Sara Wagner Shares Update on JCL Progress, Plans

Sara Klein WagnerAt the Stronger Together Major Gifts Dinner, I shared some remarks that I also want to share with the entire community.

As I entered the room at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart and Lung Center, I saw it was filled with people I really admire and who have mentored me for many, many years. I also paused to note, I am in my current position because of the Louisville Jewish community.

I am a product of our JCC, Day Camp, Camp Livingston, Hebrew school and BBYO. I am grateful for the opportunities I had and those we continue to provide.

Thank you Leon Wahba for your leadership serving as Campaign chair and helping to make our community stronger. You’re doing a wonderful job. Thank you also to our donors, our volunteers and our staff.

Thank you to KentuckyOne/Jewish Hospital for hosting our Major Gifts event and to the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence for your incredible support of the Jewish community and specifically the Double Your Impact challenge. This challenge means that every new commitment and every increase over last year’s commitment will be matched up to $200,000.

As I mark my first six months as CEO, I am aware that this is a new opportunity and new day. I am grateful for the support, passion and wisdom those of you in this room have shared.

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about Joseph, a story filled with plot twists, jealousy, hunger and famine. Like Joseph, we Jews and our community have big dreams. As a people, we have experienced tragedies, triumphs, persecution and renaissance. Imagine what future generations will learn from our stories, decisions and choices.

What’s the story people will tell about us? What will the next generation say years from now? How will we write our story?

We have options and we have a great road ahead of us. I hope that when they look at us, they will find that we made good choices and good decisions, that we were inspiring and caring and that we celebrated each other’s success.

So exactly how are we approaching the future? It will be with a recipe of reflection, perspective and positive attitude. Our community needs to know we the Federation, can and will lead as conveners, who will listen and lead with a strong voice.

We recognize:

  • The world is changing quickly both in the Jewish community and around the globe for good and bad.
  • We need to embrace and respect diversity both here at home and in Israel. It is our responsibility to support religious pluralism in Israel.
  • We need to build and rebuild trust and we need to do it with the speed of light.

I am confident that our future is in good hands with our staff and with our volunteers, so I want to share three major steps with you that we’re currently undertaking on our road map for the future.

First, to improve our ability to make a financial impact, we have taken an important step forward with the addition of Stacy Gordon-Funk as our new vice president of philanthropy.

Second, we are building our master plan focusing on sustainability and transformational moments for engagement and our future facility. We are fortunate to have the strong leadership of our board led by board chair Jay Klempner.

Third, we are committed to building partnerships, collaboration and ensuring we have a very big tent open and welcoming to all. We’ve already starting working on a number of important partnerships:

  • KentuckyOne/Jewish Hospital. As Rabbi Nadia mentioned we’re working on partnerships with teens, hospital partnerships with the western Galilee and exploring collaboration with the hospital and the JCC in the areas of health and wellness.
  • Grinspoon Foundation. We have applied to be part of the Life and Legacy program that will benefit our congregations and agencies.
  • Muhammad Ali Center. We are entering a new partnership, bringing complementary current programs and creating new ones.
  • The Islamic Center. We are joining with our friends to resettle a Syrian refugee family in Louisville and working together on community service projects like the Project Warm blitz last weekend.
  • Representation on national boards. We are fortunate that many people at the Major Gifts events have served on the boards of national Jewish agencies in the past. Today, the next generation is stepping up. Jeff Tuvlin serves on the JCCA Board and its Executive Committee and Becky Swansburg on the JCPA Board.
  • JCCA pilot program. One result of having leaders on national boards is new opportunities for our community. It is likely that we will be a pilot community for an exciting new JCCA outreach program that will focus on the environment and Jewish experiential education.
  • Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. We are strengthening our partnership with JHFE. Our Executive Committees are meeting regularly to discuss where our goals and missions align and how we can find the best path forward together.

We will also focus on what we do best.

The JCC will celebrate the culmination of our 125th anniversary and celebrate the start of our next 125 on February 20. So please, plan on being there.

We will focus on leadership development, a new YAD ambassadors program, Israel engagement, Partnership2Gether, a teen mega-mission and connecting our community to Israel. We have a responsibility to share what it means to have a Jewish state.

Finally, we connect individuals to community.

We cannot do this alone. We need you – the community needs you. By giving, leading, participating and volunteering, we are stronger together. As an example of how we are engaging the next generation of Jewish thinkers and leaders, those in attendance heard from two teen leaders, Jacob Finke and Jessie Hymes, and viewed some brief video presentations.

Those at the Major Gifts Dinner were there because we want to make a difference, the 2016 Stronger Together Federation Campaign and through it, we will change and save lives. You may never know the names and faces of everyone you help, but they will know the impact of your support and leadership.

Leave a Reply