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Spertus Institute Welcomes New Trustees

Spertus Institute Welcomes New Trustees

Spertus Institute proudly welcomes Irena Friedgan and
Stephen Wolff to its Board of Trustees

Irena Friedgan’s introduction to Spertus Institute marks a first for the 95-year-old organization. As with many nonprofit organizations, most Spertus Trustees have been longtime supporters or learned of the organization’s work through friends or colleagues.

Friedgan was introduced to Spertus Institute through the University of Chicago’s Rustandy Center of Social Sector Innovation’s Alumni Board Connect, a program that matches University of Chicago alumni with nonprofit organizations whose missions converge with their skills and interests. Her first exposure to Spertus was a lunch with Spertus VP for External Relations Ellen S. Hattenbach, who refers to their meeting as a “blind date that resulted in a perfect match.”

Friedgan, who was born in the Former Soviet Union, immigrated to Chicago as a child and was raised in a home dedicated to lifelong learning. She earned her CPA at age 21, after already receiving a BS in Finance and Accounting (with high honors) from DePaul University. She received her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2008.

Friedgan has worked in finance at United Airlines, Abbott, Bank of America, and Eligo Energy, where she served as acting CFO. She recently joined divvyDose, a start-up pharmaceutical company, as the Director of Finance. She lives with her husband and two children in Glenview.

Joining the Spertus Board with Friedgan is Stephen Wolff, Partner and President of NKS, a Des Plaines-based precision stainless steel supplier he founded in 1991. An expert in strategic planning, Wolff has worked in manufacturing and industrial distribution for most of his career, including as an engineer at Westinghouse Corporation and as a patent attorney specializing in mechanical patents and trademarks.

Wolff was introduced to Spertus by longtime friend Michael Markman, with whom he will now serve on the Spertus Board. As with Friedgan, Wolff’s success demonstrated the strength of continuing education. He holds a BS in Engineering from University of Illinois, a JD from John Marshall Law School, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He and his wife, cardiologist Dr. Marla Mendelson, live in Chicago.


Spertus Institute offers dynamic learning opportunities rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and is open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, exhibits, speakers, seminars, workshops, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online.

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018