The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced on May 17 the selection of Arnie D. Fielkow as its new chief executive officer. Fielkow was selected after a comprehensive national search and will return to New Orleans, where he and his family previously resided from 2000-2011. Fielkow will begin his new duties on August 15, succeeding succeed Michael Weil, who is stepping down and will be leaving Federation on September 30.
“I am extremely excited to join the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans as its new executive officer,” said Fielkow. “For more than 100 years, the Federation has been a major part of bettering the greater New Orleans Jewish and non-Jewish communities—and it is an absolute honor and a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to work with Federation’s dedicated Board of Trustees, other organizational leaders and Federation’s constituent and beneficiary agencies in once again giving back to a community my family and I dearly love. The Jewish Federation has tremendous untapped potential and we are so excited to return home!”
Weil has been the Federation executive director since 2006, following the interim term of Roselle Ungar, the present Jewish Family Service executive director. Last year he announced his intention to leave his position in order to move to Israel and be closer to his extended family there.
Fielkow is quite familiar with Federation and its constituent agencies. “Through its extensive development efforts, the Federation supports more than a dozen Jewish affiliate agencies throughout the New Orleans area, collaborating with those organizations to strengthen the New Orleans community at large,” he stated. Fielkow previously served as Councilman-at-large for the New Orleans City Council and was elected the president of the Council during his six-year term of office. Working closely with Federation, Councilman Fielkow was involved with many of the outreach and community partnerships Federation has forged with the New Orleans area African-American, Catholic, and Muslim communities. Fielkow also established ties with Nourish, a community-wide partnership who mission is to combat homelessness and poverty in the city.
Since his departure from New Orleans, Fielkow moved to Chicago, his hometown, where he served as president and CEO of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA). According to the Federation statement, “Fielkow helped the Association reach unprecedented financial success, doubled the NBRPA membership levels, and helped grow membership programming and key business and community partnerships, including with the NBA, the NBRPA”s long-time supporter.”
Prior to his election, Fielkow was the highly visible executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints, who was responsible for the NFL team’s marketing, business, regional sales and interface with local government. Following the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, when the Superdome was destroyed and the future of the NFL franchise was unknown, Fielkow urged Saints owner Tom Benson to keep the franchise in New Orleans. Contemplating a move to San Antonio, where he had other, more viable business interests, Fielkow famously fought back and was fired by Benson. Fielkow’s stance earned him the admiration of thousands of Saints fans and eventually led to his popularity at the polls on his inaugural run in politics a few months later.
“Arnie’s return to New Orleans as our chief executive gives the Federation an experienced community leader to continue the dynamic progress we’ve achieved in the decade since Katrina,’ said Federation president Dr. Edward Soll. “We welcome Arnie and his family back home and celebrate Arnie’s new leadership role in our community.”
Henry A. Miller, the Federation’s president-elect, thanked the members of the search committee who interviewed prospective candidates over the course of the last several months. “I look forward to working with Arnie as he assumes the office of chief executive,” he concurred. “His professional accomplishments are stellar and I am highly confident he will lead the Federation and community to unprecedented success in the coming years.”
“Arnie has done a tremendous job taking the National Basketball Retired Players Association to the next level,” said NBRPA chairman of the board Dwight Davis. “He has had a strong presence with our business partners, whose respect he quickly earned, and he has well served our members. We thank Arnie for his outstanding and tireless contributions to our association and wish him continued success.”
Dr. Susan Fielkow, Arnie’s wife, will also be returning to New Orleans as the new head of Developmental Pediatrics at Ochsner Health System. She begins her term of office during the summer.