SII: Please briefly describe your work:
IS: Since 2013 I have been the director of the Israeli National Insurance Funds which are five social services development funds, with an annual volume of 200 million NIS and about 30 subordinates. My duties include initiating strategies and partnerships, planning and development, monitoring and control, as well as measurement and evaluation of social programs in a variety of areas for at-risk populations. These populations include children and adults with disabilities, the elderly, at-risk children/youth and families in socio-economic distress.
These funds assist with financing, development, structuring, and professional accompaniment of projects run by local authorities, NGOs and private firms. As a central player in Israel’s social eco-system, the funds are especially attentive to innovative initiatives on the field, take a leadership role and are partner to innovative development processes.
SII: Name three principle values that you associate with your work?
IS: 1. Social sensitivity – I believe we must be accessible and open to the public we serve, as well as to non-governmental bodies that represent it. We do our best to be attentive to the challenges, hardships and atmosphere within society – particularly vulnerable sectors of the population. We are guided by a belief that we do not have all the answers, but rather that the defining of needs is a bottom-up process requiring humility and sensitivity.
2. Partnership – Generating deep and long-term social change requires partnership with all relevant parties. We cultivate partnerships with the understanding that they inevitably require a certain measure of compromise for the greater good.
3. Transparency and equality – Interacting with a broad spectrum of relevant communities and social organizations in Israel is an integral part of the funds’ activities. We make fund policy accessible, operate with full transparency toward the public and strive to apply to our various programs tools that are both objective and egalitarian.
SII: What particularly motivates you to make a difference?
SII: What positive impact do you see emerging through your activity?
SII: What is your favorite project?
SII: Where are you headed in the future?
SII: How Coronavirus fight impacted you?
IS: Recognizing the magnitude of the crisis and its potential damage to Israeli society, the National Insurance Funds quickly issued a special call to civil society organizations for proposals to support relevant social projects at a sum of up to NIS 100,000 per project. In view of the robust activities of our NGOs, we received more than 1,140 proposals as a result.
These proposals covered a broad range of fields: digital responses to isolation, equipment and operation of programs adapted to people with disabilities, at-risk youth, the elderly, vulnerable populations and more. While perhaps this unique crisis generated more need among the population than available budget to entirely meet it, I’m proud that we were able to allocate more than NIS 40 million within the framework of this initiative.
Beyond this, we reached out to all the programs that we support and asked they adapt their activities to the unique situation, including quick transfer of funds to projects carried out.
We are currently busy with finalizing approval and funding of more than 600 programs. Moving forward, I have no doubt that we are up to the challenge created by the coronavirus crisis.
More about Itzik Sabato:
Before taking up his current position in 2013, Sabato served as senior advisor to the director general of the National Insurance Institute (NII) where he was Chief of Risk Operations. His role focused on designing and developing a model of risk management appropriate to the NII.
His previous professional experience also includes interning for then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein. He also participated in the Koret-Milken Institute Fellows Program.
Sabato received his MPA/MC in Public Administration from Harvard University; his Master of Business Administration and Master of Laws are from Bar-Ilan University.