Today we are delighted to spotlight three of the leaders who are helping to bring 20 Western New York civic leaders to Israel from February 8-16. Deborah Goldman, Rene Petties-Jones and Sister Margaret Carney are working closely with JCRC Director Mara Koven-Gelman and Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein on an extraordinary 10-day experience where civic leaders will immerse themselves in Israel’s history and culture, and explore ways Israel creates a multi-culture, multi-faith, and multi-ethnic society.
Deborah Goldman, a member of Buffalo Jewish Federation’s Executive Committee and Co-Chair of Jewish Community Relations, currently works as a consultant for behavioral health agencies, counties and for-profits across New York State. She supports counties in using data for planning, writes grants, reviews grants for the Federal Government, and works on developing supportive housing for individuals with behavioral health disorders. She was certified by both New York City and New York State as a Women Owned Business Enterprise in 2019.
Deborah has been a civic leader throughout Western New York, serving as Chair of Planned Parenthood of Western and Central New York, Friends of the Night People, Housing Opportunities Made Equal and the Bureau of Jewish Education; Treasurer of the Central Park Homeowners Association; Board member of Temple Beth Zion; and Advisory Board Member of the Museum of DisAbility History. She has also volunteered with a series of dogs for Therapy Dog International at Children’s Hospital. Deborah along with her husband Grant Golden, were honored by Buffalo Jewish Federation with the Ann Holland Cohn Community Impact Award in 2018. The Cohn honor celebrates a person, couple or family who leads with courage and determination and has made a significant impact in the greater Buffalo community.
Rene Petties-Jones, President, National Federation of Just Communities, Western New York, is a graduate of University at Buffalo and served as the Community Engagement and Development Director of NFJC for 13 years before being appointed President in 2020. Skilled in nonprofit organizations, community building, and volunteer management, Rene leads with skill, vigor and passion for NFJC’s mission to overcome racism, bias and discrimination by building understanding, respect and trust through education, advocacy and community involvement. As one Board member noted: “Rene is a tireless partner in hosting diversity, equity and inclusion healing circles. Under Rene’s leadership, NFJC continues to build building bridges across social divides, affecting systemic change, and making WNY a truly inclusive and just community.”
A participant on Federation’s 2017 Interfaith Trip to Israel, Sister Margaret Carney served as the 20th President of St. Bonaventure University for nearly two decades beginning in 2004. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Sr. Margaret holds a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University, and a master’s degree from the Franciscan institute. She was also the first woman to receive a doctoral degree from the Franciscan University in Rome. Sr. Margaret has taught at the Franciscan Institute of Asia in the Philippines, at the Antonianum in Rome, and in Canada, Italy, England, Ireland and Japan. She served as the general superior for her community, The Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence Of God, in Pittsburg, PA. In 1999 Sr. Margaret became the director of the Franciscan Institute and dean of the School of Franciscan Studies. In 2003, she added Senior Vice President for the Franciscan Charism to her duties.