Our new CEO, Dr. Alison Trachtman Hill, kicks off her tenure here at the JCC Denver on Tuesday September 6th. But who exactly is she? Why did the board, senior leadership, and executive search team choose her? We wanted to investigate for ourselves.
Our team (your trusty marketing department, hi!) reached out to her people (fine, we sent an email…). And as luck would have it, we managed to snag an exclusive sit-down with her to learn a little more about our new CEO.
Check out our interview with Ali (as she likes to be called) below.
Why did you first get involved with nonprofits?
As an undergraduate at Tufts University (go Jumbos!), I was really involved with Hillel. When I graduated, one of the staff members introduced me to an organization called the Jewish Women’s Archive. At the time, JWA was a relatively new startup non-profit with about 4 employees. I was hired as the Development Associate, which was 20% or so of the entire workforce (laughs).
This gave me access and opportunity to learn about the organization as a whole, while also learning how to be a fundraiser. After a few years there, understanding the challenges and opportunities that exist in nonprofit organizations, I knew that this sector would be a big part of my future career.
From JWA I enrolled in the MPA program at Columbia University, and gained even more knowledge about the sector. [Editor’s note: Ali has a concentration in nonprofit business management #nbd]
I’ve been involved with nonprofits ever since, whether as a staff member, consultant, and/or lay leader…I love being part of mission-driven organizations that have, as their main reason for existing, the privilege of serving people in our communities.
We noticed your LinkedIn Profile says you have a PhD in Sociology. What does Sociology have to do with anything?
Sociology is life! Kidding, but not really. Sociology is the study of human society. It helps us understand and make sense of our lived experiences. It gives us detailed explanations about the world we live in, how change happens, and how individuals interact with different aspects of their environments to create the stories of their lives.
Most importantly for my work here at the JCC, it provides a framework for how to think about community – what builds it up, what destroys it, and everything in between.
Tell us about your work with the Girl Scouts.
When people think about the Girl Scouts, they usually go with the 3 C’s – cookies, camping and crafts. Well, my work at the national headquarters didn’t fit into any of those buckets.
I was the manager of the P.A.V.E the Way program (Project Anti-Violence Education). Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, this initiative contributed to girls’ healthy development in the areas of bullying prevention and intervention, crime prevention, gang prevention, and Internet safety. My work took me all over the country, visiting Girl Scout councils that I’d awarded grant funding.
I got to meet incredibly talented, dedicated professionals and volunteers, and awesome girls and young women who were having fun and working to make this world a better place. In fact, my experiences during this time were so meaningful, I went back to school to earn a PhD in Sociology while still working full-time in order to better understand the dynamics and realities of growing up female in our country.
What’s your vision for the JCC Denver?
How much time do you have (laughs)? Seriously though, my vision for the JCC is to help create a space where everyone feels welcome. An environment that reflects the needs of our community members, and provides for the health, education, and well-being of all those who walk through our doors.
I want to foster a culture of togetherness that supports our members at every stage of their lives, and does so in a way that reflects Jewish values. As Denver continues to grow and change, I want the JCC to be that third space – not work or home – where “everybody knows your name” (cue Cheers music – NORM!). There is nothing better than the feeling of belonging, and we at the JCC have the honor of helping people feel that way every single day.
Our new CEO has a ton of energy, a strong vision, and cares deeply about the mission of the JCC. In addition to being our new CEO, Ali’s also a community member. Her kids attend camps and programs here, she lives down the street, and she understands how important the role of the JCC is in the lives of the greater Denver and Jewish communities.
A large part of the role of a CEO is to lead and to communicate. From our time with Ali, it’s clear she’s a natural at both.
Ali, we look forward to your tenure here. Welcome to the JCC tribe!
To reach Ali, please email her at email@example.com.