‘Co-couples’: Abramsons, Kronenbergs hope to renew energy in Annual Campaign

Jerry and Madeline Abramson (left) and Faina and Ariel Kronenberg will co-chair the 2017-18 Annual Campaign for the Jewish Federation of Louisville.
(photo by Courtney Hatley)

To head its 2017-2018 Annual Campaign, and to nurture future leaders, the Jewish Federation of Louisville has again named co-chairs.
Two married couples have been named to be the faces of this year’s drive: Jerry and Madeline Abramson, and Ariel and Faina Kronenberg.
The purpose for having four co-chairs – “co-couples,” as Jerry put it – is to blend experience and youth and put in place a process that develops future Federation leaders.
“The whole theory is that Madeline and I have done it before, on one level or another, with the campaign,” Jerry said. “It seemed to make sense to have co-chairs so that we could bring another young couple on. Then next year they could bring another couple on to be with them. That way, we could have a continuity of leadership for the campaign.”
Jerry, a former Louisville Metro mayor and Kentucky lieutenant governor, has chaired the campaign once before. Madeline has chaired the Women’s Division.
But the Kronenbergs aren’t without their own experience. Ariel currently serves on the JCL Board of Trustees and Faina has co-chaired YAD programs as well as Israel at 60.
Each couple appeals to a different demographic that the Federation serves.

The question “What Inspires Me” will become a recurring theme throughout the Annual Campaign.

“We hope that we’ll be able to connect with people we know in the community, and we know have been philanthropic and generous to community needs in the past,” Madeline said.
“But the Kronenbergs know a whole set of younger people we may not have met,” she continued. “I think that our experiences in the Jewish community will really complement each other.”
Identifying an untapped demographic, Faina, who was born in the former Soviet Union, hopes to connect with Louisville’s Russian Jewish community during the campaign.
“If I can get them contributing more – both of time and, of course, financially,” she said, “they will know that every contribution is valuable, helpful and counts.”
But first, she said the Federation must offer programming that appeals to them.
“I feel their absence at social events,” Faina said. “They come to use the facilities, but when it comes to social activities, to party-type events, I feel they are absent and I would love to find out why and what activities or events would speak to them more.”
Ariel said it is critical to renew interest in the campaign, among all age groups, including his own.
“I play basketball Sunday mornings with the same group of guys; we’ve been playing for 20 years,” he said. “A lot of them used to be very, very involved and they kind of drifted away, and they are not excited about what the Jewish community is. For me, that would be a great thing, to feel the excitement again.”
Apart from raising money, the couples agreed on a subset of goals for this year’s campaign:
• Energize or reenergize the Boomer generation.
• Attract and make the Federation meaningful for newer and younger families.
• Remind the community of the importance of the campaign.
• Listen to the donors and continue the personal touch of the campaign by meeting with people.
Born in Argentina, Ariel and his family made Aliya when he was 9. He grew up in Rishon Lezion and moved to the United States with his wife, Faina, after his military service. He earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing and an MBA from CUNY Baruch College.
The couple moved to Louisville, where Ariel became a vice president at LSY Defense, LLC. He and Faina have three children – Emma, Gabi and Liam.
Born in St. Petersburg, Faina left the then-Soviet Union when she was 2. The family briefly lived in Israel before moving to Calgary, Alberta, where she grew up. She met Ariel while studying in Israel and they moved back to New York where they both went to college – she studied German at Columbia University. She worked as an ultra-sound technician after moving to Louisville. While co-chairing Israel at 60, Faina insisted that the celebration include a significant observance of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
Madeline, a Louisville native, has served as a leading community volunteer in organizations dedicated to the arts, social services, health care, young people and education. A graduate of Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville, she currently chairs the American Red Cross Kentucky Region Volunteer Services Advisory Committee and is the past chair of the Kentucky Region of the Red Cross. She has twice chaired the board of Maryhurst, a Louisville-based organization that offers residential and treatment programs for young women who have experienced abuse and neglect. She is a former chair, and now director emeritus, of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and is a past chair of the Kentucky Commission on Women. Madeline and Jerry have a son, Sidney, and a daughter-in-law, Kandice.
A Louisville native who grew up in Strathmoor Village, Jerry graduated from Indiana University and Georgetown University Law School. After a successful local political career – he was sometimes called Louisville’s “mayor for life” and the international airport terminal was named in his honor – Jerry’s capped his career by serving in the Obama administration as deputy assistant to the president and White House director of intergovernmental affairs.
One of the more exciting aspects of the upcoming campaign, Jerry said, will be its emphasis on social media.
“The fact that they’re focusing this campaign from the get-go on the social media is something that’s probably unique in comparison to past campaigns,” he said. “When you’re talking about drawing more people into the organization, drawing them into the campaign, this is the perfect way to reach out to millennials and others.”

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