About Ilia Salita

Ilia Salita was a beloved figure in the Jewish community, a visionary who brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and heart to his work.

An alumnus of Moscow State University, Ilia started his career in academia, later moving into the private sector, focusing on strategic planning, business development, and community-centric marketing. As CEO and President of Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Ilia led the Foundation's efforts to engage and inspire young Jews around the world, create vibrant communities, support Jewish culture, and build bridges to ensure a robust Jewish future, until his untimely passing in June 2020.

A strong believer in taking a data-driven approach to this mission, Ilia brought business-minded practices into the work of GPG and its partner organizations. Doing so has helped the foundation and its partners make smart decisions based on analyses, metrics, and evaluations that represent the objective picture of the particular projects and the philanthropic field in general.

"Ilia was one of those rare people who understood the details, just as well as he saw the big picture. And...he was as interested in the data as he was in the conclusions! Under his leadership, GPG supported many research initiatives done by our partners, but we also introduced an internal data-gathering process that is now the keystone of our grantmaking. I know Ilia would be proud to have a hand in continuing to help the Jewish community make decisions armed with more information and to help reward, as well as incentivize, the work of researchers in this space," said Marina Yudborovsky, CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group.

"Ilia Salita, who was a beloved friend and supporter of Jewish Funders Network, married the rigor of the engineer to the passion of the activist," said Andres Spokoiny, president and CEO of JFN. "The Ilia Salita Excellence in Research Award, which we established in his honor, will aid Jewish philanthropy worldwide to move ever closer to his ideal — strategic and kind, mentschy and collaborative."

About the Ilia Salita Award for Excellence in Applied Research

The establishment of the Ilia Salita Excellence in Research Award, funded by Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), was announced at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) 2021 International Conference on Wednesday, March 17. The award celebrates the life and legacy of Ilia Salita z”l, GPG’s former president and CEO, who was a deeply respected and beloved figure in the Jewish philanthropic world.  

The announcement was made during a plenary session of this week’s conference, by GPG CEO Marina Yudborovsky, JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny, and Josh Salita, Salita’s eldest son. The award is inspired by Salita’s passion for informed, data-driven philanthropy and his promotion of innovative applied research techniques.

The award will focus on recognizing and highlighting research projects that have the potential to impact Jewish communal life in a direct and positive way. Nominated projects must

  1. Be related to concrete issues affecting Jewish Communities;
  2. Be directly applicable to the work of funders and nonprofits in the Jewish community;
  3. Be accessible to lay leaders, professionals, clergy, who are not researchers
  4. Display creativity in their subject and/or approach; and
  5. Follow all applicable scientific or professional standards.

“I know Ilia would be proud to have a hand in continuing to help the Jewish community make decisions armed with more information and to help reward, as well as incentivize, the work of researchers in this space,” said Marina Yudborovsky, CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group.

“Ilia Salita, who was a beloved friend and supporter of JFN, married the rigor of the engineer to the passion of the activist,” said Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of Jewish Funders Network. “This award, which we established in his honor, will aid Jewish philanthropy worldwide to move ever closer to his ideal—strategic and kind, mentschy and collaborative.”

“My dad put great emphasis on being armed with information and using that information to make the best and the most appropriate decisions, to drive impact and to do so in a way that would most positively benefit the greatest number of people,” said Joshua Salita, Ilia’s son. “I know he will be proud and humbled that two organizations so close to his heart are working together to launch this award in the field of philanthropy, based not just on altruism, but on facts and on evidence.”

Nominations for the award can be made by institutions, researchers themselves, or by third parties. JFN will administer the process, and the winner will be chosen by a selection committee that will include representatives of Salita’s family, GPG, the research community, funders, and distinguished nonprofit professionals. The first call for nominations will be issued during the summer, with the winning research to be presented at the next JFN International Conference and published on a dedicated website, promoted by JFN to funders, Jewish media, and partners around the world.

Ilia Salita was president and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group for six years prior to his death in June of 2020. After graduating from Moscow State University, he started his career in academia before moving into philanthropy. At GPG, he led a significant and highly regarded expansion of the foundation’s work, and his leadership touched the lives of countless people across three continents. He is survived by his wife, Irina, his two sons, Joshua and Robert, and his father, Mikhail.