Keren Grinspoon Israel names new executive director

Arbel will replacing Galina Vromen, who is retiring from her role after serving KGI and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for 18 years.

KGI's largest initiative, Sifriyat Pijama, which runs in partnership with the Education Ministry, works towards improving and promoting literacy across the world. (photo credit: KEREN GRINSPOON ISRAEL)
KGI's largest initiative, Sifriyat Pijama, which runs in partnership with the Education Ministry, works towards improving and promoting literacy across the world.
(photo credit: KEREN GRINSPOON ISRAEL)
Keren Grinspoon Israel (KGI), an organization that promotes global literacy, has named Andrea Arbel as its new executive director.
Arbel will be replacing Galina Vromen, who is retiring from her role after serving KGI and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) for 18 years.
Arbel herself served the Jewish Agency for 18 years as the director of its partnership unit, working parallel in a separate charitable role from her predecessor: While one focused on literacy issues in Israel and around the world, the other set her sights on the Jewish Diaspora.
While in her role with the Jewish Agency, Arbel oversaw seven international programs, including the Partnership2Gether and the Global School Twinning Network, which has around 700 schools participating in the program worldwide.
"We couldn’t have picked a better person than Andrea to build on Galina’s legacy at KGI," said Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of the HGF and member of the KGI board. "In every conversation I’ve had with Andrea, it’s clear that she values our mission and is energized to expand the incredible legacy and reputation that Galina has built to bring good to the world through children’s books."
KGI's largest initiative, Sifriyat Pijama (Pajama Library), which runs in partnership with the Education Ministry, works toward improving and promoting literacy around the world by donating 3.5 million books written in Hebrew and Arabic to half-a-million children annually. KGI also organized Maktabat al-Fanoos (Lantern Library), which gifts books specifically in Arabic to public schools serving Israeli-Arab neighborhoods.
"I’m so excited to join this team and to continue to grow and evolve the excellent programs that Keren Grinspoon Israel has already established so successfully over the past decade, in ways that are relevant to Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking Israelis,” Arbel said. "The beauty of the KGI model is that the Sifriyat Pijama and Maktabat al-Fanoos programs bring books directly to children, for them to take home and keep."
"Quarantines and shut-downs wreak havoc on schools’ curricula, but the love of reading and the conversations these books inspire is not limited to a school setting," she added. "Now more than ever, families need support in meeting their children’s intellectual and emotional needs. KGI allows kids and their caregivers to travel the world and discover their heritage from their favorite chair."

VROMEN WAS responsible for spearheading the launches of both of KGI's flagship programs. During her tenure as executive director, KGI was awarded by the United States Library of Congress as a Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree.
"I am proud also that over the years, we initiated the creation of about 100 new children’s books in Hebrew and Arabic, underscoring folktales, customs and traditions or revising traditional works with new illustrations. Dozens of these books in Hebrew have been translated to English and other languages for HGF’s signature PJ Library® program," Vromen said.
"Through KGI, we have created literacy programs that instill not only a love of books, but also foster children’s sense of who they are," she explained. "We introduce them to books that are unique to their culture but at the same time unite Israel’s diverse population. This means that religious and secular Jews read the same books about Jewish heritage.
"And other titles, particularly those with universal values, are read across the programs so that kids growing up in an Arabic-speaking town and those in a Hebrew-speaking town read the same books in their own languages," she said.
Harold Grinspoon, founder of the HGF and KGI, commended Vromen's work over her 18 years serving as executive director at her final send off – proclaiming that her impact on the organization "can't be overstated."
"She brought amazing commitment and passion to the task of building a strong culture of reading among Israeli parents and children, and leaves a legacy that we’ll be building on for years to come," said Grinspoon. "Her work with KGI has been incredible – and the close ties she has built with the Education Ministry have been crucial to the success of the programs in developing the language skills of Israeli children. We’re all deeply fortunate to have worked with and learned from her for all these years."
The HGF was founded in 2009, and since its inception has raised $20 million for its two hallmark programs, which is matched by the Israeli Education Ministry as well as Jewish benefactors such as The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Crown Family and the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation.