Risa Aronson’s smile can be seen through the phone. Her upbeat enthusiasm, keen interpersonal skills, and passion for Israel are easily discernable after even a quick call or Zoom conversation. It is these skills, and many others, that she brings to the table as Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) newest Boston board president.

Risa ascended to the role after decades of philanthropic involvement across the Jewish and secular world. She is the organization’s first female president in Boston after 20 years. And while she may be modest, under her leadership, she and the professional team have raised more than $9.5 million, which is already the largest-ever single-year total for JNF-USA in New England.

In her decades as a speech pathologist in the Boston Public School system and a fitness instructor at JCC Greater Boston, Risa has reached thousands of students and supported them in their development and growth. She is used to pushing people to see their inner light. Risa has also previously served in many roles within JNF-USA before being named president, including Chai Society chair, Women for Israel chair, as well as Israel Advocacy and Education chair.

“We are very proud to add Risa to our long legacy of leaders who hold Israel in their hearts,” said Sara Hefez, executive director of JNF-USA New England and the Capital Region. “She wakes up every day eager to make a difference. Risa is motivated, kind, and a true Zionist.”

When asked why JNF-USA is so important, Risa cited a wide range of JNF-USA projects and the organization’s role in supporting the land and the people of Israel.

“A lot of people still think we are about trees,” she admitted. “When I tell them what JNF-USA is doing to support communities in the Negev and Galilee, they are motivated to learn more.”

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