Meet Cindy Rogoway

Women's Philanthropy Spotlight

This post is part of a series highlighting women who are doing great work in our local Jewish community.

Cindy Rogoway:

Cindy Rogoway

I have been involved in the Jewish community my whole life, but I never expected it would become my career. My parents and my Jewish day school education instilled in me the values of tikkun olam and gemilut hasadim (loving-kindness), and social justice concerns have always been at my core. Yet, after I graduated from UCLA, where I had founded the Jewish Student Union, working in the Jewish community seemed too predictable — like going into the family business. I needed to prove myself in the “real world.”

I worked in publishing for a few years but always felt something was missing, and in 1989 I landed at the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco. My very first day on the job, I found myself in a meeting room listening to Natan Sharansky speak in person, and I knew I was in the right place. Here, at home in my Jewish community, was where my skills and interests could make the biggest impact. Ever since, my career has focused on building this community: first at the Federation for 14 years, and now for 13 years at Hebrew Free Loan.

I am motivated by the power of what happens when you connect people to people with the goal of helping others. Those connections radiate outward, growing exponentially over time, to create meaningful change. Fundraising and development have given me the opportunity to participate in deep, wide-ranging conversations with people from all backgrounds. By engaging in what matters to them and offering them opportunities to use their resources for the good of the community, everyone comes out ahead.

Since coming to Hebrew Free Loan, I have been privileged to interact directly with those who benefit from our services. Many of our interest-free loans help Jewish individuals and families get on their feet financially, providing money to handle emergencies, pay health care expenses, meet children’s special needs, get out from under high-interest debt, or deal with unemployment. Other loans help community members realize their dreams, such as getting an education, celebrating a wedding or b’nai mitzvah, starting a business, or adopting a child.

In today’s world, people don’t always have family members or fellow villagers they can turn to when they need a helping hand. Hebrew Free Loan is that village and that family. It’s amazing to think that the money we loan today has been donated by others in our community over the last 119 years, and that the funds are still circulating and still making a direct impact on people’s lives.

After 27 years as a Jewish communal professional, I continue to be energized by the insight and dedication of the lay leaders and colleagues I work with every day. Whether the focus is leadership development, fundraising, or direct services, it is all about making our Jewish community stronger and better equipped to repair the world.

Cindy Rogoway is the executive director of Hebrew Free Loan, which has been providing interest-free loans for 119 years to help people throughout Northern California’s Jewish community become and remain self-sufficient. She has been with Hebrew Free Loan since 2003, serving first as executive director since 2014. Prior to joining Hebrew Free Loan, Cindy worked for the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, where she focused on fundraising, community building, and leadership development. She has been an active volunteer with Congregation Kol Emeth, the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, and the Palo Alto-based Friendship Circle. She is vice-president of the International Association of Jewish Free Loans.


February 10, 2016


Robyn Carmel