The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston announced today that its Board of Trustees has chosen Avital Ingber as the organization’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. Ingber will become the eighth CEO of the Federation and the first woman to assume this role. She succeeds current President and CEO, Lee Wunsch, who has served the Federation for the past 30 years, 18 of them as its leader.
“Lee’s passion and dedicated leadership of the Federation has been a constant in our community. When he announced his retirement, we knew it would be a monumental task to fill his role and began an extensive search process to find the right person for the job,” said Carol Goldberg, former past Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the CEO Search Committee.
The search committee held its first meeting in February 2016. Since the initial meeting, they have worked diligently in conjunction with search consultant Rea Kurzweil, to fill the position. Committee members included: Marc Eichenbaum, Daniel Goott, Elyse Kalmans, Arturo Karakowsky, Bobby Lapin, Barry Lewis, Ben Samuels, Rabbi Ranon Teller, Haya Varon, Sandy Weiner, Carol Goldberg, Chair, and Denis Braham, ex-officio. After an extensive search, the committee felt Ingber was the strongest candidate.
“Avital emerged as the right leader for the next phase of our work as a Federation. She brings with her a strong knowledge of and love for the Jewish people,” continued Goldberg. “I look forward to seeing what she accomplishes.”
Ingber comes to the Houston Federation following a storied career with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. There, she currently serves as both the organization’s Chief Development Officer and Managing Director of the Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund. In these roles, she oversees the strategy and procurement of all philanthropic resources.
A known leader in Jewish communal circles, Ingber’s accomplishments in Washington D.C. include the creation of cutting-edge and nationally replicated programming and engagement tools for Jewish Young Adults, the development of family philanthropy advisement and Next Gen philanthropy program, and highly-effective fundraising and resource development.
“We are thrilled that Avital has accepted the positon of President and CEO,” said Sandy Weiner, Chair of the Houston Federation’s Board of Trustees. “Her dynamic leadership, passion for community, keen understanding of philanthropy and ability to connect with multiple generations in the Jewish community will be crucial to the success of our work.”
Formed in 1936, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston recently celebrated its 81st year. It works with a network of affiliates and partners to improve the lives of Jews in Houston, Israel and around the world. The Federation makes the Jewish community stronger by raising and distributing close to $13 million a year through annual and supplemental giving.
Ingber expressed her thanks to the committee and trustees. “It is an honor to fulfill this leadership role. The previous leaders of the Houston Federation have set a high bar of excellence and I look forward to building on the groundwork they’ve laid for me, “ said Ingber. “I am driven by my passion for Jewish life and being a part of something larger than myself. I look forward to embracing my new Houston community as it has embraced me through this process.”
Ingber received her Executive Masters in Leadership from the Georgetown School of Business and her B.A. from the Kogod School of Business at American University. She will begin her new role as CEO in the fall.