NEW YORK — The Board and Co-Founders of the New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) are thrilled to announce the selection of Phylisa Wisdom as the organization’s new Executive Director. Phylisa is taking over the day-to-day leadership of NYJA from Matt Nosanchuk, who served as NYJA’s founding President and Executive Director. Matt led NYJA from its founding in March 2020 through its start-up phase. He will remain actively engaged with NYJA as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
“Phylisa’s government relations and fundraising work with non-profits in NY have prepared her well to deal with the challenges of representing the diverse and pluralistic Jewish community of New York and to work collaboratively with local and State elected officials to advance common policy priorities for the city and state,” said NYJA Board Chair Nancy Kaufman.
Phylisa grew up in a tight knit Reform temple community. She traces her deep commitment to community engagement back to those formative experiences, including advocating for progressive issues with the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center. She is deeply connected to the Jewish, social justice, and democratic values upon which NYJA was founded.
“Phylisa Wisdom is exactly the right leader for this moment,” said NYJA Co-Founder and Board Member Rabbi Rachel Timoner. “She’ll bring an inspiring and incisive voice to ensure that the majority of New York’s Jews are represented and heard.”
Phylisa’s engagement on state and local issues of importance in New York City and State spans several years. She has volunteered on numerous political campaigns and was elected to serve on the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee. She also has held staff and board positions at New York nonprofits, including YAFFED and Literacy Trust. Her work has focused on educational and social equity, expansion of evidence-based intervention in public elementary schools, efforts to address COVID-era literacy challenges, as well as ensuring that students in private schools receive a substantially equivalent education.
“It’s an honor to join the NYJA team,” said Phylisa Wisdom. “I look forward to elevating the voices of New York’s diverse, pluralistic Jewish leadership in pursuit of social justice and equity, and to deepening our impact across the city and state, working alongside our board, founders, and NYJA Leaders Network.”
Since its founding, NYJA has made our voices heard on a wide range of issues, including a public health-driven response to Covid, criminal justice reform, combating antisemitism wherever it arises, supporting democracy in Israel and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and, most recently, advocating that the Mayor’s Jewish Advisory Council be more representative of the diversity of New York City’s Jewish community.
As the Executive Director of NYJA, Phylisa will draw on the breadth of her experience to build on this record. After attending California State University and King’s College London, where she earned a Master’s in Public Policy, Phylisa began her career as an educator, working with students with special educational needs. She learned quickly that the quality of education and individualized support a student received is tied to deeply entrenched systems, and saw the importance of true equity: giving people what they need to thrive. She also opened learning centers in Melbourne, Australia, and Tokyo, Japan. Then, at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, she was engaged in public affairs, as well as supporting youth anti-violence programming and a coalition to improve LGBTQ+ youths’ public health experiences.