[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
David Kaplan and Jennifer Leibson will co-chair the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Community of Louisville’s 2011 Annual Campaign. They are excited about the possibilities and glad to be working with each other.
“There are numerous generous young people,” Leibson said, who understand and support the Campaign, “but there are a whole lot who are not involved in any aspect of the Campaign. These may be people who come to events and don’t even realize that they are funded by the Campaign. For example, they may come to an event held at the JCC and assume that since they are members, their dues pay for it. That’s not necessarily true.
“I’d like a lot of people to become involved, even if it’s at the $25 level,” she continued. “It’s important to be involved and feel like you’re part of the Campaign” and the community.
“Finding ways to make the Annual Campaign more relevant to YAD and the entire community” is important to Kaplan, and he is counting on the Campaign leadership to make that happen. “I want to make sure the members of the Campaign Cabinet are actively involved and aware of all the programming the Campaign supports so they can better communicate that to donors.” The Campaign Cabinet is in formation now.
Giving to the Campaign means giving back to the community, Leibson added, but it is also wonderful because of the good it does internationally. “Many people don’t realize it goes way beyond the city of Louisville,” she said.
“We’re putting together a really great cabinet,” Kaplan stated, “made up of people who have a lot of passion and energy to support the community. I’m especially motivated this year to work with my fellow cabinet members to grow the Campaign and spread the message about the critical services that the Jewish Community of Louisville provides. I want to be a part of this year of change, assisting new CEO Stu Silberman and new Board Chair David Klein, with a renewed sense of purpose and possibilities in our community.”
“I was hesitant to agree to co-chair YAD,” Leibson said, “and I said I would only do it with a co-chair I trusted. When David’s name was mentioned, I said I would love to work with him. We’ve already started to work and communicate. It’s nice to have someone where the sense of responsibility is truly shared.”
Kaplan was equally appreciative of the opportunity to work with Leibson. “When I heard Jenn would be co-chair, that locked in my decision to participate,” he said. “She’s a long-time, valuable volunteer in the community, and I know we will accomplish great things and have a lot of fun together.”
As they begin their work, Leibson and Kaplan are looking at the kinds of programs YAD members have enjoyed in the past, and working to create new events this year that will attract people in this age group.
One area Leibson would like to address is, “a lack of interfaith programming for married couples. There’s plenty of that on the Christian side, but we offer none of that.
“Judaism can be intimidating to outsiders,” she continued. “Not only is there a language issue, there’s also a cultural issue. It’s not just about what happens in a synagogue; it’s about what happens in your home.” She’d like to create some opportunities for couples to have fun and learn about their different and shared traditions.
She’s also hoping to have more adult-centered programs. “I think there is room to grow in that area,” she said, “and it’s OK for parents to leave the kids at home with a babysitter and come out and have fun. … Jewish children bond at camp and in Hebrew School. Their parents need the opportunity to bond on their own as well.”
Leibson received the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Federation in 2006 for her work for social justice and her dedication to tikkun olam, the repair of the world.
A Louisville native, Leibson is an adjunct professor in the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law and a prosecutor in the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office’s Domestic Violence Unit. She also worked several years as division chief of the Mental Inquest and Disability Division for that office.
She received her BA, cum laude, from the University of Cincinnati, and her MA from Miami University (Ohio), both in French; and her Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law. At Dayton, she received a Presidential Scholarship, was on the National Moot Court Team, received the Best Brief Award, and served as president of the Jewish Law Society.
Her passion for social justice is evident in her volunteer activities as well as her professional responsibilities.
She is a member of the Jewish Com-munity Relations Council, its Executive Committee, and the Housing and Legis-lative Subcommittees. She also served on the Federation’s Council on Aging.
Leibson also works to prevent elder abuse in our community. She chairs the Louisville Metro Elder Abuse Services Coordinating Committee, a coalition of 29 local organizations, including the police, Adult Protective Services and both prosecutors’ offices. As an outgrowth of that effort, helped start a Louisville Metro Fatality Review Committee, which looks into elder abuse cases resulting in death or serious injury.
Leibson’s concern for the homeless extends beyond issues facing the elderly. She served as chair and vice chair of Family Scholar House, formerly Project Women. She shepherded the organization through a $13 million building project to establish a facility and support program to provide housing to homeless women with children that takes care of them while they earn a baccalaureate degree. The organization is now preparing to move people into a second 54-unit facility near Spalding University.
In addition, Leibson is a past Board member of the Spina Bifida Association of Kentucky and continues to volunteer with them. She has also volunteered, on occasion, for Habitat for Humanity and the Coalition for the Homeless.
She is a graduate of the Federation’s Young Leadership Development program, participated in the YLD Mission to Israel in 2005, and served an internship on the Jewish Community Center Board. In 2006, she also helped with the Federation’s Annual Campaign and served on the Federation Board, helping guide its merger with the Jewish Community Center to form the JCL.
Leibson attends Congregation Adath Jeshurun.
She is married to Robert McIntosh.
For Kaplan, taking a leadership role with the Annual Campaign is not new. Shortly after coming to Louisville with his wife, Elizabeth, in 1997, the Kaplans became involved with the Jewish community and soon co-chaired Super Sunday. By agreeing to co-chair YAD this year, he is repeating the leadership role he played in the 2004 Campaign with Lori O’Koon.
In 2002, Kaplan also received the Julie E. Linker Community Relations Young Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Federation, and was an active member of the Jewish Community Relations Council and its Executive Committee and co-chaired CRC’s Emergency Israel Community Relations Committee. In 2005, he served as CRC Chair, a post he held for two years.
Kaplan has served on the Federation’s Board of Directors and co-chaired the Yachad Kadima Committee with Julie Ellis, Doug Gordon and Helene Kramer Longton, which did the groundwork that led to the establishment of the Jewish Community of Louisville through the merger of the Federation and the JCC. He is also a member of the JCL Board of Directors, and served on the Search Committee that selected Stu Silberman to be the JCL’s president and CEO.
He currently serves on the Board of Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare, and has served on the Boards of Four Courts Senior Center, the Cherokee Triangle Association and Kentucky’s Financial Literacy Foundation. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received his law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his Master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Professionally, he is a managing partner of the Louisville law office of Miller Wells PLLC. Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to the Kentucky House Speaker.
The Kaplans have two children, Nicki, 6, and Nate, 4. They are members of Temple Shalom.