Welcome to our third Women of Impact profile! Each month we are getting to know a woman, nominated by you, who is making an impact in our community. For this month’s profile, Meredith Chandler spoke with Judy Rosenthal. Among her many volunteer activities, Judy is the volunteer program moderator and facilitator for Jewish Family Services’ Jewish Employment Transition Services (JETS) and founder of The Schmoozer's Job Network. She was nominated by Diane Lieberfarb, former President of Beth El Temple, who commends Judy and her husband, David, for being “roll up your sleeves volunteers” and says Judy is "truly a blessing." Both Judy and David have been contributing to Federation's Annual Campaign for more than 30 years.
What inspired you to get involved in our Jewish community?
I’m originally from West Hartford. I left to attend Columbia University, where I received my B.S. and M.S. in Nursing and Health Education while working as a critical care nurse in New York City. I also volunteered at soup kitchens and as a nurse for the New York City Marathon.
I returned to West Hartford when I became engaged to David. Over time, my career interests shifted to human resources, marketing, and public relations, but I eventually left the corporate world to become a private consultant. My mother-in-law, Hilda Rosenthal z"l, inspired me to become more involved with our Jewish community. She was very active with Federation (she served on the Board and held several other positions) and was a lifetime member of Hadassah.
What have you done to make a positive impact?
Greater Hartford is a very challenging and expensive area to live in, so there is a lot of work to do. I’m passionate about empowering others to create a strong community for all of us. I’m always happy to help, so I’ve been involved in all sorts of community work in order to actively engage folks to find their own voice and passion in an area that satisfies them. Our future leadership depends on community engagement.
On the Federation side, I’ve chaired the Business and Women’s Professional Group of Federation’s Women’s Division and served as Chairwoman of the Administrative Committee, Annual Campaign Chair, and board member. I’ve also co-chaired the planning and allocations process with Leigh Newman and co-chaired a “walk and runathon.” And I’ve been on more than one Federation mission to Israel – a fantastic and inspiring experience that I heartily recommend.
Elsewhere in our Jewish community, I’ve been actively involved at Beth El Temple for several years and will become its President next June. In addition to my JETS and Schmoozers work at Jewish Family Services, I’ve been involved in other JFS initiatives. For example, my husband and I started the event “Helping Our Hungry Community.” I also serve on the boards of Hebrew HealthCare, JFS, Beth El Temple and The Children’s Museum.
In our larger community, I’ve volunteered with organizations such as Achieve Hartford; United Way; the YWCA; the Saint Francis Foundation (when I worked at Saint Francis Hospital, several years ago); and The Connecticut Forum.
What is your greatest wish, and what is your proudest accomplishment?
In terms of wishes, I’ve been frustrated by programs that are not always inclusive of the community at large. I believe that everyone has a contribution to make; our community is richer when everyone is included and every voice is heard. We are getting there!
In terms of accomplishments, the thing I’m proudest of is JETS and the Schmoozer’s Job Network. In late 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession, I got a call from Jewish Family Services telling me that they were receiving numerous calls from families affected by the market crash and massive job layoffs. They asked me to join a small committee that was being formed to respond to the problem. JFS and Federation were working together with several synagogues on the issue, and the Mandell JCC offered space for a new networking group to meet. In 2009, JETS was born – with huge attendance! Today, the Schmoozer’s Job Network is the largest job search group in Connecticut and the only volunteer-based one that we know of in the U.S. We’ve helped thousands of local people find employment through our job search programs, free resume writing, interview prep, social media and coaching.
I’ve received several awards for my community work, including Federation’s Young Leadership Award and Federation’s Innovation Award for JETS; the Human Relations Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice; and the Family Champion Award from the Connecticut Council of Family Services. My work with JETS and Schmoozer’s is what I’m most proud of.
What role has Judaism played in your life?
Judaism is who I am: it’s my heritage. My grandmothers spoke Yiddish. I was raised to appreciate the Jewish values of respect, community, and spirituality – and the importance of looking inward. My family, friends and faith are central to my life.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with other women?
- Get to know the whole community – not just your piece of the community – so you can determine how to be the most helpful. Trends and issues are changing daily in our world, and it is important to familiarize yourself with knowledge and caring.
- Always take the first step; introduce yourself and invite folks to join your team. Always extend your hand to another.
- Stay positive, and know how to self-correct when it’s needed. (This is where introspection matters.)
- Whatever you do, make sure you are achieving results and having an impact.
If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be very impactful indeed.
To nominate a Jewish woman from Greater Hartford to be featured in a Women of Impact profile, contact Meredith Chandler, Associate Vice President of Development and Women's Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.727.6125.