Reflecting on Susan Shulman Pertnoy’s Tenure as Board Chair

By Susan Shulman Pertnoy
Immediate Past Board Chair
Published May 16, 2024

It was inspiring to be joined by more than 250 people for Federation’s 2024 Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 9. Together, we celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of our community during my two-years as Board Chair, which concluded that evening. We paid tribute to the tireless efforts of exceptional volunteers and professionals, welcomed the new Board of Directors and passed the leadership reins to the capable hands of Federation’s new Board Chair, Barry S. Berg. We also recognized several recipients of Federation’s awards for outstanding leaders, community educators, professional staff, and we paid tribute to the graduates of four Mandel Center for Leadership Development programs.

Click here to watch a recording of this amazing evening. Click here to see the photo gallery.

The experience of being your Board Chair has been life-affirming and life-changing. I am so proud of the initiatives launched during my tenure – powered by your support and dedication. Our growth and successes are a direct result of the commitment of our incredible Executive Committee and Board of Directors, President & CEO Michael Hoffman, Federation’s dedicated professional staff, and, of course, you.

So many highlights and achievements stand out, and they demonstrate just how powerful our Jewish community is when we unite around Federation’s values and mission:

  • This community’s commitment to Jewish philanthropy has multiplied exponentially. Over the last two campaign years, generosity has grown nearly 70% to Federation’s efforts to address the needs of our growing community. This includes giving to Federation’s Annual Campaign, targeted gifts to our programs and partner organizations, and new endowments with our William A. Meyer Jewish Community Foundation. Campaign for the Future, the boldest campaign in our history that publicly launched this past December, has inspired thousands of community members to tackle the crucial challenges we face Today, Tomorrow and Forever.
  • When our global family has needed us most – you have stepped forward at every turn to stand with them. After October 7, thousands of people contributed to our critical relief efforts, amassing $10 million that continues to provide vital, life-saving care for the people of Israel. When Russia invaded Ukraine, our community pulled together and contributed $2 million to launch assistance, particularly for the estimated 200,000 Jews caught in the crossfire. Powered by our Stacey & Mark Levy Center for Israel & Overseas, you have shown that Jewish Palm Beach is there for people in need across the globe.
  • Though antisemitism may never be fully eradicated, our groundbreaking efforts are confronting hatred in bold, prominent and effective ways.

    We established the Palm Beach Center to Combat Antisemitism & Hatred, which has quickly grown into a crucial resource in galvanizing our community. Powered by its visionary leaders and donors, the Palm Beach Center’s initiatives like the Community Leaders Study Tour of Israel – which included several non-Jewish community leaders – has kickstarted new dialogue and understanding to combat hate wherever it exists. The Palm Beach Center’s recent efforts included successfully advocating for a new proclamation in Palm Beach County for Jewish American Heritage Month.

  • We have continued to grow our role as the Jewish community’s “City Hall”– and our new Strategic Plan lays out plans to elevate and strengthen our commitment. Over the past 16 months, national researchers and a dedicated task force conducted dozens of interviews, focus groups, community assessments and analysis. This led to us creating a roadmap for Federation to serve Jewish Palm Beach and our global community more effectively. Click here to learn more about the eight key directions we will focus on in the years ahead.
  • More people than ever are connecting with Jewish life in the Palm Beaches. Thousands of families have explored Jewish values and traditions during our Friedman Commission for Jewish Education’s phenomenally successful Sundays Together program series. Our new Jewish Grandparents Initiative is strengthening intergenerational connections. Our Dorothy & Sidney Kohl Jewish Volunteer Center has expanded as a hub of community service providing avenues for tens of thousands to engage in impactful volunteer projects. New partnerships with organizations like OneTable have enriched Jewish life in the Palm Beaches, encouraging connections and bringing over 1,000 Jewish young adults together for Shabbat dinners. We are also piloting the new Together@OneTable for adults in midlife. I am also proud of our continued investment in strengthening our current and future leaders, including the new LEAP program that completed its first cohort in May.
  • We are creating a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging and acceptance. I am so proud of how we are embracing people across all age groups, backgrounds and abilities.     Our outreach efforts have connected with many interfaith families, and we are committed to expanding inclusivity even further. We have grown the impact and presence of our Jewish Disabilities Network to create more inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities, and we have become vocally active in supporting LGBTQ+ Jews and their families – such as our participation in Palm Beach Pride.

Looking ahead, I am filled with optimism for the ongoing growth and strength of our Jewish community. My dedication to Federation remains unwavering. I look forward to continuing my role as host for Federation’s mosaic TV show and podcast.

Thank you for all you have done for our community during our 2024 campaign, the last two years, and for what you will continue to do with us as we  grow and thrive together.