This past Monday night, Federation held its 91st Annual Meeting. It was a festive evening as we celebrated the leadership of Gersham Goldstein, who concluded his term as Chairman of the Board, and welcomed Michael Weiner as our new Chairman. We thanked our outgoing Board members – Josh Blank, Bob Philip, Marshal Spector, and Sharon Weil – while installing Kathy Davis-Weiner, Shawn Menashe, Kim Rosenberg, Mindy Zeitzer, and Charlene Zidell as new Board members.
Beyond the standard business, we also had the pleasure of announcing the winner of the Next Great Jewish Idea contest. We were overwhelmed by the 106 incredible entries from people across the Greater Portland area. Congratulations to Cheryl Tonkin for her wonderful Food for Thought Festival idea. Please click here to learn more about this exciting concept.
In addition, Charlene Zidell, Chair of our Community Impact Grants (CIG) Committee, announced the 13 winning program ideas. You will recall Federation set aside up to $300,000 for new, innovative impactful programs to strengthen our Jewish community. We received 66 proposals requesting over $3.5 million. After a challenging committee process, 13 projects were awarded grants in addition to funds appropriated for a third-party market study of the eastside. Please click here to see the full list and description for each.
Michael Weiner, our new Chairman of the Board, shared his excitement about his new role, Federation’s goal to create a more inclusive Jewish community, and made a commitment to meet the ever-evolving needs of our Jewish community.
Finally, I had the opportunity to share my own thoughts. Below is an abbreviated version.
It was exactly one year ago today that I had my first interview by phone with the Executive Search Committee here in Portland. And now, ten months after starting my job, I am so pleased and excited about where we are.
We continue to have a successful annual campaign – not quite finished – yet one that has withstood the challenges of a lingering recession.
We are on pace to increase our number of donors by 10%.
We have worked hard to increase communications to the community (whether my weekly email, use of the Jewish Review, or email blasts) about what Federation is and what Federation is doing in our community.
We have focused a great deal of attention on outreach to new populations and individuals.
Our Allocations Committee and Federation Board made difficult funding decisions that unfortunately reduced the allocations to many of our agencies. On the flip side, however, with our CIG process, more dollars went into the community as a whole – just in a different way.
In addition, Federation reduced its own budget by $150,000 to provide more resources for our community.
Federation continues to serve as the central convener in our community – we are now also serving as the lead catalyst for change – take both our Next Great Jewish Idea contest and our Community Impact Grants as examples.
Despite this, and I am not naïve, Federation has its challenges. Our role is less clear, and for many it is not clear at all. Federation does not resonate in the way we once did – especially with so many newcomers.
My belief is that for any organization to stay relevant it must be interesting, authentic and keep people engaged. This is not so simple. Our goal is to move from being an “organization” to being a “movement.” Creating a movement that is animated by passion, drama, and intensity. I truly believe this will not only increase revenues, but also attract people in their 20s and 30s.
This moment in Jewish history demands bold thinking with big ideas. This is not a time for staying the course. It is time to rethink Jewish life. And together we will create that future.
I look forward to working with Michael Weiner, the Governing Board, our agency partners led by talented volunteer and professional leaders, and the entire Jewish community on enhancing Jewish life for everyone.
Finally, I must give a special thank you to Gersham Goldstein, our now immediate past Chairman. Gersham, thank you for your leadership in the community and for your belief in me. You are an outstanding partner and I have thoroughly enjoyed working together. I also know that Gersham could not do this all alone. I also want to recognize his lovely wife Pauline for sharing Gersham with us.
Please click here for a brochure we shared at the Annual Meeting detailing the Community Impact Grant recipients, the Next Great Jewish Idea contest, and our allocations for the year.
Although this meeting happens only once a year, I look forward to sharing greater innovation and new initiatives in the years ahead.
Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Father's Day,