Our Woman of Impact profile features a local woman, nominated by a community member, who is making an impact in our community. For this issue, we spoke with Rona Gollob, a Federation Board member and philanthropist involved with the Israel and Overseas Committee. Rona also travels around the world with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Rona was nominated by Judy Schlossberg, our 2020 Women's Philanthropy Chair.
What inspired you to get involved in our Jewish community?
Growing up, I was president of my synagogue youth group. I was always involved in my synagogue and synagogue politics. In many ways, Jewish life was my life. After coming to Connecticut, I got involved in my synagogue. As I was moving up the ranks to become president of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield, I participated in the Federation’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI), which is now part of the Jewish Leadership Academy. That’s when I really learned what Federation and our Greater Hartford Jewish community were all about. It’s how I ultimately ended up getting so involved in Federation.
What have you done to make a positive impact?
I’m a donor, but I’m also a doer. I donate my time and enjoy feeling the impact. I’ve been a reading mentor with Children’s Reading Partners for 21 years. I am also involved with the YWCA. I’ve attended the graduations of YWCA’s Young Women’s Leadership Corps participants - some of whom I helped over the years as a reading mentor. Getting to witness the successes of those I’ve helped is really rewarding. Sometimes you can’t predict or even know the impact you will have on somebody. More recently, I’ve been making masks for the COVID-19 crisis. I was trying to figure out what I could do to help during this pandemic. I’ve made more than 100 so far and have given over 65 masks to charities and the rest to friends.
What was your biggest challenge?
While our family wasn’t financially well off, we were rich in other ways. Not having the financial advantages made me sometimes feel like a fraud/an interloper when I was interacting with others in the community. I can still suffer from “imposter syndrome” which I continue to work at overcoming.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Raising my kids is my proudest accomplishment. They’re such good, grounded, and giving people! My mother was an incredibly giving person and I see many of her positive traits in my children. Philanthropy is as important to them as it is to me.
What role has Judaism played in your life?
Judaism has played an integral part in my life. I always felt at home at the synagogue — and very much still do. I continue to be involved in synagogue life and now serve on the board of The Emanuel.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with other women?
You get so much more out of helping others than you put in. You can change people’s lives. Go with what feels right for you, what excites you, and what you’re passionate about. Then try to figure out how you can make a difference. It’s okay to pick what you’re most passionate about and devote more time, resources, and money to those things. When something speaks to you, try to act on it.