Who Will You Nominate?

Mandel Foundation Announces Executive Leadership Program for Federations and JCCs

By Ted Sasson

This week, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation opened recruitment for an executive leadership program for midcareer Jewish community center and Jewish federation professionals. The program’s aim is to expand the executive leadership pipeline and improve the capacity of rising leaders to address the challenges and opportunities in their environment.

The Executive Leadership Program builds upon the Foundation’s decades-long support of JCCs and federations. As continent-wide networks with a pluralistic mission, JCCs and federations serve the Jewish community as a whole, across its myriad divisions. In an age of increasing diversity and mistrust between different segments of the community, these institutions have the potential to promote a strong communal framework for Jewish life, advance communal purposes, and build strategies to adapt to rapidly changing organizational, communal and social circumstances.

The Executive Leadership Program is designed for outstanding JCC and federation professionals who are on track for executive leadership positions in organizations of any size, or senior leadership positions in large organizations. The program’s focus on midcareer professionals reflects the Foundation’s commitment to cultivating future leadership. Strong candidates will have demonstrated an ability to lead, high ethical standards, creativity, intellectual capacity, and a passion for Jewish communal life.

The 16-month program will emphasize cohort learning during three five-day seminars in Boston and an eight-day seminar in Israel. The program faculty, comprised of senior practitioners, scholars of Jewish studies, the social sciences and nonprofit leadership, rabbis and educators, will accompany the fellows throughout the program. The seminars will examine the major opportunities and challenges facing Jewish organizations through three curricular lenses:

  • Contemporary Jewish Life: Fellows will analyze organizational and communal challenges in relation to broader social, cultural and demographic trends.
  • Visions and Values: Fellows will examine alternative conceptions of Jewish purposes and competing visions of the Jewish community at its best.
  • Leadership and Nonprofit management: Fellows will craft strategies and sharpen skills for organizational and communal change.

The seminars will challenge Fellows to grapple with real communal and organizational problems while strengthening critical leadership skills to analyze, envision and implement. Such skills are essential to leadership effectiveness across a multitude of contexts, and we believe that they are relevant for addressing the immediate challenges our communities and organizations face.

During the seminars and in between, through online learning, Fellows will have opportunities to sharpen their skills in critical areas of nonprofit management, including marketing, financial management, human resource management, strategic planning, fundraising and evaluation.

As rising leaders, Fellows need support to address individual challenges as they unfold within their organizations and during career transitions. Alongside cohort learning, the Executive Leadership Program will provide a framework for individual mentoring. In contrast to the program faculty, who offer expertise within particular disciplinary fields, program mentors will be executives and former executives of large nonprofit organizations – mostly Federations and JCCs.

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation covers all program and transportation costs. Sponsoring organizations are asked to provide release time for participation in the Boston and Israel seminars.

This week, federation and JCC executives were invited to nominate one or two members of their professional staff as candidates for the program. Applications to the program will be by invitation-only.

Ted Sasson is Director of Programs, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.