By Jason Rothstein, MPH
Several weeks ago, Sarah, our Senior Associate for Community
Engagement, asked me to put together an end-of-year post for our blog, and
frankly, I’ve been putting it off. In our line of work, the calendar year
doesn’t come up that often.
Like many non-profit organizations and businesses, we
operate on a fiscal year that runs July-June. Of course, as Jewish
organization, we also move to the rhythm of the Jewish year, anchored by the
twin gravities of the high holidays in the fall and Pesach in the spring. So
what, for us, makes this approaching new year meaningful?
And then, reviewing our many complicated calendars, I
realized something. This is our first of three full year anniversaries we will
commemorate in 2018. January 1 marks our first full calendar year since we were
rededicated as the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics. On
July 1 we complete our first full fiscal year since rededication, and on the
evening of September 9, we will celebrate our first full Jewish year since
rededication. That’s a lot of birthdays.
And this first New Year marks a pretty eventful 12-month
period. We welcomed three new professional staff, all of whom have made their
mark on the Sarnoff Center in ways big and small.
Sarah Goldberg arrived to take on a redefined community
outreach role, increasing our visibility and collaboration in innumerable ways,
forging strong relationships with partners new and old, and delivering some of
the best programming the Sarnoff Center has ever done – including the
triumphant return of Jean Therapy.
Rebecca Wang (of Insight Medical Genetics), our genetic
counselor, strengthened ties to our medical partner, and has brought a
wonderful combination of empathy and expertise for screening program
participants and others who reach out to us for help.
Becca Bakal arrived mid-year to become the Sarnoff Center’s
first full-time community health educator, and immediately began making
connections and building collaborations to complete her ambitious first year
project, a community needs assessment that will inform our work for years to
We also said farewell to Senior Advisor and former Director
Karen Litwack, whose legacy will continue to influence the Sarnoff Center’s
work long after her retirement.
2018 promises a lot of excitement of the Sarnoff Center and
its staff. We have lots of great community programming planned, and in addition
to the community needs assessment, we will also share some important findings
about hereditary cancer in the Jewish community stemming from another
collaboration started this past year with the American Cancer Society. And of
course, our recently expanded carrier screening program will continue to be available to provide
affordable, accessible services to members of our community.
All of us at the Sarnoff Center wish you good health and
happiness in the year ahead.