With great gratitude for her years of dedication and commitment, the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service announces the pending retirement of Ellen Silver, our beloved Executive Director and friend. Ellen will step down in the fall of 2023 after 19 years of service, allowing time for the JFS staff to prepare for her departure and the Board to carefully plan for her successor. To say that Ellen will be missed does not do justice to the impact she’s had on the organization.
Ellen joined JFS in 2004 in a part-time role after moving to Utah with her late husband, Barry, earlier that year. Ellen’s experience in human services soon proved invaluable to the small but growing organization, and she became the full-time Assistant Executive Director in 2006, then Executive Director in 2008.
Building on the foundation created by the agency’s long time historical roots in Utah, Ellen’s leadership transformed JFS; the initiatives she created and nurtured are many. JFS is a well-respected Older Adult programming service provider because of Ellen’s efforts. She served on the Governor’s Commission on Aging under Governor Huntsman, the Summit County Aging Alliance, the Salt Lake County Partnership Aging Initiative, and the Utah Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors. Ellen’s keen eye for creative new programming led to JFS becoming the second community-based organization in the United States to offer the acclaimed Music and Memory Program to home-based dementia patients. Under Ellen’s leadership, a small food pantry was put in place years ago. Now the Alex & Sally Lebwohl Food Pantry serves thousands every year.
JFS is the leader in providing affordable mental health counseling to individuals and families, based on an innovative sliding fee scale ensuring therapy is available to those in financial distress. Ellen has served in leadership roles on the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance, the Summit County Suicide Prevention Task force, and other organizations building awareness around mental health issues.
Ellen’s leadership in times of crisis has been exemplary. In response to the severe economic downturn in 2009, she co-facilitated the Park City Career Network to address the needs of the unemployed. During the Covid pandemic, JFS facilitated extensive relief efforts in Salt Lake and Summit Counties, administering funding provided by Salt Lake County and the Park City Community Foundation.
More than anything, Ellen’s empathy and her commitment to collaboration both within JFS and among other human service agencies has resulted in better access to services and programs for those we serve. The Board would like to express its sincere gratitude to Ellen for all she has done to ensure that Jewish Family Service has such a valued reputation in the human service community and throughout Utah.
On Sunday, August 20, 2023 we will come together in tribute to Ellen, to celebrate her many contributions to JFS and to wish her well in retirement. Event details will follow, but please hold that date and plan to join us to honor Ellen!
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff of Jewish Family Service,