TORONTO — Frank Markel, 65, the new president and CEO of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), says his career path has definite links.
Although until now he has worked in health-care administration, Markel said that many studies show there is a direct correlation between employment statistics and health.
The Winnipeg native who is the father of five and the grandfather of two was previously president of Trillium Gift of Life Network, and helped establish the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. “I’m happy now to have the chance to help people find meaningful work. There is no question that it is linked to health.”
This is the first time he has worked in the Jewish community, he said, and “I feel lucky to have a leading role in an organization that represents [its best values]. That was a big draw for me. JVS still plays a major role in helping Jews find work. The inner Jew in me is certainly coming out.”
He knew he was in the right place, he said, after attending the retirement party for Karen Goldenberg, the former president and CEO of JVS.
“I met a Jewish woman from Argentina who was trained there as a pharmacist. Her degree was not recognized here, but she came to JVS for guidance and eventually wrote her [qualification] exams. She is now a pharmacist in Hamilton,” Markel said.
“She came to the party because she was so grateful to JVS. This made a big impact on me.”
He was struck by how JVS assists the community at large, he said, when he met a Lebanese woman who received help from the agency. “That meant a lot to me.”
He met these two women, he said, after his first day of work. “I had already felt lucky to work here. These stories were icing on the cake. Imagine how many more stories there are.”
Markel said that in Goldenberg’s 12 years at the head of JVS, she did an incredible job of expanding the organization’s vision. “She realized the needs of the broader immigrant community, and I have always been fascinated by their stories.
“Many immigrants are highly qualified in their field and just need help finding employment. JVS’s Emet employment program is dedicated to helping people in the Jewish community find different types of jobs. Potential employees can drop in or call, and there is a dedicated website, www.emetemployment.ca.”
At his post for several months now, he has not made any big changes. “I’m trying to get to know people, and hearing their ideas.”