With a long history and a valued legacy of dedicated and quality leadership, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, for over 100 years, has been adapting to and addressing the changing needs of the Jewish community.
Today, it is further addressing the increased competitiveness of the philanthropic environment and has recently taken several steps to increase its organizational effectiveness and efficiency. In addition to these steps, Federation consid-ers its ability to attract the area's best leaders essential to its meeting the growing needs of Jews, both locally and abroad.
With both its history and the future of the Jewish community in mind, Federation created a multi-faceted leadership development program that is designed to not only provide entry points into our community for up-and-coming leaders but also offer high-level programming to recruit some of the most influential and strong communal leaders.
This three-year, high-level $1,500,000 pilot program has been designed with input from Federation's Leadership Development Advisory Committee chaired by Betsy R. Sheerr, and with strong support from Mark Fishman, Margie Honickman, Jay Minkoff, Gail Norry and Jeffrey Schwartz. The committee worked diligently for over a year to build a foundation and provide a blueprint for the program. To date, over $1,200,000 has been raised to fund this initiative thanks to a significant lead gift from a long-time community leader and other supporters.
The Leadership Development Program, which was launched this fall, has been under development since the initiation of Federation's 2003 Strategic Philanthropy plan, which emphasizes the importance of not only retaining current leadership, but being "inviting and attractive" to new leaders — an essential quality for a community organization, explained Rob Meyer, Federation's director of Leadership Development.
"Leadership development means attracting leaders who can play key roles in strengthening our community today and in planning for its success tomorrow," said Ira M. Schwartz, Federation's president. "The program is a planned initiative to provide leadership opportunities for the many well-respected business leaders, community leaders and philanthropists in our community."
"Like any leadership development program designed for corporate or community use, our program is actively seeking the best, the brightest, and the most talented leaders that can influence, motivate, and inspire people to join with them in helping our community develop and positively transform," said Meyer.
"This is a program with substance that will provide real leadership opportunities that can benefit the individuals, Federation, and the Jewish community," said Betsy R. Sheerr, Federation board member and chair of its Leadership Development Advisory Committee.
"Recruiting is very important. If we are going to build strong leadership … something Federation has to improve upon … we have to be able to attract the best people that can fit the bill. We must be competitive," said Mark Fishman, member of the Leadership Development Advisory Committee.
"Leadership development is an exciting opportunity for Federation," added Gail Norry, Federation board member and president of its Women's Philanthropy Division. "People need the opportunity to utilize their leadership skills and to learn more about effective leadership practices, and the needs of our community and Jews around the world."
The leadership educational programs are being carefully crafted and take into account both the needs of the community and the high level of leadership experience of the participants. In addition to benefiting from modern educational tools and leadership concepts, the proven techniques and skills from the participants themselves will be of great importance and value to Federation and the Jewish community.
"We also consulted with some of the best thinkers and experts in the area, including the Wexner Heritage Foundation," noted Sheerr. The New York-based foundation is nationally recognized for its advanced leadership curriculum for Jewish community leaders.
"The educational programs are not limited to the history of Federation or its system but grounded in advanced leadership concepts and decision-making," Sheerr explained. "We are assuming that the people participating in the program are established and well-respected leaders in their respective fields and our program is designed to match the level of the participant."
"It will not be as time-intensive as other programs as we recognize that community leaders have to juggle their time among other important commitments; the programs will be focused and relevant to the leadership level and needs," said Sheerr.
Federation's Women's Philanthropy Division started its leadership recruiting efforts this summer and with 27 participants began its part of the program on Oct. 24. "I was amazed at the responses I received when I called people this summer," said Norry. "No one turned me down."
"It was really gratifying to hear the response and the buy-in on helping the community," she noted. "Many of the participants talked about giving back to the community by getting involved but were not sure how to proceed."
"The Leadership Development Program is designed to attract established as well as emerging business leaders who can comfortably approach other leaders within the community to participate and become involved," said Jay Minkoff, Federation trustee and co-chair of its annual campaign.
"We hope that our program will be the beginnings of a permanent pipeline for leadership for our community," added Sheerr. "Major stakeholders in the Jewish community will have input. We will be planful and inclusive, aiming to prepare the best leaders today and in the future, and truly transform our community."
For more information, call Rob Meyer at 215-832-0585.
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Leadership Development Advisory Committee
Betsy R. Sheerr, Chair
Sol Daiches (deceased)