The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced that CEO Arnie Fielkow will retire at the end of the year, and a search is underway for his successor.
“I’m thankful for the great opportunity to lead this wonderful organization the past 5-plus years,” Fielkow said in a message to the community. “Thanks for bringing Susan, me, and our family back to the greatest city in the world, and thanks for allowing me the opportunity to re-connect with my Jewish roots in a very meaningful way.”
Brian Katz, chair of the Federation board, said Fielkow “has truly been a bridge builder in the broadest sense. He has been able to increase the Federation’s impact throughout the communal, philanthropic, business and religious communities.”
He added, “we will have a chance to celebrate all of his accomplishments with the Federation at our Annual Celebration on Dec. 7 at the Audubon Tea Room.”
Fielkow came back to New Orleans in 2017 to lead the Federation after six years as the executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association in Chicago. Before that, he was on the New Orleans City Council, after parting ways with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, where he had been executive vice president since 2000.
“I have greatly enjoyed my Federation tenure and believe a very solid foundation has been laid for my successor’s future success,” Fielkow said.
Despite hurricanes and Covid, in addition to a “significant health challenge” in 2018, a lot was accomplished over the past five years. There was an emphasis on building partnerships in the greater New Orleans community, and two new “centers of excellence” were launched — for multicultural affairs and for interfaith families. Outreach to LGBTQ+ members of the community was also made a priority.
New revenue streams came from sponsorships and grants, and there were special efforts for hurricane relief, Covid and Ukrainian relief. After Hurricane Ida, the Louisiana Jewish Coalition was established, linking communities statewide.
The Federation also led the effort to rescind a New Orleans City Council resolution that anti-Israel groups touted as supporting the boycott-Israel movement, and two Israel celebrations in the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge with Governor John Bel Edwards. The state also passed anti-BDS legislation and held a trade mission to Israel.
The Federation has also implemented a security program for the community, including the hiring of a full-time community security director and formation of a community-wide alert system.
A nationwide search has been launched for Fielkow’s successor, with DRG Talent Consulting Experts advising the search committee, Katz said. The search is being chaired by Melinda Mintz and Jonny Lake, with committee members Alan Franco, Josh Force, Rebecca Friedman, Kathy Shepard, Rabbi Bob Loewy and Sarah Schatzmann.
The Federation’s annual meeting will be on Sept. 14, but it will be on Zoom instead of in person.
Fielkow has not announced his next chapter, but said “stay tuned as I still have much to give back to a community I love.”