In the world of leadership, some individuals stand out not only for their accomplishments but for the genuine care and passion they bring to their roles. Joel Fink, now the President of JCS (Jewish Community Services), embodies this remarkable combination of leadership, humility, and community dedication.   

Joel’s leadership journey began as a 25-year-old, when he was invited to join The Associated’s YLC and was matched with the board of Jewish Community Services, a newly established agency. The board consisted of 25 members, all of whom had previously served on the boards of the original 4 agencies that formed JCS. His early engagement with YLC during a challenging period—the 2008 recession—helped him raise funds for those affected by financial instability. Through his work at JCS, he established meaningful community relationships that laid the foundation for his leadership endeavors. 

One pivotal experience that shaped Joel’s leadership development was his involvement with Strictly Business. Collaborating with 350 professionals, he worked to communicate the impact of JCS on businesses and communities. Looking back, he recognizes this as a formative experience that refined his leadership skills. These endeavors, combined with other impactful projects, eventually led to his appointment as the president of JCS. 

Reflecting on his path, Joel’s humility shines through. He remains astounded by his ascent to the president’s seat, a testament to his unassuming nature. For Joel, leadership is synonymous with genuine care. He believes that demonstrating passion for one’s work not only inspires others but also compels them to seek active involvement. Self-described as “what you see is what you get”, Joel’s openness and willingness to be present have positioned him as a leader worth following. 

When questioned about his leadership strengths, Joel emphasizes the importance of authenticity. He advocates for genuinely caring about the cause one is leading, emphasizing that such passion resonates with others. To him, leadership is not confined to boardrooms—it is a lifestyle that extends to every facet of life. His leadership principles stem from everyday interactions, influenced by the teachings of mentors like Ellen Kagen Waghelstein, who stressed that leadership is an all-encompassing trait to be practiced at home and in the community. A recent graduate of ACHARAI Fellowship Class IX and a participant of Presidents’ Circles, these timeless leadership principles gained through Na’aleh’s programming have guided him on his remarkable journey.  

Joel also draws inspiration from Linda Hurwitz. He admires her embodiment of leadership traits—drive, passion, intentionality—and her ability to connect deeply with others. Joel aspires to emulate her leadership style, which has made her a treasure within the community.  

Balancing work and personal life is an intricate art that Joel has mastered. He keeps a clear boundary between his work responsibilities, lay roles, and family life. Once he’s home, he consciously shifts his focus away from work and prioritizes being present with his family. This intentional separation enables him to engage fully with both aspects of his life. 

In a world often defined by titles and achievements, Joel Fink’s story serves as a reminder that leadership is about more than just accolades. It’s about genuine care, humility, and an unwavering commitment to making a positive impact. His journey exemplifies the profound influence one can have by simply being oneself, showing up, and striving to make a difference.