Robbins Resigns, Federation Searches for New CEO

Robbins Resigns, Federation Searches for New CEO

Federation Board Chair Beth Arogeti announced that David Fisher will serve as interim CEO as the search for a permanent candidate ensues.

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Eric Robbins will step down as CEO of Federation on June 30.
Eric Robbins will step down as CEO of Federation on June 30.

Eric Robbins announced that he will leave his position as President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta after seven years at its helm. Navigating the ever-changing, ever challenging landscape and carrying forward the mission of growth and cohesiveness, and sometimes emergencies, Robbins’ tenure included the obvious horrors of Oct.7, and reached back to events like the 2018 shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which happens to be his hometown.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta CEO position is considerable in scope it leads an umbrella organization that supports a plethora of issues grounded in philanthropy, including resources for healthy aging, those in need, Jewish education, inclusivity, pathways for families, leadership development, and community innovation and planning, in addition to supporting Jews globally. It is estimated that the Federation employs around 60 people.

Before joining Federation, Robbins’ foundation for social work was enhanced working for the Jewish Community Center MetroWest in West Orange, N.J., and as the CEO of Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Ga., for children with serious illness, disabilities, and other life challenges, while his early connection to Judaism was shaped as a camper at MJCCA’s Camp Barney Medintz in the North Georgia mountains.

Debbie Kuniansky will head Federation’s search for a new CEO.

Robbins recently chronicled his February trip to Israel with various rabbis and community leaders where the goal was to gain insight and formulate action plans upon returning home. There, he noted that the group met with Holocaust survivors whose grandchildren were held hostage in Gaza, and met with IDF front line reservists, visited terrorist sites, and the Supernova music festival grounds, along with having to shelter themselves during blaring sirens as the Iron Dome charged into action.

Renee Safra Kutner, Federation COO, told the AJT, “Eric has greatly strengthened Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta as an organization, but more importantly he has strengthened our Atlanta Jewish community. Under his leadership, we are raising more money than ever before; our impact has grown in terms of grantmaking, engagement and programs; and perhaps most importantly, the relationships and collaboration of organizations across the community are at their strongest. Eric has navigated us through multiple crises to leave us in a position of strength, and we have a tremendous professional team that is committed to building on this strength so that Eric’s legacy is truly “from strength to strength.”

Board Chair Beth Arogeti welcomes input from the Jewish community regarding prospective CEO candidates.

Beth Arogeti, Federation Board Chair, relayed, “We are grateful for Eric’s leadership through some of the most challenging times for the Jewish community. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has been the philanthropic heart and soul of the Atlanta Jewish community for more than a century. A national search is underway for our future CEO who will help innovate and accelerate our mission and vision and help to build the infrastructure needed for a thriving Atlanta Jewish Community for the next 100 years.”

On April 2, Arogeti announced that Federation’s Board of Trustees approved the hiring of David Fisher as acting interim CEO effective June 1, as Robbins will depart Federation on June 30 after assisting Fisher with the transition. Fisher comes to Federation with several years of leadership experience in both the profit and nonprofit sectors, including serving as Federation National Cabinet chair from 2003 to 2004, National Campaign Chair from 2007 to 2009, president of a local investment advisory firm, and President and CEO of the Birthright Israel Foundation.

David Fisher will act as interim CEO for Federation beginning June 1.

Arogeti put into place a search committee headed by Debbie Kuniansky, Vice-Chair of the Board, and Matt Bronfman, Immediate Past Chair of the Board, who will assemble a team to provide support in the new CEO search. Arogeti stated, “We [also] welcome input from the community regarding prospective candidates.”

Kuniansky told the AJT, “Eric Robbins has made an indelible impact on our Jewish community, and we certainly have big shoes to fill. Currently, we are in the early stages of organizing our search committee and selecting a firm to assist us in a national CEO search for Eric’s replacement. Jewish Atlanta is fortunate to have a strong team of professionals and lay leaders at Federation, and we are confident we will attract top talent for our vibrant and growing Jewish community. As our interim CEO, Fisher’s … leadership gives us the time to be thoughtful and comprehensive in our process. We are excited about the future of Federation and Jewish Atlanta.”

Bridge builder Robbins concluded, “I think David is the perfect person to keep the ship sailing, and I look forward to working closely with him through the transition and beyond.”

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