National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis
Location: St. Louis, MO
Ellen Alper doesn’t miss a beat.
Alper, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis (NCJWSTL), said moving forward as a team is what makes things happen.
“It allows for the development of skills for the entire team — we have to make sure that we leave a legacy where others are trained and excited to do the work,” she said. “Leaders who do a good job inspire others to follow.”
It is with this mentality that she has garnered enormous success for NCJWSTL, which was founded to advance social and economic justice for all women, children and families and to fight for individual and civil rights.
Hired as the first full-time professional executive director for the organization, Alper transformed an “all-volunteer” agency with limited staff support to one of the premier non-profits in the community. Setting the standard for non-profit best practices that are shared with other sections of NCJW nationally, NCJWSTL accommodates working women by holding board meetings at 5:30 p.m. and offering babysitting services.
A new consent agenda allows for stronger, interactive meetings using the talents of the 33-member board to move the organization ahead. Alper successfully led the organization through the pandemic without any layoffs or furloughs and coordinated the offering of over 60 virtual programs, meetings and fundraisers in the last 18 months.
“Programs and projects are coming back in person and in a hybrid model. Staff are working remotely and in the office in order to continue moving the mission forward,” Alper said.
Alper explained the vision for NCJWSTL includes leading as a visionary and innovative organization. “Our vision is multi-faceted,” she said. “The future is very bright for this organization.”
During her 17 years with NCJWSTL, Alper has engendered unprecedented growth and community impact. Employees increased from six to 25, and volunteer engagement increased over 100% from 2010 to 2021. Her vision for expansion of the commercial venture, The Resale Shop, has made NCJWSTL a top five chapter (out of 61) nationwide.
With Apler at the helm, Resale Shop increased the bottom line from $68,510 net revenue in 2004 to a high of over $500,000 in 2018. During COVID-19, she established a new endowment, raising nearly $1.8 million, and started three new service projects: Healing Hearts Bank, Kids Community Closets, and Back to School! Store.
NCJWSTL was recognized with the Better Business Bureau Torch Award in 2019. Healing Hearts Bank was honored with the What’s Right with the Region Award in 2015 and received the Launchcode Moon shot Award in 2020. NCJWSTL was also honored with the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for financial and ethical management in 2019.
Alper said her long-term goal is to make sure that the organization is strong and healthy and that systems and processes are put in place to ensure stability.
“There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Women need to train other women and pass along their experience so they can also move up the ladder,” Alper said. “There is room for all of us in this community and by working together we can have a much greater impact.”
Ellen worked in The White House from 1978-1980 for the Carter Administration.