Executive Development and Succession Planning: A Growing Challenge for the American Jewish Community

The Jewish Funders Network and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies have just released a new study, Executive Development & Succession Planning: A Growing Challenge for the Jewish Community.

from the introduction:

The national Jewish community appears to be on the edge of a precipice. Within the next five to ten years, the baby boomers will retire and leave upwards of 75%-90% of Jewish community agencies with the challenge of finding new executive leadership. The field of Jewish communal service is vastly different today from the post-Holocaust creation of the State of Israel when hundreds of young Jews decided to dedicate their professional lives to the Jewish community. When this reality is combined with the rapid technological advances, the professionalization of the field, the increasing demands of community executives and the rapidly changing needs and culture of the Jewish community, the challenges are monumental and uncharted.

This study was designed to respond to this crisis, namely, finding future professional leadership and preparing them to meet the changing realities of our Jewish communities.

Leadership succession has become a topic of national concern to lay leaders and national organizations alike. The competition for talent has intensified to such an extent that some of our “best and brightest” are forced to re-evaluate their commitments to Jewish communal work based on the high cost of Jewish family life and the problematic working conditions reflected in Jewish communal organizations.

This environmental scan of national and local Jewish communal organizations had three objectives:

  • Develop a national profile of continuing professional education programs;
  • Develop a national profile of the capacities of national and local organizations for supporting the development of mid-career professionals who have been in practice for approximately 10 years and are in the age cohort of roughly 35-45; and
  • Develop a set of recommendations related to strategies for identifying the needs/interests of the target population, identifying promising mid-career training programs in other related fields, and promising training/coaching strategies.

While the original purpose of the study was to develop recommendations for the design of a national program of professional development for mid-level managers in nonprofit Jewish communal organizations, the training of mid-level managers is just one aspect of the work ahead. This study revealed three challenges:

  • Identifying the visionaries within the Jewish community with the capacity to carry out and guide change (and how to best prepare them);
  • Acknowledging that there is not a sufficient talent pipeline within the Jewish community and the need to bring in and train stars from other fields; and
  • Addressing the current environment found in Jewish communal agencies specifically looking at work/life balance and lay/staff relations that are contributing to the loss of talented Jewish communal professionals from the organizations most in need of their leadership.

Here’s the complete study, Executive Development & Succession Planning