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After founding and leading the Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association for 15 years, Ginny Gendelman has passed the torch to Anna Goldstein Koenig, former assistant director of Hillel Milwaukee.

The Jewish Free Loan Association offers various types of interest- free loans to help people meet different needs: whether through personal or emergency loans, student loans, or loans to help people grow their families through adoption and other means. Goldstein Koenig became the new executive director Sept. 5.

The concept of a Jewish Free Loan Association first piqued Gendelman’s interest when she became familiar with the Los Angeles chapter while living there. At the time, Gendelman was working full-time as an architect and raising two young daughters, but knew she wanted to get involved with the organization once her schedule cleared up. After moving to Milwaukee and realizing there was no free loan association, she decided to start one herself.

Gendelman formed the organization in 2009 with donations from six couples, including herself and her husband. Since then, the organization has grown significantly, and now holds $1 million in funds and maintains a 99.6% repayment rate. The coalition has loaned almost $2 million to date and served thousands of community members.


“It’s a way to allow people to solve their own financial situation, while preserving their dignity. And it doesn’t feel like charity. People don’t want charity. They just want to solve their own financial problems and go on with their lives,” Gendelman said. “So, we really make sure that it feels like they’re just taking out a loan, and they’re paying it back.”


Reflecting on her time at the association, Gendelman described an experience with a former client who took a semester off from college after her father died. “I get choked up just even thinking about it,” Gendelman said.


Since the student had missed one semester, she not only lost her scholarship, but was obligated to pay back the financial aid she received for the semester. Her father’s death left her family with no funds to pay back the school., To make matters worse, the school wouldn’t let her set up a payment plan, or give the student her transcripts to transfer somewhere more affordable. Gendelman described the situation as a “Catch-22.” 

Through a loan and negotiations with the school managed by the association, the student was able to pay the school a lower price, and get her transcripts to finish her degree at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It was just a real situation where they felt like there was no hope. She was working three jobs, just trying to help her mom pay the bills, and was never going to be able to go back to school and finish her degree. And so we were able to make a real difference,” Gendelman said. The student is now a teacher, and is able to help support her family as well.  

More recently, Gendelman recalled loaning a young refugee the money she needed to obtain a visa that would keep her from being deported back to Ukraine.

Gendelman is currently mentoring Goldstein Koenig, who began working at the organization this September, until Gendelman finishes out her tenure at the end of this year.

Goldstein Koenig came to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University as an undergraduate, where she pursued her passion for social justice through her coursework and involvement with local Jewish organizations. In 2017, she began her career as the outreach and teen philanthropy coordinator at Milwaukee Jewish Federation, before leaving in 2020 to work at Hillel Milwaukee, where she remained until joining the Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association.

Goldstein Koenig comes from a family with a history of making loans. Goldstein Koenig’s grandmother, a Holocaust refugee, once loaned her own money to a struggling kosher caterer, in addition to managing the loans distributed through her synagogue in Denver.  

Goldstein Koenig said she’s honored to take on her new leadership role within the Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association. “It’s one of the most incredible organizations that we have in the Jewish community, and one with so much potential for growth, both of our donor base, but also in our outreach,” she said.

As executive director, Goldstein Koenig plans to focus on growing the organization, and its impact on those both inside and outside the Jewish community.

“I know that the free loan is going to be in good hands, so I’m really excited,” Gendelman said.  

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Are you eligible for a loan? 

Loan recipients must meet the following criteria: 

  • At least 18 years old 

  • Resident of Southeastern Wisconsin 

  • Have sufficient income to repay the loan 

  • Have loan guarantor 

Visit for more information. 


Dear MJFLA Community,

As previously announced in April, after founding MJFLA and leading the organization for 15 meaningful years, I have decided to retire from my position as executive director at the end of 2023. [READ THAT ANNOUNCEMENT BELOW]


Today, I am thrilled to announce a new chapter in MJFLA’s journey with the appointment of our new executive director, Anna Goldstein Koenig. With experience as both an assistant director and interim executive director, and a proven track record of leadership, outreach, and a commitment to excellence, Anna is poised to guide MJFLA into a future filled with innovation, growth, and continued success.


Anna brings with her not only a passion for social justice and making a positive impact on the lives of others, but also a family history of making interest-free loans dating back to her grandmother, a Holocaust refugee who came to the U.S. when she was eight years old. Anna’s dedication to our mission makes her an exceptional fit to lead our organization and will undoubtedly propel MJFLA to even greater heights.


Thank you to Sarah Platt, our board president, for your guidance and leadership throughout this process, and to the MJFLA Succession Planning Committee: Eileen Graves, Marlene Lauwasser, Jamie Miller, and David Wyatt. Both Anna and I are looking forward to working together over the coming months to effectuate a seamless transition for the organization!


Please join us to welcome Anna in person and learn more about her vision for our shared future at MJFLA’s 14th Annual Movie Night fundraiser, honoring Marlene Lauwasser, on October 14, 2023. We are confident that, under her direction, MJFLA will continue to thrive and make a meaningful impact in the Greater Milwaukee community. With your support and Anna’s leadership, MJFLA will undoubtedly go from strength to strength!


With gratitude,

Ginny Gendelman

MJFLA Executive Director

Dear MJFLA Community,

As we reach the 15 year mark, Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association is growing and helping more people than ever! With new funds that empower people to become homeowners and to repair homes and make them more energy efficient, more funds to empower families to grow through adoption and other means, more funds for students to get an education, and larger funds to make it possible for employers to empower their employees to become financially stable, it is an exciting time!
With all of this excitement, it is time to bring on a passionate, skilled, and energetic executive to become my successor and take the lead in running this important community resource. After 15 rewarding years of leading MJFLA, I have decided to retire from my position as executive director sometime around the end of 2023. Rest assured that I will not be leaving MJFLA until we identify and onboard the next capable leader of this strong and thriving organization. We are planning for a smooth overlap to transfer knowledge and equip the next executive director to succeed. The MJFLA board, under the leadership of our president, Sarah Platt, has convened a search committee and we are committed to finding a caring and community-minded leader to take the baton after a sufficient transition period. This has not been an easy decision, as I founded this organization in 2009 and I have found immense joy and purpose working with the many dedicated members of our boards of directors and our development director, Felicia Miller, to serve the individuals, families, and employers of Southern and Southeastern Wisconsin to improve lives every day.

Since making the first interest-free loan in 2009, MJFLA has grown exponentially, but remains focused on a single mission - making interest-free loans to help people with temporary financial needs. To date, over $1,746,000 has been loaned, and those funds continue to be recycled into new loans, as MJFLA maintains a 99.6% repayment rate. We began with emergency and personal loans, and loans to help people avoid or escape predatory payday lenders. Over time, we added student and employee loan programs, as well as loans to help families grow. Most recently, we have partnered with Acts Housing to empower low-income families to improve their credit and qualify for mortgages so they can become homeowners, break the cycle of poverty, and begin to establish generational wealth. I could not be more proud and humbled. All of this - the immense impact MJFLA has had on the people of our community - would not have been possible without all of you, our donors. I will be forever grateful.

As we work harder than ever this year to continue empowering people in our community to improve their lives, I hope you will continue to empower MJFLA with your support. MJFLA's spring challenge appeal will be in the mail to you soon and we have a generous donor that will match every gift, up to $25,000, received by June 30!  Also, I hope you will save-the-date and attend MJFLA's 14th Annual Movie Night on October 14, so that I can thank you in person!


Ginny Gendelman
MJFLA Executive Director


MJFLA is now able to run all "soft pull" credit reports, which is fantastic for our clients and their guarantors!  What Is a Soft Credit Check or "soft pull"?  A soft credit check is an inquiry into your credit report initiated either by you or a company. It can occur even if you didn’t apply for credit and is primarily used to screen for preapproval financing offer or background check. The good news is that a soft inquiry does not affect your all-important credit score, which is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness intended to help creditors determine the likelihood of being paid back if they extend credit to you. [click here for more information


To communicate with MJFLA via text messaging you can now text OPT-IN to 414-961-1500 to enable MJFLA to text with you.  Also, by submitting any MJFLA application or donation form, calling 414-961-1500, emailing, or using the website chat to contact MJFLA, you will automatically opt-in to receive sms messages from MJFLA. You may choose to opt out by replying STOP to unsubscribe at any time.


MJFLA is working with new community partner, Acts Housing, to help people reduce their debt-to-income ratio and improve their credit score so they can qualify for a mortgage and become homeowners. This empowers people in our community to escape the cycle of poverty and begin to build generational wealth.  Visit this page for more information.

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