JCL Update | JUNE 28, 2013

JCL Update | JUNE 28, 2013

[by Stu Silberman, President and CEO, Jewish Community of Louisville]

The June JCL Board of Directors meeting was the first for Tom Wissinger, the JCC’s new Sr. Director of Membership and Wellness. What better way for him to be introduced to the board then to hear several directors comment on the professionalism and knowledge of members of our wellness team, by name.

On the erev of my three-year anniversary at the JCL, I reflected for a moment on one of the greatest accomplishments of our agency during that time – the building of a world-class staff with the know-how and passion to help us fulfill our mission. Our caring, dedicated team members don’t just run an agency, they make it feel like a family. The camaraderie is evident when problems arise and are quickly addressed in a manner that places the needs of the members and donors first.

The culture change is evident as well, when new initiatives, such as our one-entry, one-exit security policy are embraced, rather than challenged. When, while discussing serious matters such as the JCL’s financial-wellbeing in our monthly operations reviews, we can also inject humor into the dialog, resulting in the lightening of a previously austere meeting into a collective effort that informs and benefits all. When planning Federation Campaign events, we test the bounds of prior thinking, often extending them to include all kinds of events, ranging from Jews and Bourbon to Jews and Guns to Jews and Comic Books.

We are in the business of experiences. When you interact with the JCL, whether through programming or philanthropy, you experience us, and through us, we hope, the Jewish values and heritage we are seeking to impart. When you conclude your experience with us, you don’t take home a mass-produced product, you have your memories, your emotions, and perhaps some inspiration to plan the next experience. This is our business model, and all of our planning and implementation over the past three years has been completed with you, and your experiences, in mind.

It’s a balancing act. Let’s face it – you are demanding customers. You want the best for your children, your parents and yourselves. You want a facility that’s welcoming. You want the knowledge that your financial support is stewarded with the highest accountability to ensure we positively impact the lives of as many as possible. And you want to know we are fiscally sound, so that we will be able to continue operating our agency for generations to come.

We want all that, too, and delivering it all means constant adjustment. Are we delivering it for you? In the next few months, we will be asking you through an online survey. We need your email address to do this, so please note the data collection effort we have underway to validate existing emails and collect new ones. Data-driven decisions are the best kind, and we are constantly working to improve our data and our decisions.

Meanwhile, as we wrap up this fiscal year, I’d like to give you some data to help you make your own informed decisions:


  • The community is responding to our efforts. Membership is up. Federation Annual Campaign is up. Program participation is up. The JCC is bustling with activity. The buzz is hugely positive.
  • Our financial performance is very close to what we expected. Details will be presented in our annual report after we close the books on fiscal 2013 later this fall, and the bottom line is we have made great strides in reversing large annual deficits and are now operating close to long-term financial sustainability. In a year or two we should be totally there.
  • Our professional team is built. While we will continue to experience normal turnover, the leadership is in place, empowered, accountable and high-performing. New team members are selected based on their cultural fit as well as their professional background. We are the JCL. Anyone who wants to be part of our team is being provided an opportunity to join an organization receiving national recognition through both the Federation and JCC movements, and is selected based on our assessment of their abilities to meet very high expectations.
  • Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, our standing committees are all functioning with chairs who understand our vision and are helping us achieve it. Our Program Cabinet has reviewed our benchmarking results and established objectives for this coming fiscal year. Our Financial Resource Development Committee has worked with us to formulate philanthropic strategies covering Annual Campaign, planned giving, grants, sponsorships and other fundraising events.


With the proper staffing model and the results they continue to deliver every day, we can now turn our attention to even larger aspirational objectives – strengthening Louisville’s Jewish ecosystem – our congregations, schools and other agencies, through additional collaborative efforts, both within our community and with Louisville’s broader community.

Keep watching this space – there are more great things to come.

Leave a Reply