In commemoration of the International Women’s Day the America-Israel Friendship league pays tribute to its female leadership. Those women who have taken the mantle of guiding the organization in its goal to continue to promote the principles and values of its founders.
Apart from their gender, female leaders usually don’t have much else in common. Some have brought peace to troubled lands, while others have sown discontent. Some have been knowledgeable or brilliant, others inept or unethical. They come from every ethnicity, creed and political persuasion ranging from ultra-conservative to ultra-left and ultra-right and represent every social strata of society. The AIFL shines the spotlights on its female leaders who are not only knowledgeable and brilliant but inspirational.
Name: Dr. Charlotte K. Frank Profession: Senior Advisor, McGraw Hill Education
Dr. Charlotte K. Frank a former just-about everything in education is now the Senior Advisor for McGraw Hill Education. She joined the company in 1998 coming in from the New York City Department of Education where she had a nine-year leadership role as Executive Director of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction.
Dr. Frank has been a keynote speaker at major forums. She has served as the co-chair with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) – “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh At Me”. She has received more than 70 awards for her achievements in education.
Dr. Frank graduated with a B.A. from CCNY, and MD.ED from Hunter College, received her PH.D. from the New York University and is now a N.Y.S Regent Emerita.
Words You Live By: We can accomplish whatever we want to; it depends on how much we care.
What was your dream job as a kid and why? I always wanted to be a teacher – teachers have a long-term high impact on a person’s life.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? Significant barriers to female leadership are – family responsibility & sexual harassment in the work environment.
Define a great leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess? A great leader is inspirational. Someone who is hardworking and can focus on activities that will lead to more success.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way? A key leadership lesson is that you always have to celebrate success and inspire others.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? Unfortunately, the biggest challenge may still be finding female role models especially in non-traditional fields and therefore stepping out of their comfort zone.
Pearls of Wisdom: Patience, but continue to be thoughtful about all future actions and compliment those who are successful in their careers.
Name: Daniella Rilov Profession: Head of Israelis at Homeis
Daniella Rilov is the Head of Israelis at Homeis, a platform helping people build networks within local foreign-born communities. Previously the Executive Director of the AIFL, she currently sits on the board of directors.
Daniella always felt a strong connection to both the United States and Israel, and after serving in the IDF and completing her studies at Tel Aviv University, she moved to New York. Daniella holds a bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University and a master’s degree in Art Market: Principles and Practice from FIT in New York City. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Gil and their two sons.
Words You Live By: There is no comfort in growth and no growth in comfort
What was your dream job as a kid and why? As a kid I didn’t have a specific dream of a certain career, but I did always have a strong sense of what following my life path would to feel like; what elements in my day to day this path needs to fulfill; and how the vision of accomplishing this would come together.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My family and close circle of friends are my biggest accomplishment. I would not be the person I am without the community of people that I have surrounded myself with over the years, and I cherish it deeply.
How do you balance being a mother and professional/ work and life responsibilities? Delegation is key to managing both worlds, finding a strong support system whether its family or external help is essential. I also try to remind myself not to stress over what I’m not doing when I am doing something I love.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way? We live in an era where the image we portray plays such an important role, that it’s hard not to take ourselves too seriously. But one thing I have learned is that minimizing our own self-importance is a path to freedom, and goes a long way toward following the gut feelings that lead to the really good stuff.
Define a great leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess? A great leader is someone that is first and foremost is a good listener and observer. One who constantly seeks to better himself, and who creates an open space for discussion and criticism on either side.
Pearls of Wisdom: Consistency is key to success: never underestimate the power of repetition. But try to always balance that strong focus and persistence with a sense of flexibility.
Name: Amira Dotan
Amira Dotan served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 1965 to 1988, ending her career as the Head of the Women’s Corps, with the rank of Brigadier General. Attaining it in 1986, she became the first woman in the history of the IDF to hold this rank.
Upon completing her military service, she served as Vice President of Ben-Gurion University, as well as on the Board of Directors of Israel Military Industries and at the Jewish Agency.
For the 2006 elections in Israel, Dotan joined the Kadima party in the 28th position on their list of potential Knesset members. The list eventually gained 29 seats, ensuring Dotan’s election.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
I had the privilege to serve in the Israeli society throughout my professional life – being the first IDF’s female general (given to me due to the major change of female soldiers ‘vocations) I led the way for others.
As a MK I was able to find solutions for the families who were evacuated from Gaza Strip and by initiating and changing the National Security Council.
Who inspired or inspires you and why?
Stories about women mostly Palmach and Hagana, whose courage and abilities gave them standing among those whom we should thank for having independent Israel.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
We, women are the ones who stop ourselves. May it be because we are bothered with “what people will think about me”, the price we pay for fulfilling ourselves as human being besides being female.
Did/Do you experience resistance when you are leading or working with men? If yes, how do you address it?
No. On the contrary.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Know who u are. Be what u are. There will be ups and downs but it will be – your way.
Pearls of Wisdom: Build networks
Name: Judi S. Flom Profession: Retired Corporate Attorney
Judi Flom is a retired corporate attorney who works with several nonprofit organizations as an advisor or member of their boards. She is a trustee of the America-Israel Friendship League, a member of the Global Advisory Council and National Cabinet of The Woodrow Wilson International Center For Scholars, and a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior at Harvard Law School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She founded and sponsors the Judi Flom Winners Concert for the Concert Artists Guild, is a member of the Augustus Juilliard Society, and is a former trustee of The Juilliard School. She was also a trustee of The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, Sing For Hope, and Turnaround For Children.
Words You Live By: Create your own happiness and opportunities – don’t wait for them to come to you. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
What was your dream job as a kid and why? When I was eight years old, I wanted to be a successful concert pianist. When I was about twenty-six it hadn’t happened so I chose my next best thing and became an attorney. The legal profession is my dream job: it is very creative and has enabled me to make a difference.
Who inspired or inspires you and why? My late husband, Joseph Flom. He was not only a legendary attorney, he was a thoughtful, caring, and kind philanthropist. Joe cared more about people than he did himself, and he was absolutely dedicated to promoting women in the legal profession.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? Becoming self-sufficient to the point I can help others. When it’s all said and done, philanthropy is what really matters in life.
When you began your career, did you ever imagine that you would be a leader in a male-dominated profession? Actually, I did. I was older than most when I graduated from law school, and had a lot of life and business experiences to offer. And I have always felt that being a strong woman gets much more attention than being a strong man (sorry guys!)
What are two key strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? Discover what your organization lacks and needs, and step up and fill the void. Go for it, and do it well!
Pearls of Wisdom: Never promote yourself at the expense of others. Women need to stick together unless there is a justifiable, unselfish reason for not doing so.
Name: Dr. June B. Dempsey Profession: Retired Dean, Extended University and Summer Session, the University of Arizona
June Dempsey retired as dean of The University of Arizona’s Extended University and Summer Session in 1994. She helped to establish this newly created college to replace the University’s Continuing Education College. Extended University served over 50,000 learners enrolled in credit and non-credit courses, certificate programs and continuing education courses throughout the United States. Elderhostel programs, television courses, high school and college correspondence courses, travel study offerings around the world, second chance programs for adults, online courses, and English as a Second Language courses were among the many offerings.
Dr. Dempsey is currently serving on the National Leadership Council of The University of Arizona Foundation as well as vice president of the America Israel Friendship League. She and her husband reside in La Jolla, California.
Words You Live By: Kindness brings untold rewards
Who inspired or inspires/inspired you and why? My dream as a kid was to become a teacher and coach because of the many inspiring teachers and coaches she had in the Detroit Public schools.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made? The best decision I ever made was to marry the man I met as a freshman at Albion College. The worst decision I ever made was not learn to speak at least one second language.
Who inspired or inspires you and why? My parents who devoted their lives to encouraging and supporting their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They taught me the meaning of unconditional love. My parents also encouraged me to pursue my dreams wherever they might lead and to continue my educational pursuits by helping care for our children and grandchildren.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders? Choose a career that is your passion. It’s never work when you are passionate about what you are doing. Don’t let any obstacles stand in your way. Look for a mentor to guide you and be a mentor to others.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way? The most important parts of leadership are to choose your staff, employees and partners wisely, to give praise and recognition when it’s due and say thank you for all the assistance you receive.
Pearls of Wisdom: Always follow your passion even if it means taking risks. Boldly accept new challenges. Choose your role models wisely. Be generous with your praise.
Name: Marjorie Federbush Profession: Founder, Strategies & Synergies International
I am happy to serve on the Boards of the America-Israel Friendship League, The Lauder-Reut Education Center, (Bucharest Romania) The Freud Foundation, U.S. and the Harvard Business School Club of New York (Co-Chair of Audit & Finance Comm.)
Words You Live By: It doesn’t have to be perfect; it has to be done
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
As a “big-picture” person, one of the most satisfying aspects of my career was the opportunity to work internationally in multiple countries after the “Wall came down.” It was gratifying to interact with Federal, local government officials, community leaders, and academics on efforts to revitalize and strengthen communities moribund from Communist domination and NAZI destruction.
Also, I am proud that I have published periodically articles related to my work. My favorite (written in 2012 with Jerome C. Muys Jr., a D.C. lawyer): Israel and Water (What’s Next for the) “Turn around Nation”: How Israel’s Leadership in Advanced Water Technologies Can Enhance Global Economic Growth and Diplomatic Relations.
How did you balance being a mother and professional/ work and life responsibilities?
Early in my career, I regarded myself as a “wife and mother with a full-time job.” Later, as workplace demands spiraled and my commitment intensified, I decided I had become a “professional woman with children.” During this transition, my husband’s help was invaluable.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Professional women have proliferated in so many fields that I believe they are much more easily accepted as authority figures. Barriers recede in the presence of competency. Traveling in the Baltic countries in the 1990’s with my college-aged son, whenever I met with govt. officials or organization leaders, (despite my title) they addressed their questions and comments to him. Cannot imagine that happening today. In my experience leading an organization, my mantra was: “When possible, go with an individual’s strengths.” It is much easier to reallocate the work-load than trying to “remake” an employee.
Who inspired or inspires/inspired you and why?
Finding female role models already involved in the philanthropic world was exceptionally helpful in stretching my aspirations and instilling confidence that, indeed, I could succeed if I worked very, very hard. The philanthropic world, in my opinion, is especially receptive to women.
What are two key strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Be eager, be flexible, be a team-player – but, most of all, always be aware of office politics.
Pearls of Wisdom: Adhere to “THE ‘YOU’ FACTOR” – Instead of single-mindedly concentrating on your own goals, let sensitivity to the needs of the person you are addressing guide the discussion.
Name: Orit Adato Profession: Owner & Managing Director of Adato Consulting Ltd.
Owner & Managing Director of Adato Consulting Ltd. Company specialized in Correctional Systems, leadership and strategic planning and training, managing terror inmates, security, correctional system’s intelligence and cooperation with other Security and Law Enforcement Agencies. 25 years of service in the IDF, up to a General rank, mostly in training & command positions 17 years of correctional experience, including: 4 as the Commissioner of the IPS – Israeli Prison Service – Lt. General, 9 years as Vice President of ICPA – International Correction & Prison Association, and 13 years as a consultant in these areas in various countries and international organizations.
Former board member of the Council for Peace & Security, President of IWF – International Women Forum Israel. Research colleague and lecturer in the ICT (International Institute for Counter Terrorism at the IDC – Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya) for the last 13 years, since retirement. Board member and Chairperson of “Gesher Leadership Institute”, since 2012. Founder and board member of Devora Forum – Women in Security & Foreign Affairs.
Words You Live By: Be positive towards life challenges, and do your best to design it that way and achieve.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? Formally – achieving 3 stars General rank as the first woman to become Commissioner of the Israeli Prison Service. Informally – Becoming a role model for women to understand and believe in their abilities to accomplish, (while still having and raising a family).
Who inspired or inspires you and why? First of all – my mother whom has been a “fighter” in our young Israeli conservative society, as a woman – teacher/educator, as well as “the ears” and adviser for my siblings and my friends all along the way, inspiring me to achieve highest challenges.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
In Israel we have a military environmental society, according to our security needs, therefore women usually do not belong to the “Old boys security network”, what act as a barrier in the political life, and even in the private sector, especially in security related industries. But, this barrier is less relevant in the municipal political arena, as well as in the finance and law areas. In these areas women are leading smoothly.
Did/Do you experience resistance when you are leading or working with men? If yes, how do you address it? As the Commissioner of Prisons (IPS) I had the most challenging experience of leading a male oriented hard organization. I came from the military, an outsider and a woman! They were very upset with me being their commander. I showed them that I do trust them and their professionalism, even though they don’t trust me, I lead them in a different way of leadership from what they knew before, using combination of all leadership sources.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way? Be a “Soul Player” – love what you do and “inflame” your people with your brightness in your eyes and love in your heart. As a woman leader – Remember how challenging it has been for you to reach your leadership position, identify the talented women (there are!) in your organization and make their journey a bit easier that it has been for you.
Name: Ruby Shamir Profession: Executive Director Israel Office and Director of International Operations AIFL
Executive Director Israel Office and Director of International Operations America Israel Friendship League, dedicated to strengthening the ties between the United States and Israel through its people-to-people programs for the last 27 years. Formerly, director of public events at the Public Affairs Division of Tel Aviv University.
Ruby Shamir is an active partner in her family’s real estate projects. One of the founders of IWF in Israel, former international secretary IWF (International Women’s Forum).
Co-Chair of the Spring conference of IWF 2000, member the Israeli organizing committee of IWF Spring 2016 conference in Tel Aviv. Among her public activities, she serves for many years as member of the Executive Committee of the board of Schneider’s Children at Schneider Children Medical Center of Israel.
Ruby, seventh generation sabra (Israel born), is married to Yoram and mother of one son, Opher.
Words You Live By: Israel’s Relationship with the US is very important for both countries
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? My parents inspired me to be a proud Israeli, an accomplished woman and always to volunteer and do good to society.
Who inspired or inspires you and why? I am happy that both my husband and I inspired our son to be the same way.
Did/Do you experience resistance when you are leading or working with men? If yes, how do you address it? I never experienced resistance or any obstacles because I am a woman
Pearls of Wisdom: Do whatever you believe in!
Name: Tali Koren Profession: Delegations Coordinator, America-Israel Friendship League
Tali Koren joined the America-Israel Friendship League’s Israel Office bringing her expertise as a travel industry professional and her passion to share knowledge. Her love for Israel has always been evident all she does to inspire those she comes into contact with.
What was your dream job as a kid and why? Being a kid, I’ve always dreamt to be a teacher. Growing up back in the days when Jews from all around the world immigrated to Israel I’ve realized the important role of the teacher. Therefore, I studied pedagogy in the university but eventually pursued a career in tourism.
Who inspired or inspires you and why? My grandmother was a person of actions. While working and teaching she also volunteered to educate immigrants in the worst conditions possible devoted to the cause of building the Israeli state.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? My 3 boys who I have raised to love the land and its inhabitants.
What are two key strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? Always trust your gut instinct. Always believe in yourself.