Two prints of the famed stained-glass windows designed by artist Marc Chagall are the focal point of Jerome Nachlis' new office. They were congratulatory gifts from family and friends to celebrate his new position as Federation's chief financial and administrative officer. The vibrant colors and textures reflect his passion for Israel and the Jewish community.
Nachlis visited the Chagall windows, which adorn the synagogue in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, during a 2009 family mission to Israel organized by Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, where Nachlis, his wife, Debra, and their two teenage sons, Joshua and Aaron make their home.
Nachlis, who joined the Federation staff in May, came to the hospital on his own personal mission — to see his father's Yahrzeit inscription. "A kind hospital volunteer played a recording for me about the production of the windows as I reflected on my memories of my dad," he recalled.
He is convinced that this trip — the penultimate present for a person who has been involved in the Jewish community initially as a youth group member and, later in life, as a board member and officer of Jewish communal organizations in the Toledo, Ohio and Wilmington, Delaware communities — was beshert, the Hebrew word for pre-ordained.
Three months prior to the mission, Nachlis lost his job as chief financial officer for a large printing and packaging company. While family and friends suggested that he might want to rethink his travel plans due to his downsizing, Nachlis remained optimistic that everything would work out.
"The Thursday before we were scheduled to leave for Israel, I got a call-back for an interview with Cosmo Films, a global manufacturer and distributor of thermal lamination films. I was hired and told to get ready to report to work immediately upon my return."
Nachlis, a CPA and business executive with more than 25 years of experience in such large corporate entities as Invista Inc., a subsidiary of E.I. DuPont, ImageFIRST, Campbell Soup Company and KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, expressed excitement about his new career challenge — his first professional post in a nonprofit organization.
He stated his belief that his diverse background in the fields of operations, finance, human resources, information technology and general management will help Federation maintain its focus on its strategic philanthropy fundraising model and enhance its commitment to being accountable and transparent in its dealings with donors.
"I am optimistic that my business background will give Federation a fresh approach to ensuring that each dollar we allocate has the greatest possible impact on the needs we address," Nachlis said.
Nachlis also is optimistic that he can help lead an "evolution," working with both internal and external constituencies to achieve a greater understanding of Federation's mission and vision and its significant role as a community convener.
He is enthusiastically "evolving" into a Jewish communal professional, helping Federation to perform acts of tzedakah and tikkun olam — Jewish values that are ingrained in every aspect of his life. "By working for Federation," he added, "I can now bring together my passion for the Jewish community and my profession to a point where every day is a greater experience than the one before."
Nachlis would welcome the opportunity to talk with members of the community about their ideas and suggestions. Call him at 215-832-0807, or email: [email protected]