WoMentoring Leadership Network Mingles, Strategizes

Seeking both to expand its membership and strengthen a JVS signature mentoring program that matches women experiencing life and career transitions with professional role models, the WoMentoring Leadership Network (WLN) gathered for a networking and recruiting event.

Gathering at the home of WLN Co-Founder Debbie Powell for an evening of camaraderie, inspiration and sisterhood, WLN members and potential future recruits also heard an inspirational speech from Rabbi Laurie Coskey.

 “Our goal is to create a growing community of like-minded women who really want to give to other women and see them achieve professional success,” said WLN Co-Chair Eileen Coskey Fracchia, speaking to potential new members at the event.

Established in 1997 by JVS COO Claudia Finkel, WoMentoring helps women who are looking to change direction or advance their careers. The program pairs each participant with a mentor who has an established career in the mentee’s chosen profession. During the six month program, mentors and mentees meet regularly, strategize and work towards a defined career goal making use of  JVS’ 81 year workforce development expertise as needed.

More than 300 mentors and mentees have been matched during the program’s 15 years. Graduates have gone on to jobs in banking, legal, government, nonprofit, retail and other industries. Several have started their own businesses and have returned to become mentors themselves.

Looking to jump start her career in fundraising and returning to the work world after 17 years, Janis Weir was looking for someone who knew the field, had an established network and “somebody who would call me back,” she said with a laugh.

She found all that and more in her mentor Nina L. Bernstein, Assistant Director, Western Region of American Technion Society.

“It wasn’t so much that I was looking for a skill set,” said Weir. “I needed a push from someone who would make me feel confident about going out in the world again.”

“We would always meet over food, get our catching up done in the first 10 minutes and then talk about business,” said Bernstein who has extensive experience in professional fundraising. “I’ve always been a volunteer in some capacity and started women’s groups. This has been a very nice way of getting to know some very nice women and helping.” 

In 1999, Powell, Judy Flesh Rosenberg and Eileen Coskey Fracchia established the donor-directed WLN to ensure the success and financial stability of the WoMentoring program.

WoMentoring graduates Loren Stephens and her mentee, Alina Kaufman, shared recollections of their experience. Stephens, President and Founder of Write Wisdom Inc. and Providence Press, provided leadership and guidance for Kaufman who is looking to pursue a career in marketing and fundraising.

“I feel like I get more from being a volunteer than those who might be receiving my services,” said Stephens who recently finished another cycle with a second mentee. “Paying it forward for me is the greatest feeling in the world.”

Kaufman, who came to the United States from the Ukraine and put herself through college, praised the WoMentoring program for helping to make hers “a success story.”

“I had all the opportunities to succeed,” said Kaufman who investigated careers in the arts, law, fashion and real estate. “All I needed was someone to believe in me.”

The organization also welcomed Judy Sitzer Werner, the new Manager of WLN, who comes to JVS following a lengthy career in event planning and nonprofit and political fundraising.

“I’m excited to get to know everyone and really help grow this organization,” said Werner. “I think this is an amazing program, and once people know about it, I think they’ll be turned on by it.”

To learn more about WoMentoring or the WoMentoring Leadership Network, contact Judy Seitzer Werner at (323) 761-8888, [email protected].