I am honored to accept the invitation you extended me to lead your Federation as CEO.
As I began to investigate this opportunity I spoke to my colleagues and friends around the country. They have been extremely supportive, mentioning dynamic Minneapolis community members I should meet—rabbis, lay leaders, former National Young Leadership chairs. It is clear to me from these notes of support that the success of the Minneapolis Jewish community is nationally recognized.
I have been impressed by the spirit of TOGETHER WE guiding the Minneapolis Federation. In my view, uniting donors, volunteers, agencies, synagogues, and lay and professional leaders to move Minneapolis forward is attractive and wise. I am excited to learn from members of the community why Minneapolis has been successful and how to make the future even more so.
My own Jewish communal path started in 1999, when my family lived in Michigan while I worked for Ford Motor Company. My oldest daughter Skylar was in pre-school at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor. When the executive learned of my business degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, she asked me to help out on finance committee. “Don’t worry,” she said, “It won’t take that much time.”
As it goes, a seat on the finance committee turned into a board of directors position, then treasurer, and yes, it did take up more time than I had anticipated. Soon, though, I realized that my volunteer work was more meaningful and enjoyable than what I was doing Monday through Friday. This realization pushed me to pursue a career in Jewish communal service, which led me to the Jewish Community of Louisville, an integrated agency composed of a Federation and JCC, where I served as CEO for the past five years.
I wrote before about the messages of support I received when I announced my new position. One of those messages was from my middle school daughter, Rachel. We knew this move would uproot her from her close circle of friends in Louisville. Nonetheless she told me, between the occasional tear, “This sounds like a really great opportunity for you, Dad, and I don’t want to be any part of the reason you wouldn’t think of taking it.”
Her statement is the root of why I do what I do. My daughter—a member of the next generation of Jews—is willing to make sacrifices when a new opportunity to make an impact arises. She became a bat mitzvah earlier this summer and I know she understands the importance of Judaism in our lives and the lives of others. Her sister Skylar feels the same; she attended the BBYO international convention in February and became closer to Jews from around the world, learning their unique stories. She became a confirm this past Shavuot.
My wife Alison and I are raising two future active Jewish community members. Together, we are all creating a generation of young Jews who value their community, in turn supporting and powering the agencies and organizations that will provide Jewish experiences for years to come.
I greatly look forward to leading this Federation in continuing to do important and life-changing work here in Minneapolis and around the world. From what I hear, the weather is cold but the people are warm and I’m thrilled to experience both.
P.S. Your ears may have perked up when you noticed that I worked for Ford Motor Company. I get some nachas (pride) when I think of Henry Ford, a known anti-Semite, turning over in his grave because his company’s great leadership programs turned out a Jewish communal leader.