Kol Nidrei Address by Chairman of the Board Mark First
Mark First, Chairman of the Board
September 24, 2023 ~ 10 Tishrei 5784
We are very excited to announce that Valerie Russo will be the next Executive Director of Park Avenue Synagogue, commencing on May 10, 2021. Valerie joins us after a decades-long successful career in the non-profit sector and in government and brings to PAS her proven leadership, as well as her operational and administrative excellence. Valerie, her husband Marc Freud, and their two teenage children live on the Upper East Side. They are longtime members of Temple Israel just a few blocks away and are very much looking forward to also becoming part of the PAS community.
Valerie is currently the Chief Operating Officer of The New York Foundling, a 150-year-old, $180 million non-profit providing services to support children, families, and adults, where she has led many of the administrative departments, including human resources; communications; facilities; finance; information technology; and quality, performance, and compliance. Before that, she was the Vice President of Strategy and Excellence at Children’s Aid Society, overseeing a team of 40 professionals in the talent management, performance management, public policy, public funding, and compliance areas. Previously in her career, she served as Chief of Staff and then as a Deputy Commissioner for New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services during the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.
Valerie is the current Chair of the Board of The Town School, having previously served as Audit Committee Chair and Co-Chair of the Search Committee for the Head of School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and French from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
As you may recall, in early October, we shared with you that Beryl Chernov, our Executive Director of the last 19 years, has, in consultation with his family, decided to leave Park Avenue Synagogue this spring. Beryl is transitioning to the role of National Executive Director of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, a non-profit organization supporting leading scientists who conduct cancer research in Israel. We look forward to celebrating Beryl’s accomplishments and legacy at the end of our 139th Annual Meeting on May 13, 2021, which begins at 6:00 pm.
We also want to thank our Executive Director Search Committee, Natalie Barth and Mark First, Co-Chairs, as well as Rabbi Cosgrove, Lauren Klein, Marc Silberberg, Susan Silverman, and Craig Solomon. In partnership with its search partner, PBR Search, the Committee considered candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, including Jewish organizations, academia, non-profit organizations, and the for-profit sector. The goal was to find someone who had strong leadership, operational, and administrative expertise, as well as the passion and connection to our heritage and mission. After a thorough search, we are thrilled that we found both!
We will welcome Valerie to the PAS community this spring, knowing that her expertise, coupled with her passion for Jewish life, will raise Park Avenue Synagogue to reach even greater heights. As we embark on a new leadership chapter of Park Avenue Synagogue, Hazak hazak v’nitzhazek – “Let us be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another!”