Dallas hosts PowerNet conference
Photos: Randall Stewart Photography
On Sunday, May 7, 2023, Cathy Barker accepted a plaque and the appreciation of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. From left, Paula Goldstein (NJHSA chair), Cathy Barker (JFS of Greater Dallas president and CEO), Eric Goldberg (JFS of Greater Dallas board chair) and Reuben Rotman (NJHSA president and CEO)

653 attend Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies’ event

By Deb Silverthorn

Shalom Y’all, wishing welcome and peace, defines the spirit of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies’ (NJHSA) 2023 PowerNET conference, which began with a spirited Havdalah service and dessert reception on May 6 at Dallas’ Fairmont Hotel. A record-breaking 653 persons in attendance for the annual conference included participants from around the United States, Canada and Israel.

For Dallas, once again, the conference was an opportunity to have Texas’ star shine.

“We are living in a time when the work that NJHSA does is so important, where our professionals and volunteers are called on every day for critical support. It was an honor to welcome the organization and its members,” said Igor Alterman, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ president and CEO, welcoming attendees.

“Jewish Family Service [JFS] of Greater Dallas receives the second highest investment from our Federation. We take the need, and our investment in all areas of the organization, very seriously,” said Alterman, adding that members of his team participated in event workshops.

NJHSA is a go-to resource that strengthens agencies to better serve their communities. Its mission is to advance the Jewish human service sector through advocacy, best practices, innovation and partnerships. NJHSA members provide, for the Jewish community and beyond, health care, career, employment and mental health services, as well as programs for youth, families and seniors, Holocaust survivors, immigrants and refugees, persons with disabilities and caregivers.

The theme of PowerNET 2023, “MISSION POSSIBLE: Jewish. Human. Service. Agency,” focused on making the visions and aspirations of those serving their communities a reality. Interactive workshops presented ways of strengthening agencies and the work they do by opening new conversations, inspiring creative thinking and spurring participants to action.

“The conference was very well received and JFS of Greater Dallas was a wonderful host agency,” said Reuben Rotman, the president and CEO of NJHSA, which supports more than 165 member agencies. “We had more than 30 agencies who sent no less than six staff members — agency CEOs, entry-level professionals and every level in-between — coming together for the benefit of our communities.”

Cathy Barker, JFS of Greater Dallas president and CEO, said that being able to share her agency’s offerings was an exceptional opportunity filled with pride.

“The Network’s conference is an opportunity for us to learn best practices from one another, to collaborate, to enhance our partnerships and forge mentorships among the agencies. The conference provided sessions of education, of board development and opportunities for potential funding. As the host agency, we were thrilled to share some of our greatest programs and to have so many of our incredible professionals address our visitors from near and far,” explained Barker.

More than 150 of the attendees visited JFS of Greater Dallas’ Food Pantry, its Jubilee Park Counseling Center and the PLAN (People Living Active Now) Clubhouse. Among the conference’s presenters were JFS of Greater Dallas’ Dr. Harriet Cohen (Older Adult department clinical social worker), Ariella Goldstein (senior director of clinical services emerita), Allison Harding (senior director of Career & Financial Services), Sherae Harding-Griffin (financial services coach), Phil Konecki (manager of Career Services), Lyz Latson (Kosher Home Delivered Meals manager), Deizel Sarte (COO) and Dr. Yaffa Podbilewicz (clinical psychologist and director, Holocaust Survivor Care).

In conjunction with PowerNET ’23, the Jewish Federations of North America Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma provided workshop training featuring innovative approaches in the Jewish community to addressing the mental health crisis and advancing PCTI (person-centered, trauma-informed) care and support each year for thousands of Holocaust survivors, family caregivers and other older adults with a history of trauma.

Throughout the conference there were onsite Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv services, a networking cocktail reception at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum and a Texas-style line dancing hoedown. Dallas Kosher supervised catering provided by the Fairmont Hotel and Simcha Kosher Catering.

Dallas city council member Cara Mendelsohn, who sat on the JFS of Greater Dallas board for 15 years including service as board chair and who attended previous NJHSA conferences, was proud to extend greetings on behalf of the city of Dallas.

“JFS is my passion and I have worn the shoes of a volunteer, lay leader and nonprofit professional,” she told the audience. “I know how important the work is that all of you do every single day. Never underestimate the power of your work.”

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