Doron Krakow steps down as head of JCC Association to focus on family, Israel

Group’s No. 2, Jennifer Mamlet, to serve as acting president and CEO beginning April 1 as organization launches search for permanent successor

Doron Krakow, who has served as president and CEO of the JCC Association of North America for the past seven years, will step down from his position at the end of this month, the organization exclusively told eJewishPhilanthropy. Executive Vice President Jennifer Mamlet will assume the role of acting president and CEO beginning April 1 as the association launches a search for a permanent replacement.

Krakow has spent most of the past five months in Israel, helping his daughter-in-law and infant grandson after his son, Aaron, was called up to reserve duty after the Oct. 7 terror attacks. During that time, he continued working at the JCC Association, occasionally traveling to the United States for meetings, and fully returned to the United States in January as his son was, at least temporarily, getting out of reserve duty.

“I went back to the intensive, evolving work of the JCC field, contending with its latest crisis, which is the post-Oct. 7 rise in antisemitism and the challenges of running a big-tent Jewish communal entity,” Krakow said. “I threw myself back into the work but began feeling that my heart is here. That even though my son is at this point not on active duty, my desire for my wife and I to be more supportive of him and his family at this time felt increasingly significant. And though I continue to love the work and love the JCC field and feel as if we’ve made remarkable progress as an agency and a movement over the last seven years, the time had come for me to be able to devote myself more completely to Israel.”

“I was already asking questions about whether continuing to do the work in the way I knew it needed to be done was consistent with where I needed to be personally and professionally,” he said. “And I entered into some long conversations with David Wax, the chair of my board, with Jen Mamlet, who’s been my right hand since 2018. And it became increasingly clear that I had come to a fork in the road, and if I was going to undertake a change, doing so sooner as opposed to later would allow the agency and the leadership to chart the course forward in a way that they believe is fundamentally in the best interest of the agency in the field.”

Krakow, who previously served in top Israel-related roles at Young Judaea, Jewish Federations of North America and American Friends of Ben-Gurion University, said he does not yet have specific plans to move to a new organization or venture and is still considering where or what they could be. 

“Though I haven’t materially begun thinking about what my next professional role is going to be, I’m looking at it through the lenses of knowing that I need to be anchored here [in Israel] and that the work needs to be anchored in Israel and with issues that I believe are growing out of the conflict that began on the 7th of October,” he said. “It seems to me that both challenges, needs and opportunities are going to grow immeasurably in the coming weeks and months. And I’ll be looking to find the way in which I can make the most substantive contribution here.”

Wax thanked Krakow for leading the association “through many difficult world moments — including the COVID pandemic, Tree of Life massacre, bomb threats, and most recently, the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel— which all impacted our organization and movement, as well as the Jewish world,” he said in a statement.

“The entire board puts our trust in Jen to lead the organization during this period and into the next chapter, as we begin our formal search for a permanent successor,” Wax said.

Shortly after the JFN conference, Krakow will return to the U.S. for final meetings with JCC Association leadership as he hands the reins — in an acting capacity — to Mamlet, who is also his top choice for his full-time successor.

“I have never worked with a more formidable or more capable partner than I have with her,” he said, adding that he would select her for the role “in a heartbeat.”

Asked if she was interested in the position, Mamlet said she couldn’t comment as the search process is confidential.

Mamlet said that through the search process she will strive to “build on the momentum, to continue the work of our movement.”

“I don’t want us to fall back during the search,” she said. “It is an important period of time to engage our critical stakeholders — really make sure that we are listening to what they hope to see for our movement.”

She stressed that while “Doron’s departure is quite significant,” the other top leaders of the organizations will remain in their roles and continue the association’s mission, which Mamlet said she hoped donors and other partners would appreciate.

“That continuity will remain. The senior leadership team is remaining, and investment in the team that we have and the work that we can do will continue, especially right now,” she said.