The Lowdown: Ilene Engel
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The Lowdown: Ilene Engel

I bet you didn't know... this about Ilene Engel.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Ilene Engel grew up in Jasper, Ala., and spent her career in the broadcast news industry. She earned her bachelor’s at the University of Texas, has lived in many cities throughout her career and has called Atlanta home for the last 25 years. Following her last position, as corporate bews director, Engel became a full-time community volunteer. She is the immediate past president of American Jewish Committee Atlanta/ Southeast Regional Office and serves on the National AJC Board of Governors.

Engel’s commitment to giving back is best summed up in her work and tzedakah, uplifting women as founding chair of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta and a past board chair of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation. The former is celebrating its ten-year anniversary with an event featuring CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in conversation with CNN Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on April 27.

Through JWF, Engel empowers women and girls to effect positive social change in Israel and across the country, primarily in Atlanta. “Over $1.6 million has been invested in changing systems to better society through JWF,” she said. “In comparison, the AWF is the secular version. Both organizations have similar missions: to lift up.”

Delve into Engel’s lighter side and find out what she likes to sip in her free time.

How did you make your mark on broadcast journalism?
I started at the bottom of television production, doing sports scores, prepping for the anchors. I followed jobs from Dallas to New York City to Atlanta. Learning in the control room, I became a corporate news director on the management side — all from behind the scenes.

People don’t know that I’m …
A passionate political news junky.

What instilled in you your love of travel?
My parents loved to travel. They took us in 1973 to Eastern Europe when it was still under Communism. I also recall visiting a synagogue in Moscow with KGB agents in dark glasses in the shadows.

What are you reading and streaming?
“Migrations,” a novel by Australian author Charlotte McConaghy. It’s very intense, about a woman’s journey and her perseverance. … Streaming a CIA spy series, “Condor.” And for fun, “Emily in Paris.”

If they made a movie about you, who would play the lead?
Ally Sheedy when I was younger. Now maybe Jami Gertz.

Word is you are a good cook.
I’m really not a cook, but a baker. One of my favorite sentimental recipes is my grandmother’s blintzes with farmer’s cheese.

What’s your favorite cocktail?
Añejo tequila with ice cubes. I sip. Don’t drink much.

You have retail store experience in your blood …
My grandfather was a peddler and came to Alabama because New York City was too crowded. My father had a family soft goods store where, at age 6, I was straightening socks. At ten, I was promoted to run the cash register!

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