Meet AJFF: Development Director, Lori Zelony

03/7/2017

AJFF attracts some of the most talented, passionate people. We rely heavily on this village – our staff, our sponsors, our volunteers, and our audience – to make us a world-class cultural organization. This month, we're putting the spotlight on the newest member of AJFF’s senior staff, Development Director, Lori Zelony.

Lori Shares a Bit About Herself

I am so excited to work for such a great organization, whose main focus is to educate people about so many diverse parts of culture and history, and is also encouraging people to come together for conversation. Raising money for such a dynamic year-round festival with donors that care about the community is so thrilling for me. I love when people are happy, and the AJFF donors I have met so far are thrilled! 

I have 25+ years of experience in the non-profit, corporate and political spectrum. For the last decade, I have served as the Director of Development Programs and Special Events for the Alfred & Adele Davis Academy. In this capacity, I oversaw the school’s annual campaigns, annual community golf tournament, as well as community galas and other special initiatives.

I began my career in politics working for many years for two California politicians. Transitioning out of politics, I moved to Atlanta to work for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. There, I negotiated Olympic ticket sales with worldwide sponsors and licensees, and developed and implemented marketing programs for the multi-million dollar luxury suites at the Olympic venues. Besides the excitement of the Olympics, I was able to run with the Olympic Torch in California, which I will never forget.

Serving as the Development Director for AJFF allows me to continue the conversation and talk about something I believe in. The investment our sponsors and patrons are making in the community is a gift, a gift for anyone to share. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival serves the community we live in and puts it in a positive light to learn and to grow together. I like to think that those who choose to support the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival are not only supporting and investing in themselves and their families, but they are also investing in the festival for their friends, families and those they may not even know.

AJFF: How did you come to be involved with AJFF?

LZ: For many years I have gone to AJFF movies with family and friends. As much as I have learned something from every movie, I have enjoyed the conversations with my peers after every movie even more. It’s a fun way to spend time with friends, sharing thoughts about our Jewish history and learning about our ancestor’s stories and struggles. Some movies made me feel happy, and others very sad, but to me that’s what the festival is all about, a place to share and learn about so many things.

What is the most interesting challenge, in improving AJFF, that you get to help with? 

LZ: One of my goals is to speak to as many people as I can about all the benefits that AJFF has to offer including the message that our mission to learn and grow is something bigger than ourselves. As a mother of 16 and 18 year-old girls, there is nothing more important than my children being a part of something bigger than themselves. I hope that every donor feels thankful for all the festival has become, and with the year-round programming beginning, the learning will never stop.

Every AJFF donor should believe they are giving a gift to the community. I personally thank the donors for their vision – the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is definitely a 'feel good' gift to our community. My goal is to grow our base of supporters and bring the younger generation into the fold. I want every supporter to feel good about their investment. 

How do you describe AJFF to those who've never experienced it?

LZ: You can describe the experience of the festival or you can invite a friend to join you and experience it first-hand. AJFF is something that needs to be experienced by all. There are so many movies to choose from with so many interesting topics of discussion that come from each movie. The movies with opening speakers, a Q&A, or panel discussion are simply fascinating. I learn something from every speaker. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with AJFF?

LZ: AJFF, like so many things in life, is about the process; it’s about looking through the amazing program guide, picking interesting movies, calling friends to join, having dinner, standing in line, seeing other friends and enjoying a great movie that teaches us something about ourselves. After the movie the conversation continues, what our friends thought, what emotional experience I got out of the movie that my best friends may have not gotten out of the same movie. Learning about life and learning about each other. AJFF is nothing but a positive experience. Our sponsors and supporters keep the conversation going…


Thank you to Lori for her time this month. We are so excited to have her with us and to see the organization grow under her guidance!

If you'd like to become a supporter of AJFF, either through a donation or as a full-fledged sponsor or patron, you can contact Lori via email, at lori@ajff.org, or by calling 404-630-1280. You should also reach out to Lori if you're interested in being a part of the festival's Fundraising and Development Committee.