Federation welcomes Wolf as community relations director

Posted on: September 20th, 2012 by The Jewish Observer

By Kathy Carlson

Abigail M. Wolf

Abbie Wolf will join the staff of the Jewish Federation of Nashville on Oct. 1 as its Director of Community Relations, Federation Executive Director Mark S. Freedman and Community Relations Committee Chair Irwin Venick have announced.

Wolf succeeds Judy Saks, who retired on Aug. 31 as Observer editor and CRC director.  Wolf has 20 years of experience with nonprofits and with Jewish communal organizations.

“Following a comprehensive search in which we reviewed 23 resumes and conducted three in-person interviews among highly qualified candidates, Ms. Wolf emerged, in our collective opinion, as the strongest and best fit for this important position with the Jewish Federation,” Freedman and Venick said.

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Wolf spent a year in Europe.  Visiting Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Center proved crucial in guiding her on her career path. “For me, it was an epiphany-filled, life-changing experience,” she said.  “It hit me on a visceral level.  I wanted to come back and work in the Jewish community.”

She returned to the United States to work in regional offices of the Anti-Defamation League in California for five years. There she served as an ADL spokesperson, lobbied legislators and presented hate-crime training and anti-terrorism workshops to law enforcement agencies in four states. She also helped develop alliances between the Jewish community and African-American, Asian, Latino and gay/lesbian organizations. 

After earning a master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Wolf intended to return to Jewish communal work but also became interested in animal welfare.  That interest led to nine years with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where she served as Director of Corporate Programs, often acting as a liaison between animal shelters and companies interested in funding animal welfare efforts.

When she and her husband, Vanderbilt Hillel Executive Director Ari Dubin, moved to Nashville seven years ago, Wolf again felt the urge to work within the Jewish community.  “Once we moved here and I became part of the community, I wanted to get back to my roots,” she said.  “Having children, I felt tied to the community in a way I haven’t felt connected to other communities.”  Wolf and Dubin are the parents of two children, one at Akiva School and one at the Early Childhood Learning Center at the Gordon Jewish Community Center.

Wolf is enthusiastic about her new position.  She already has begun working with CRC members in strategic planning for the group’s activities over the next 12 to 18 months and beyond.  “It is such an exciting time,” she said. “I am so energized by the work ahead.”

She encourages community members to join in the CRC’s work. She said, “For someone who isn’t involved in the organized Jewish community, it’s a great entry point.  For people who are involved, it’s a wonderful opportunity to pursue and be a part of the community’s public affairs agenda,” including issues of Israel advocacy and government affairs. She continued, “We welcome a diverse range of political and religious viewpoints. All that’s required is a passion for Jewish life, both locally and globally.”