Fond Farewell: Shelly Prant Takes Her Passion for Connecting the Jewish Community to Albuquerque
By Julie Zweig
After 13 years with Shalom Austin, Shelly Prant has been offered and has accepted the CEO role for the Ronald Gardenswartz Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque.
"We are saddened at the thought of losing Shelly’s talents on our staff but thrilled that she will remain in the Jewish professional world in a position that will allow her to grow even more and share her amazing blessings," said Rabbi Daniel Septimus, Shalom Austin CEO.
Prant has been an integral part of the Austin Jewish community for the past 36 years. Even before she began working for Shalom Austin, she took on several volunteer leadership roles including co-chairing the Annual Campaign, chairing the Jewish Book Fair, co-chairing the Second Mosaic Luncheon and was the Jewish Community Association of Austin, now Shalom Austin, board president from 2002-2004. In 2005 she took on the role of interim CEO for the JCAA (now Shalom Austin) for 14 months and in 2006, became the JCC executive director until 2017 when she transitioned into the chief programming officer role of Shalom Austin. She has always been passionate about building a stronger Austin Jewish community and finds it bittersweet to leave.
"I have worked in other places. I worked for the state of Texas, I worked in other nonprofits, and I have done social work, but I haven't ever felt as fulfilled as I have doing this work for my own community," said Prant.
She says her passion stems from her love of her religion, spirituality and culture, as well as her co-workers with a similar drive. She says her work at Shalom Austin has never felt like a job.
"I live it every day all day long and I want to do that. I have spent countless hours up here on this campus and it's been the best thing ever. I'm constantly thinking about the work I do and wanting to come back the next day and do more of it. It fills me up," she said.
Her love for this community has been infectious. Her husband is a longtime supporter and both of their daughters have spent time working for Shalom Austin. After announcing her departure, she also received a flood of messages from members of the community recalling the way she has impacted their lives and the lives of their children. She says they have left an impact on her as well.
"One thing I will always take with me is inclusion, especially in our camp and early childhood programs. I feel like we have done a really good job being a support system for families and not just closing the door on them because they have special needs. For example, Jackson, who was once receiving our special needs services, has remained connected to our community and now works here on Fridays just to help. To see that, it's amazing," she said.
She is also grateful for all of the incredible people she has worked with, both as a volunteer and employee.
"There is something about what we do that makes you want to give your heart and soul and I've enjoyed that. It's not for the money. It's hard work. It's a lot of nights and weekends. And people come together and make it happen and I like being part of that," she said.
Prant is excited for the opportunity to bring her passion and skills to a new community when she leaves Shalom Austin August 15, but Austin will always hold a special place in her heart. There will be a celebration July 29 in the JCC Community Hall in her honor. More details will be coming soon. ■