Founded in the 1980s and opened to the public in 1996, Skirball Cultural Center is an educational institution committed to Jewish values. Its exhibitions and programs foster human connections and promote social justice through literary, visual and performing arts from around the world. President and CEO Jessie Kornberg manages the Skirball’s day-to-day operations and is involved in the direction and future strategy of the organization. She has been involved in nonprofit civil rights work for two decades.
What motivates you to go to work every day?
I love going to work at the Skirball. It’s one of the most beautiful places in all of Los Angeles to spend time. Most people are here to enjoy themselves—whether it’s meeting friends in the café or taking kids to Noah’s Ark—so you’re surrounded not only by beauty but by a pretty regular dose of laughter too.
How do you rally your team to take on a major challenge or goal?
I am a big fan of celebrating the little wins along the way. Recognizing how individuals are making their contributions toward a larger goal not only gives me confidence and pride in our team and our work, but I think it helps spread that same sense of accomplishment and progress to others.
What advice would you give your younger self just starting out in business?
Don’t let fear motivate decision-making. You can drive toward passion and purpose, and just keep an eye on risk and uncertainty in the rearview mirror.
Tell us about your mentors.
I have the best group of mentors, whom I would describe as dear friends and loving listeners. At the top of the list are my husband, my parents, my former boss Mitch, my board chair Phil, my best friend Jordana, my longtime role model Michelle, my executive assistant Susy and my executive vice president Leslie. They know me well, and I know they are on my side.
What are your favorite spots in the Valley?
Besides the Skirball?! Fatamorgana Gelato is conveniently located on the drive home from the grandparents and is one of the best bites of anything anywhere.
Photographed by Jeffrey Fiterman