Amy Krulik announced Feb. 9 that she is leaving her position as CEO of the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood to become executive director of nearby Main Line Reform Temple.
Krulik, who’s been at the JCC on and off since 1997, said she’ll stay on at the JCC until close to Passover to ensure an orderly transition.
She stressed that her decision to leave the JCC reflected her excitement for MLRT, and not dissatisfaction with her current employer. She said some of the highs of her tenure include staff participating in a highly selective leadership development program, J-Ball Basketball boasting robust participation and strong camaraderie among staff and members.
But there have been challenges too. Fallout from a leaky pool roof led to a steep drop in membership, and Krulik was at the helm throughout the pandemic. In the span of a few months last spring, the JCC whiplashed from closure and furloughs of nearly the entire staff to the rehiring of most of that staff after securing a Payroll Protection Program loan.
And then preparations for summer camp had to begin.
As hard as the last year has been, though, the efforts to remain open were a reminder of what Krulik loved about her job — thinking about community fundamentals and the best way to get people what they needed.
Krulik announced her departure in an email to members on Feb. 9, writing that her last four years working with the staff have “been nothing short of remarkable.”
“I am eternally grateful for the faith and trust that you have placed in me,” Krulik wrote. “The JCC has always and will always have a special place in my heart.”
Cindy Smukler, president of the JCC’s board of directors and a longtime friend of Krulik’s, said she was disappointed that the JCC would be losing her, but understood that MLRT represented “a wonderful opportunity.”
“Amy has accomplished much over the past four years as the CEO of the Kaiserman JCC,” Smukler said. “We will miss her leadership and her talent. With that being said, we are excited about this new opportunity and hope to replace her talent.”
An interim CEO hasn’t been named.
In 1997, Krulik was hired as the director of communications and cultural arts at the JCC, and then transitioned to a role as membership director and site director until 2003. The Krulik family became deeply enmeshed there. As she told the Jewish Exponent in 2017, her children attended camp, preschool and after-school programs at the JCC.
From 2003 and 2016, Krulik held leadership roles at the Jewish Relief Agency, Colonial Plantation and JCCs of Greater Philadelphia, returning to the JCC as CEO in 2017.
Joel H. Ginsparg, president of the board of trustees at MLRT, said a search committee scoured the nation for candidates when the synagogue’s last executive director, Janet Lee, resigned around the High Holidays in 2020. MLRT considered at least 30 candidates from across the country, conducting interviews by Zoom. In the end, the search committee settled on Krulik, who was already familiar with the synagogue’s people, history and culture.
“She just happened to be the cream of the crop,” Ginsparg said. “She was the person that really stood out as we went through and completed the process, which is why we’re thrilled and excited that she’s joining us.”
When Krulik was contacted by the search committee, she was immediately intrigued. In the last year, Krulik said, she found herself leaning more heavily on Jewish ethical study and Jewish spiritual connection than she ever anticipated. So when MLRT offered her the opportunity to marry her professional life with that newfound connection to religion, Krulik was thrilled
“I’m excited to focus Jewishly on things, on Jewish practice and Jewish spirituality in our community,” she said.
At MLRT, Krulik will be asked to take on a dual role requiring her to fundraise while running a complex operation that has a large congregation, a religious school and an early childhood education program.
There will be plenty of changes: In addition to focusing more on religious engagement, Krulik joked that she expected to see far fewer naked gym-goers, preschool students and campers
“I’m proud,” she said laughingly of her JCC tenure, “that we have created a comfortable and respectful environment for people when they’re at their least clothed.”