Rana Fahoum, CEO
Rana was born in 1973, grew up in Nazareth and moved to Jerusalem after graduating high school at the age of 16. Coming to the city marked a turning point in her life—a new path of study, raising a family and building a rich career in education, to which she has devoted her life for over two decades. Rana lives in the Shuafat neighborhood with her husband Rami and her children Amir, Sari and Jude. Four languages are heard at home: Arabic, Hebrew, English, and even French which is spoken mainly by the children who study at the French School.
When she arrived in Jerusalem, Rana began her studies at the Hebrew University for a BA in International Relations and English Linguistics, MA in English linguistics, also serving as a teaching assistant. 1998 would become one of the most significant years in Rana’s life. At age 24, she established and directed a high school in the Abu Tor neighborhood that developed into a 14-year project. Nurturing a new generation of students, the school became her second home. During that time, she also completed another master’s degree in Political Science for Public and Political Leadership at Tel Aviv University.
In 2012, Rana left her position as principal of the school she founded, saying that she had contributed as much as she could and left her mark: “As soon as the place becomes identified with you, it’s a sign that you should retire at the peak and allow other qualified people to pick up where you left off. You need to know when it’s time to move on.” Upon her departure, Rana began studying at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.
In 2014, a decade and a half after setting up the school, Rana closed the circle by becoming a supervisor at the Ministry of Education, responsible for the elementary schools in East Jerusalem. During this period, she studied in the Edvot program, co-sponsored by the Education Ministry and the Maoz organization, which trains the next generation of leaders in both governmental and private sector.
During this time, Rana made her initial contact with the YMCA when her children learned to swim at the institution’s legendary pool. She was later invited to be on the YMCA’s Board of Directors. “I fell in love with the place,” says Rana. “If you know the YMCA you fall in love with it. I don’t know anyone who has not experienced this emotion. Beyond the landmark building that speaks to all of us, each person finds his or her personal history here, and that is the beauty of the place.”
In early 2018, the YMCA Executive Committee began its search for a new director and asked Rana to apply. She soon realized that it was an opportunity to open a new chapter that would help continue her life’s work of advancing education and community life.
“I’m radiant with happiness because it’s exciting. There’s so much to do here,” Rana says. “I see the YMCA as a center that will spread the gospel of acceptance and inclusion, a place that can preserve the uniqueness of each person while connecting with others though education, peace and brotherhood. That’s the message that must come from the YMCA. The Y should be a central place in Jerusalem as well as an international symbol, a world center that spreads this vision.”
In February 2019, Rana embarked on a new path and was appointed CEO of YMCA in Jerusalem. Rana is the first woman to be appointed as the CEO of the JIY.