The CEO of Jewish Women International is stepping down at the end of 2019, after 20 years with the organization.
Lori Weinstein has been the CEO for 18 years, and was previously the development and deputy director. She said when the board of trustees renewed her contract three years ago, she told them it may very well be her last contract.
JWI focuses on empowering women and girls through domestic and sexual violence prevention, financial literacy, and women’s’ leadership.
“What we were able to create in these 20 years has been amazing,” Weinstein said. “I am so proud of it and … the way we’ve articulated a vision that is about the empowerment of women and girls on many specific issues.”
She added, “There are issues that the Jewish community is tackling right now … that when we address the transfer of power that we’re always looking to bring women in, well JWI’s been working on that forever.”
Chief Operating Officer Meredith Jacobs will become the CEO when Weinstein steps down. The full board unanimously endorsed Jacobs’ appointment as CEO, according to a press release.
Jacobs is a former editor of Washington Jewish Week. She said Weinstein built the mission of the organization, which until 1995 had been B’nai B’rith Women.
“Lori was able to take this legacy organization and make it into a start-up, really,” Jacobs said. “She walks the walk when it comes to mentoring and championing other women.”
Weinstein created an environment in which new staff members could thrive, Jacobs said.
“When I came on board, I never heard, ‘This is the way we always do things,’” said Jacobs. “I felt like I could come in and carve out a portfolio and create projects and she gave room to do that and I think that’s fostered a real sense of innovation here.”
Weinstein said it was just the right time for the transition.
“Twenty years is a beautiful time, but no organization should be about a person, it should be about the work,” she said.
Beginning in January, she will take on the title CEO emeritus and have a smaller role with JWI.
As CEO emeritus, Weinstein will continue to work on projects currently in the works, such as a partnership with Masa Israel, and will continue to be a mentor and teacher.
“It’s been my great good fortune to be a part of all this and to lead it for 20 years,” Weinstein said. “My God, where did the time go?”