Meet the Staff


Ellen Carmell photo

Executive Director
Ellen B. Carmell

Ellen joined JWF as its Executive Director in January 2015. With over two decades of leadership in the non-profit sector and a strong commitment to the Jewish community, Ellen comes to JWF with experience in grants, board development, program administration, volunteer management, community outreach and advocacy.

Prior to JWF, Ellen was Director of the Bridging America Project at AJC (American Jewish Committee) where she was responsible for the strategy, operations and finances of a national initiative to strengthen Latino-Jewish relations and advance immigration reform.

Ellen began her career as a museum educator and was the first Director of Education at the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago. After many years as a museum professional and active lay leader, she decided to launch her "Encore Career" by putting her passions to work for the greater good -- devoting the second act of her professional life to social change within a Jewish context.

Ellen has been involved with Facing History and Ourselves for over 25 years and currently serves on its Board of Directors, Committee on Governance, and Chicago Advisory Board as a past Chair. She also served in numerous lay leader positions at Temple Beth-El in Northbrook.

Ellen holds a Master's Degree in Museum Education from The George Washington University and a Bachelor's Degree in Art History and Psychology from Smith College. She studied Non-profit Board Governance at the Center for Non-profit Management at the Kellogg School of Management. Ellen and her husband David live in Chicago; they have two children and two grandchildren.

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Mary Thomas photo

Program Associate
Mary E. Thomas

Mary joined the Jewish Women's Foundation team in February 2014. She began her career at JUF in 2012 as a Secretary III in the Planning & Allocations department and worked closely with the Community Foundation for Jewish Education on the Ta'am Yisrael 8th Grade Israel Experience trip. After staffing the 2014 trip to Israel, Mary joined JWF as Administrative Assistant and was promoted to Program Associate in July 2016.

Mary graduated from The College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY) with a Bachelor of Science in English Literature and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. After graduation, she moved from upstate New York to Chicago to pursue a career in nonprofit.