Ilia, the president and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, died today of cancer.
Ilia worked until the very last moment and, as late as last week, he was in contact with us about post-pandemic ideas. He bore his illness with stoicism and grace. To the end, he was unassumingly heroic and generous, never surrendering to self-pity or pessimism. He kept his illness quiet because he didn’t want this to define him.
A beloved friend and supporter of JFN, Ilia was always ready and eager to help, always advocating for us, and always an example of the type of philanthropy we promote: strategic, kind, mentschy and collaborative.
Community was Ilia's life’s work. He wanted everybody to discover what he had discovered: that there’s joy and depth in being Jewish, even if you grew up far away from our tradition. That search for community animated his work at the helm of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which became, under his leadership, a strong force for good. In his work, he married the rigor of the engineer to the passion of the activist, and he covered it all with a layer of kindness and good humor.
After graduating from Moscow State University, Ilia started his career in academia before moving into philanthropy, ultimately joining Genesis Philanthropy Group, where he led a significant and highly regarded expansion of the foundation’s work. His leadership touched the lives of countless people across three continents, inspiring the young and supporting the most vulnerable among us.lia is survived by his wife, Irina, his two sons, Joshua and Robert and his father, Mikhail.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Jewish Studies Department at Ilia's alma mater, Moscow State University (MSU). Checks should be made payable to Jewish Funders Network, with a memo saying “Ilia Salita Memorial Fund.”
May Ilia's family and all those who loved him be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.