Welcome Jill Bowen
Meet Jill Bowen, Federation’s New Vice President of Women’s Philanthropy
What would you say is the unique impact women have on the Jewish community?
"There are so many ways to answer this question, looking back to Biblical references, world leaders, business developers, and on and on. However, for me, I always turn to what is closest and near and dearest to my heart: my family. My work has always allowed me to expand the definition of family to include the Jewish community. One of the reasons I gravitate toward Women’s Philanthropy is the unique role that women have within this family. Women can set the tone of an entire room. Women can share and disclose their deepest feelings to each other. Women can open each other’s eyes and hearts simply by saying, 'come with me.' Women are motivated by each other and each other’s passion. Women have the unique ability to transform anything!"
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
"Each time I am asked this question, my answer is always the same: my Great-Grandfather, Samuel Kappel. He is an inspiration to me each day. The way he conducted himself with his family, his business relationships and most importantly with each individual he met throughout his life is something to be admired and emulate. Yes, I may have romanticized to an extent, but having never met him and developing my love for him only through stories, that is my prerogative. I would want to listen to him talk about his values, what his family life was like growing up in Russia, making a decision to immigrate to the United States, why he was so committed to creating NY Federation and how he integrated Jewish values in to his business practices. l would just want to listen to him tell stories – and then I could tell him that five generations later, the name Kappel and all that goes with it still lives on through his 4-year-old great-great-granddaughter, as her middle name and a badge of honor."
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
"I am so grateful that a few things on my bucket list have already been checked off. Top of the list was become a mother. I am so blessed to have crossed that off my list and enjoy the blessings that come with it each day. For a more frivolous item on the list, take a ride on a hot-air balloon. I think when I was a child, I was blown away by the ride that Dorothy took from the land of Oz back home to Kansas and it has always stuck with me. The thought of being in the open sky and seeing the world from a different perspective is very liberating to me. I believe one day my ride will happen."
What was the moment you knew you wanted to work in Jewish communal services, and why are you passionate about them?
"Truthfully, there wasn’t a moment that I decided to work in Jewish communal services; it has really been that I haven’t had a moment where I decided not to. I was born in Knoxville, Tenn., to a non-Jewish woman who made the very difficult decision to put me up for adoption. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to provide me the life that she wanted for her child. That very hard decision was only made palpable for her by choosing Jewish Family Services as her support. My biological mother believed that ‘Jews take care of their own,’ and for her that meant I would always be in good care. I was fortunate enough to become part of a deeply committed family and quickly took on ‘fourth-generation’ status in Jewish communal life. I feel beholden to that gift every day of my life and can’t picture anything but giving back in appreciation."
When you’re not working and have time to yourself, what is your favorite thing to do?
“Time to myself? What’s that? Thankfully, my time is filled up with my daughter, husband, two dogs and our friends. We have an open-door policy in our home and it is often filled with love, laughter and good smells. I love to entertain and host. In my next life, I would like to have a bed & breakfast, meeting interesting people on their own personal journey and filling their bellies with delicious food. Daily favorites are listening to my daughter recount her day’s activities and taking long walks with our dogs.”
Jill Bowen has 20 years of experience fundraising within the Federation system.
She joins the Palm Beach County community after spending nine years as Senior Vice President of Israel and Global Philanthropy at the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). In that position, she lead the relationship team responsible for more than $150 million and 150 Federations, and she created strategy for marketing more than 120 programs.
Prior to her work with JAFI, Jill was the Development Officer at Ithaca College, where she raised major gifts for the $145 million comprehensive campaign and liaised between the Jewish Studies program and Institutional Advancement department to secure funding and academic growth.
She has also worked for Capital Camps & Retreat Center as Director of Development, and for Jewish Federation of Greater Washington as Director of Financial Resource Development and Director of the Women’s Division.
A graduate of Ithaca College, Jill earned a bachelor of arts degree in speech communication.
Jill and her husband, Geoff, live in Palm Beach Gardens with their daughter, Emily, and dogs Bogey and Red.