runners, cyclists and skaters along greenways throughout the metro area.

PATH, which operates with a skeletal staff, spends more than 90 percent of its donations on building and developing trails. Currently, it is helping in the development of a trail along the northeast corridor of the Atlanta Beltline between Piedmont Park and Edgewood Avenue.

Other projects it has developed include the Silver Comet, Stone Mountain, Lionel Hampton, Westside, Arabia Mountain, Chastain Park and Freedom Park trails.

Visiting Nurse boosts board

Visiting Nurse Health System Inc., a $54 million nonprofit provider of health care at home, has named three new directors to its board.

They include Sue Lienhard, a leader in strategic planning and project management experience who formerly had an executive role at Toyota; David Martin, founder, president and CEO of Vein Innovations, who received an associate nursing degree from DeKalb Community College; and Alfreda Mayes, a 30-year retail executive with Macy’s Department Stores.

Visiting Nurse was founded in 1948, and it serves about 22,000 patients and their families each year in metro Atlanta.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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