Youngstown Area Jewish Federation is the umbrella organization overseeing our local agencies, namely the Jewish Community Center, Heritage Manor, Levy Gardens, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Jewish Family Services. Together we’ve created a vibrant community that offers much. But we’re continuously looking for ways to improve.
Professional staff development is critical for that to happen. To that end, four Federation staff members recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to learn alongside fellow Federation professionals. Lisa Long, financial resource development director; Elise Skolnick, director of communications; Leann Rich, marketing manager; and I spent three days with other Federation professionals at FedPro, Jewish Federation of North America’s annual conference. We immersed ourselves in learning more about integrated philanthropy. Integrated philanthropy is an approach that places a person at the center of Federation’s work.
At the conference, we learned from the professional presenters, professionals from other Federations, and each other.
Eric Fingerhut, new JFNA president and CEO, and former U.S. congressman from Ohio, closed the conference with a speech that resonated with me. He talked about the critical issues we all face as an organization:
Teamwork: The work is, of course, too much for one person. Trying to do it all yourself wears you out and frustrates others.
Innovate: There may be a better way to do something.
Talent: Hire good, honest, learned people, and provide them with the proper training.
Strategy: We need to plan for what needs to be accomplished.
Impact: We need to know if what we’re doing is working, and adjust accordingly.
This conference helped us to look more deeply at these issues. We do this work every day, but sometimes we need to step back and take a more global look at what we’re doing.
At the same time the four of us were in Washington, Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Federation director of community relations/government affairs, was also in Washington at the JCPA (Jewish Council for Public Affairs) conference. That group delved into such important topics as antisemitism, gun violence, Israel, and more.
As Eric pointed out, our story is so rich and so powerful. We’ve built a flourishing Jewish community, one that’s safe, healthy, inclusive, and caring. We didn’t do it alone, of course. Other Jewish organizations and community partners helped, and will continue to help.
But there is more work to be done. Federation is constantly evolving to fit Agency and community needs. The recent hiring of Leann Rich as our Federation-wide marketing manager and our most recent hiring of Nicholas (Nic) Bush as development & community relations manager is part of that effort. And a deeper dive into integrated philanthropy is part of that, too. Donors and community members matter, and so do their stories. We want to be sure their legacies are built upon.
Executive Vice-President, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation