News, People

Jewish Community Partners Strengthens Memphis Jewish Community with Promotions and New Hires

by Steven Holman-

Jewish Community Partners has recently on-boarded and promoted several professionals to further empower Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis. Melinda Lejman, Steven Holman, and Lorraine Wolf have joined in key positions, while Sheri Gadberry, Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, and Sarah VanderWalde have received much-deserved promotions.

Guided by its recently unveiled TomorrowStrong initiative, Jewish Community Partners announced several strategic hires and promotions that will further empower Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis to fulfil their respective missions. Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein of the Memphis Jewish Federation team and Sheri Gadberry and Sarah VanderWalde of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have been promoted, and the team has welcomed new professionals Steven Holman, Melinda Lejman, and Lorraine Wolf.

Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, with Federation for 12 years, has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Federation. In addition to her responsibilities managing or overseeing community planning, community relations, engagement programming, and Federation’s Israel and global Jewry agenda, she is now tasked with stepping up Federation’s efforts to combat antisemitism, overseeing Federation’s marketing and leadership engagement functions, and taking on governance responsibilities.

“I love going to work every day charged with the responsibility of strengthening that which I and my family hold dear: our Memphis Jewish community, our beloved Israel, and Jewish communities all over the world,” said Bluma. “I look forward to being able to do even more in my new, expanded role.”

Twenty-year Foundation veteran Sheri Gadberry stepped up into the role of Senior Philanthropic Officer of Jewish Community Partners and Executive Vice President of the Foundation. In these expanded roles, Sheri’s unique blend of passion and experience will guide organizational and governance meetings with board members, lay leaders, and committee members, while building relationships with the ever-increasing volume of philanthropists who partner with Foundation to shape their charitable giving plans. She will also continue to oversee the daily operations of the Foundation.

“Working with this community of donors for 20 years has been an incredible experience,” said Sheri. “Many have become close friends of mine, and I look forward to continuing our work together, connecting donors to the causes that motivate them to be philanthropic.”

Sarah VanderWalde is now shaping Jewish Memphis philanthropy as Director of Programs. She is tasked with running all of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis’ programming for B’nai Tzedek (teen philanthropy), the Professional Advisory Group, Life & Legacy, and donor advised fund holders. Sarah successfully ran the Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 2020 (which went virtual due to Covid-19) and is now focusing on the Strategic Plan for the future of the Foundation.

“I love the work that I do and actually started my career over 20 years ago in the non-profit sector at the University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel,” said Sarah. “I am excited to continue to support Jewish organizations in Memphis through my role at the Foundation and am happy to call Memphis my home for the last seven years.”

Steven Holman, a recent graduate from The University of Georgia and new arrival to the Memphis Jewish community, joined JCP as Communications Associate. His strong communication skills help him plan, write, and edit content for print publications, social media, blogs, and websites for JCP and its many associated brands. He also assists in maintaining backend digital systems and works with print, digital, and design vendors to keep JCP branding consistent and high-quality.

“I’m excited to be a part of this team. Every day I’m amazed at how involved and dedicated the staff is, as well as the charitable community of donors. I’ve learned so much about Jewish Memphis already,” said Steven. “I look forward to providing our readers with fresh, interesting content, and ensuring that our community knows about important events going on in our area.”

Lifelong Memphian Melinda Lejman joined Jewish Community Partners in the newly created role of Director of Outreach and Leadership Engagement. Her duties include leading Federation’s young adult FedLED initiative, and strengthening JCP’s capacity to develop leaders both within the organization and in the broader Jewish community. These complementary responsibilities will ensure a pipeline of Jewish leaders ready and able to nurture and sustain our community for decades to come.

“This is an amazing and exciting opportunity for me. I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Northeastern University with a concentration in Organizational Leadership Studies,” said Melinda. “This job provides a great means for me to apply what I am learning in school to further create a positive impact in the community that is so special to me. This will not be an abstract experience; it will actually be really hands on. I served as Project Manager for Federation’s 2018 Israel at 70 initiative, so I am not really new to JCP, but I’m thrilled to be here in a new, impactful role.”

Lorraine Wolf joined Jewish Community Partners as Manager of Community Impact and will oversee projects that support community planning, programming and engagement, community relations, and Israel and global Jewry initiatives. Prior to joining the JCP team, she was passionately involved in numerous local nonprofit organizations, and today continues to serve as president of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South as a volunteer.

“I’m honored and excited to be creating and planning meaningful programs while representing Jewish Community Partners within our community,” said Lorraine. “The Memphis Jewish community is very special to me, and I look forward to continue making a positive impact within this position.”

“These moves have been in development for a while, but it takes time to tap the right talent,” said Laura Linder, JCP’s President and CEO. “Bluma and Sheri have historically brought deep expertise and passion to their work, and it was time for their roles to catch up with their ability. Similarly, Sarah brought ideas and hard work to the JCP team when she joined several years ago, and it was clear she was ready for increased responsibilities. And Steven, Melinda, and Lorraine are stepping into vitally important positions with tremendous drive and aptitude, and are each the perfect fit for their work. The entire community will benefit from this period of growth at JCP.”  

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