Striving for excellence

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor]

Your Jewish Community Center strives toward excellence, and that means listening to your comments and responding to your needs. In pursuit of that goal, the agency participates in the national Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA) Benchmarking Program.

The Benchmarking program surveys members, users and staff, compiles the results, and provides each participating JCC with a statistical assessment of how it is doing compared to its own performance in preceding years and to other JCCs of similar size that are also participating, Your feedback is critical to the JCC, and the staff is grateful to all who participated in the survey last fall that was used to generate this year’s results.

A consultant, provided by JCCA, also works with each participating community to ensure that the JCC’s professional staff and Board understand the results and to help develop meaningful next steps based on the data.

Dori Denelle is Louisville’s JCCA consultant, and this is the second year this community has participated in the program. Denelle was in Louisville to present the results at the April 29 Board meeting.

The core businesses on which all JCCs are evaluated are Camp, Early Childhood Education and Fitness. Denelle said JCCA is considering including a fourth core business, fundraising, in its benchmarking process in the future.

Louisville’s JCC showed an increase in the number of people who rate the fitness staff as outstanding and noted that the number of group exercise and personal training sessions doubled over the year, putting Louisville at the top profitability level in its peer group this year.

User ratings of the Early Childhood Education staff also rose, Denelle reported, reflecting the facts that Louisville created a task force of experts in the early childhood field to address a variety of issues including providing staff with more in-service training.

The Discover CATCH curriculum is currently being implemented (see story from the May 24 edition of Community, available at “We are committed to offering a high quality preschool program that will help provide a unique experience for our children and families,” said JCC COO Sara Wagner. “We are so grateful to the family of Jay Levine (z”l) for making this possible.”

Louisville, Denelle explained, did well in profitability and Jewish impact, its business model and revenue are stable and it is doing well in the areas of liquidity and sustainability. Of particular note, Denelle said, is the addition of a grant writer who has brought new revenue to the organization, enabling it to add amenities like the popular Sportwall and additional transportation for seniors.

Denelle also reported that Louisville showed improvement across the board over its results the prior year; and that reflects a real commitment to the benchmarking process. While most JCC’s show some improvement in some areas, very few show improvement in every area. While the improvement Louisville has made is good, there is a lot more that can be done in many areas.

The many changes the JCC has implemented over the past year are reflected in the positive way staff and members are talking about the agency. She encouraged board members and staff to continue telling the JCC’s story and to be ambassadors in the community.

More people came into the JCC for tours this year than last. Denelle spent part of her time working with the membership department, helping them hone their skills.

The JCC’s Jewish impact is improving, too, Denelle noted. Members have a greater appreciation for Jewish values, feel more connected and have a greater understanding of Israel.

The improvement the Louisville JCC has shown, Denelle concluded, demonstrates a commitment to take the benchmarking seriously and to strive to make the Center the best agency it can be. Going forward, she said, the Board and administration must continue its commitment to improve, and they should expect the total transformation process to take up to five years.

Specific goals for the new fiscal year are being developed now. The JCC will participate in the benchmarking process again next fall. The staff encourages everyone to take the surveys so the agency can listen to your opinions and respond to your suggestions.

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